Now that the Secret Service agents fired for that whole Colombian prostitution scandal are fighting their terminations, we're learning a lot more about how and where they party. Or at least how and where they did on the fateful night of April 11, before waking up April 12 with what we're guessing were the worst hangovers one could imagine -- less from any alcohol than from the sting of an international incident that now has Secret Service head Mark Sullivan testifying before a Senate committee about wide-ranging new allegations of misconduct. It's like The Hangover times 1,000.
Do you want to party like a Secret Service agent in Cartagena? We have a guide for you:
Where to Crash
There's only one option: The Hotel Caribe. This is where the Secret Service stayed and it's where one agent, Arthur Huntington, reportedly got into an early-morning argument with Dania Suarez, the prostitute he allgedly refused to pay, which started the whole scandal. Try to get room 707, where Huntington stayed. And then take a page from the agents' playbook and tear that hotel up.
According to The Washington Post's Carol D. Leonnig and David Nakamura, "the manager ... was infuriated by the noise the agents made at the hotel bar and the inconvenience they caused other guests. Outside the Hotel Caribe, Secret Service officers had repeatedly allowed their bomb-sniffing Belgian Malinois shepherds to defecate on the lone grassy patch along the hotel’s beachfront property — directly in front of the hotel manager’s apartment." But don't expect luxury. Jaunted's Amanda Pressner gave Hotel Chatter an extended review of the place, concluding that it "looks grand but really isn't." But you can take a YouTube tour yourself and see what you think:
Where to Fuel Up
For some reason this is where the State Department recommended agents spend their leisure time at the Hard Rock Cafe, probably because, as the Post's Leonnig and Nakamura noted, "it was dead." Dead or not, this is an example of playing by the book before you throw the book away, so you start here just like any bored agent. The menu looks awful! Are you really in Cartagena to eat hickory-smoked chicken wings or Shock Top beer-battered fish and chips? Hell no, but you're going to anyway because that's how you get bored enough to strike out on your own.
Where to Get Your Drink On
When the agents polished off their chicken wings, they headed to Tu Candela, a bar down the street. The website Baraaza calls this place "An old staple in Cartagena and known for its good Sunday scene." Lonely Planet's a bit more descriptive: "The narrow, shotgun-style layout of this bar/club makes liberal use of exposed brick – it feels a bit like partying in a wine cave – and is decorated with tribal masks, old transistor radios and brass instruments. The cover charge is recoupable in drinks." And even though this is where some agents reportedly hooked up with some working girls, the website Off2Colombia says "There are a few prostitutes around but they're discrete and it doesn't spoil the party." It actually sounds like a fun place to hang out, and not too out of control, per the video posted by Baraaza:
Where to Enjoy Some Dancing
The now-infamous Pleyclub was probably infamous before Secret Service agents ever rolled in, but now it's getting photo spreads in the The Daily Mail. This is where one set of agents headed straightaway, apparently led by Secret Service supervisor David Chaney, a 48-year-old veteran of 20 years.
Baraaza says only that it's a "strip club located in the Industrial zone" but back in April, the New York Daily News took a visit to the Pleyclub and had a little more detail from the inside: "Small black tables covering a dimly lit dance floor at the Pley Club in a low-rent district of Cartagena were filled Sunday night mostly with tourists. A white stage was reserved for dancers wearing form-fitting, brightly colored dresses that showed off enough cleavage and leg to entice customers to dig deep in their wallets." The New York Times also stopped by and reported that "a bottle of Old Parr whisky costs $160, and the women, who pole-dance naked on a stage to the rapid-fire beat of reggaetón, can charge double that."
Where to Go for the After-Party
The magical unicorn of your Cartagena Secret Service adventure is going to be the unnamed bar some agents hit after asking their dinner server for a non-touristy recommendation. "They were directed to a bar with an Egyptian theme, a deejay and a dance floor," the Post reported. Google, Tripadvisor, and Thorn Tree searches for such a place have proved unfruitful, probably because this mystery place really is off the tourist track. There is an Egyptian-themed discotheque in Medallin called Amarna, but that's in Medallin. So to find Cartagena's version, you'll have to go on faith and start asking around. "Quiero encontrar un club nocturno de temática egipcia," is what Google Translate says to say.