It is a curious location for Cartagena’s women’s prison, just a half a block from the trendy Plaza San Diego within the Old City walls. Walking by the jail you will see small signs of the women’s lives through the bars on the second floor above — sheets tied up to block the strong Caribbean sun, clothes hanging to dry, a hand of someone presumably gazing out at the sky above. The depressing sign above the entry states visitors are allowed Saturdays & Sundays, entering between 9 & noon and leaving by 3 pm. All a stark contrast to the charming architecture & Caribbean colors of most of the rest of the UNESCO world heritage site.
Reports state that the prison was built for 50 but now houses 180+ and is to be moved from its highly sought after (& high priced) walled city location; it is steps from the luxury Hotel Sofitel Santa Clara and numerous high end restaurants.
Despite a potential imminent move, Restaurante Interno opened its doors late last year in the Carcel de Mujeres de San Diego and not only adds to the culinary offerings of the Old City, but is a prison rehabilitation program as well. It provides practical training for inmates so they have marketable skills upon release, plus funds other prison projects improving conditions & prospects for the inmates. “Segundas oportunidades” is written on the entry wall to the restaurant and the t-shirt backs of those staffing the restaurant; second chances for these women is indeed what is being offered.
COP$80,000 gets you a tasty three course meal plus a juice in a very pretty, casual setting, as well as a very different dining experience; see the menu and more information here. You can make a reservation (full names & passport/ID numbers of all party members will be requested) or try your luck by knocking on the gate any Tuesday through Sunday evening.
P.S. For those curious on seeing what the inside of the actual active prison part is like, there are some photos on Facebook here.