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Published: November 26th 2010
In Panama City I had a couple days of indecision about where to go next, to head back north, or go to Colombia. I met a German girl named Kathrin who had the same problem, so we ended up flying to Colombia together. We just happened to arrive in Cartagena during the annual independence celebration there, so our cab ride through the city from the airport was crazy—the streets just packed with people covered in paint and foam and flour. Literally, we were just driving through a massive crowd. There was music on every block. We got to our hostel, dumped our stuff, then went out.
Before we had walked a block, we were covered in foam (everyone had spray cans of foam). Even my beer got filled up with foam. But it was a great first night to walk around and see all of the dancing and street performers and eat some good food. I wasn't sure if Cartagena would live up to my great memories of it from three years ago, but it definitely did. We spent several more days there just walking around the old city, which never really gets old.
Next we hopped on
a bus going east along the coast and had a night in Taganga. Walked into a hostel where two guys were playing guitar out front, so the three of us had a decent little session that night. The next day we headed to Tayrona National Park, which is a coastal park of beaches and jungle. It was a 2 hour hike from the drop off point across beautiful beaches and then patches of forest with knee deep mud. There are a couple places to stay in the park, but we hiked to the farthest one, San Juan Cabo... Del... Sur? Can't remember. But yeah, was a little backpacker lodge where everyone slept in tents or hammocks. The beaches there were great, the view were great. The food left much to be desired, but that was expected. It was a couple days of reading and cards, with a little swimming mixed in. We decided to take the speed boat back to Taganga instead of hike and bus.
As usual on this trip, I had no plan for the next destination, but we met a few English girls on the boat who were going to catch a 16 hour night bus
south west to Medellin, so yeah, sure, we ended up deciding to join them. Grabbed one last mango smoothie before heading for the bus station. The bus left at 7 pm, and arrived in Medellin... 25 hours later! With only one stop at a restaurant about 22 hours into the trip. Lots of the roads in the country are damaged from rain, or mudslides, not sure exactly. And I can't really sleep on buses. So we stumbled off the bus, got a cab, and got a room in Medellin where I got some much-needed sleep after two nights in a hammock with donkeys in our ears, then the night bus.
A decade or two ago, Medellin was the most murderous city in the world, home to Pablo Escobar, that famous entrepreneur. It's a huge city in the middle of a lush mountain valley. There are plenty of poor areas, but the heart of the city is totally modern. Huge shopping centers, hundred of cool bars and restaurants and clubs. We were there for four days, but were actually pretty lazy. The city has the country's only metro system, so we rode that around, took the cable car up above
the city, and walked around. We stayed at Casa Kiwi Hostel, which I grew to hate. It's a nice place, but they play ridiculously loud music all day and night in the lobby. Thin walls. House music pumping at 2:30 am on a Sunday night in a lobby right below you is just stupid. I took off today for the small mountain town of Salento (writing this from the bus), which is in the heart of coffee country. Kathrin stayed for another night in Medellin for some live salsa. I just want peace and quiet tonight haha. (wrote this two days ago, but only now got it posted...)
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