Nine years ago, even 5 years ago, this park was a quiet oasis in the city. A small, urban park surrounded by classy restaurants and the town homes of the well off, it was the place where the locals would come for fine dining and weekend family dinners. There is some of that vibe left during the day time. But at night? A couple of years ago, I stood on the balcony of a bar overlooking the park one Saturday night and estimated that 3,000 people and almost 50 policemen choked the park and 5-6 of the surrounding blocks. The bars, nightclubs, restaurants, and hostels were overwhelming the surrounding area, as exasperated town home owners, overcome by the crowds and noise, sold their properties to developers. Perhaps the constant miasma of marijuana smoke provideds a clue as to how this happened. Colombia relaxed marijuana laws, and that attracted a few battalions of "sandalistas," sandal and back pack and "front pack" wearing frugal tourists who contribute little to the tourist economy. Reeking of patchouli, they don't eat in the better restaurants and they stay in $15 a night communal hostels. The better restuarants are still there - in fact there is an excellent hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant nearby - but many are being replaced by gimmicky, overpriced places. For example, Habana pretends to be a Cuban restaurant, but it has very little real Cuban dishes on the menu.
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