Sleeping on the Beach

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South America » Colombia » Cartagena
May 7th 2012
Published: May 7th 2012EDIT THIS ENTRY

We left Saturday morning to Santa Marta, a 4 hour bus ride, to meet up with Stefan and Willie for my nice, long weekend off. After a confusion of sorts on where we were supposed to meet up with the boys and losing my phone in a taxi -which Juan Manuel immediately jumped on a random motorcycle to go chasing after the taxi I left it in in a sea of taxis (returned with no success); we all decided to head to Palomino (an hour and half past Santa Marta towards Venezuela). I felt really bad since Juan Ma was only coming for the night as he had to be back for work on Monday. But he said he was ok with going so much further than originally planned and a way we went!

Palomino is a gem of a beach town: completely untouched by tourists. The jungle rolls right up to the beach and a very Colombian town inhibits a small portion of the area. To get there, you have to randomly jump off the bus that passes it by, in what appears to be the middle of nowhere, and just walk straight to the beach -roughly 25 sweltering hot minutes away on a dirt road, that is surrounded by huts and/or the jungle. Along the way, we decided to say "Hola" in a very high-pitched girlie voice to everyone we passed. Juan Ma always mimmicks the way I say "Hola" to make fun of me and somehow, it morphed into all of us mimmicking myself to say "Hi" to passerbys as we drank shots of Rum. We camped out on the beach, and in the morning, Juan Ma, being Colombian, knew how to climb a tree to get a coconut. He then hacked it open so we could have fresh coconut water with our tasty breakfast we had made beachside. Now this also happens to be the perfect morning beverage, as it´s my secret hangover cure (hey, you go to the beach to camp with a bunch of boys what, do you think we did the night before?!). Willie had this amazing windproof camping burner which we used for breakfast and dinner, planted right on the beach under the shady palms.

Once poor Juan Ma left (it ended taking him 9 hours just to get home!), the boys and I went tubing down a river in the middle of a jungle, beers included -def the highlight of the weekend. First, you have to go with this motorcyclist on his tiny bike while carrying your large black inner tube with one arm hanging off the side of the moto. They take you half way up the bumpy dirt trail and when they can´t go up any further, they drop you off and tell you to just hike up and down this tall mountain in the middle of the jungle. You then just somehow supposed to know where to enter the river. And after a grueling, sweaty hike up the mountain, we soon reached the bottom and did magically find the spot to enter. We were in awe of the relaxing float the entire way down to shore -it ends at our beach. Sunday night, Stefan and I were walking along the beach when a torrential downpour hit. (Willie was at the tent sick to his stomach with some random bug, perhaps he accidentally drank some river water earlier that day.) As we were walking back before it rained even harder on us, a giant streak of lightning struck super close to us. It was so bright, it actually blinded us for about 30 seconds! I´m still having terrifying flashbacks from that moment, sooooo scary! Afterwards, we went to the camping tables to be sheltered from the rain, but the tin roofs only seemed to be water resistant, not water proof. It so couldn´t shelter us from the strong storm. We got stuck for quite a while under the rain. Lightning and thunder and all, it was awesome.

Palomino is also filled with fireflies, which I've barely seen since all of those summers spent up northern Canada when I was young. It's something I miss a lot, so was a super nice refresher. Having that mixed with the jungley trees and plants covering the earth with all the crazy crickets and ribits of all the bugs and what not, and you've got quite an exciting symphony! The fireflies actually look like they're clubbing to the beat of the noisy jungle. So cool!

On Monday, I went back to Cartagena, leaving Stefan and poor, sick Willie (whom was sick for almost the whole week) to get back to the grind. A week had passed, and Stefan was back in town, so I took him and an Irish girl staying at the hostel out. None of us really recall much. So we´ll just skip to my day off: Monday! Stefan and I decided to head to Playa Blanca and spend the night on the beach in hammocks under these grass huts. He had already stayed there the first time around with Willie and was excited to see the family he had met at the place they stayed at. Only this time, the family was having a big argument with the owners that had come, and I ended up having to be the translator! You see, the owner of this place is a Colombian woman and has been with this Floridian (who has the thickest Southern accent EVER) for TWO years, neither of which speaks the other language. His Spanish is like nails to a chalkboard, absolutely excrutiating with that thick accent of his; nor does he try terribley hard to speak the mother language of the country he now resides in. Stefan and I were quite entertained, as you can imagine. That night was awesome in the hammock. Except I kept waking up hearing a rustle nearby only to find a random white cow hanging out under our giant hut, just feet away from my hammock (we stayed in a large grass hut that has hammocks hanging by the rafters for the guests, no walls). It was awesomely random, and a quite a lot bit petrifying each time I woke! It was beautiful though, falling asleep to the sound of the ocean and waking up to it and the view of the aqua blue ocean just past your toes. The one and only time an early morning was welcomed by me, (mark that one on your calendar Dad!)!

That morning, Felipe, one of the guys that was both in the argument and knew Stefan from his previous time, told us he would take us back to mainland. On Playa Blanca (located on an island near Cartagena), you can only take boats to the island in the morning and back in the afternoon. There´s no time variation. I also had to be back at work at 3pm. But there´s also this way longer route of taking a motorcycle, to a ferry, to a bus or taxi, which gets you back to mainland at any time of day. As we were walking to the moto, however, the both of us realized that Felipe was the only one with us, and no other Colombian had joined us. We both quietly questioned each other how we were all to fit on one tiny bike and bit our lips. We immediately hoped that one of his cousins would pop out of nowhere with a bike which didn´t happen, of course. They sandwiched me in between Felipe and Stefan, and piled all the bags on Stefan. They then adjusted my feet on top of Stefan´s so we could fit on this tiny little motorcycle, and we were off along the bumpy dirt road. I was petrified. I kept invisioning us falling and getting badly burned on the pipe right by my foot. Not fun! Somehow and thankfully, we made it back in one piece, and it actually turned out to be a really nice ride! Luckily, the whole ride wasn´t on a terrifying bumpy road either! Time to take the ferry, which we wound up taking a canoe instead, since the gap was probably only 50 feet wide. We then wound up in some random town, waiting for the city bus to take us out of the miserable heat. It was definitely one of
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The second night we changed camp locations, this was coming through the bush to the beach from our camp sight. le sigh.
the most authentic travels yet! I can now officially say I´m a Colombian! Haha! I´ve done just about all the random, but everyday sort of things they seem to do here, that would normally bewilder most foreigners! Love it!

That same night, Willie came back from Taganga to spend a few more days before deciding to head back to beautiful Buenos Aires for a week. A day after, Stefan left on a boat to Panama (lucky, it's the same sort of trip I had tried to do just months ago). Willie plans to be back next week for an undecided amount of time. Def looking forward to getting to see his familiar face yet again!

Additional photos below
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I take the local way to the islands near Cartagena, with the fishermen, for half the price.

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