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Published: October 19th 2014
We decided to fly from Medellin to Santa Marta as the cost of a flight wasn't much more than taking the bus and it was much quicker. We arrived at Santa Marta airport and took a taxi to our accommodation in Taganga.
Taganga wasn't what I was expecting, the lady in the hostel described it as a poor suburb of Santa Marta which was very true. Most of the roads were dirt, there wasn't mains water so our hostel had to buy it in, and there were numerous mangey dogs roaming the streets.
We spent the afternoon in the pool at the hostel as it was really hot and humid before venturing out down to the beach. The beach didn't inspire me to want to swim and the area had a strange feel to it, maybe this was partly due to the fact everyone is offered drugs randomly in the street.
We decided Taganga wasn't the place for us and left the next morning to Palomino. While waiting for the local bus were told the bus drivers were on strike so had to take a taxi. We confirmed this with the hostel across the street and had them
call us a taxi. The taxi dropped us off at the market in Santa Marta and the locals pointed us in the direction of our bus. The bus was old and not particularly comfortable but this was something we needed to get used to, as we had heard the further north we go, the worse the buses get.
We were met in Palomino by the local moto taxis who put our bags on the handlebars of their motorbikes and us on the back. It was a short ride from the main highway and town down to the beach along a dusty road.
Palomino is a small village on the Caribbean coast of Colombia that is slowly becoming popular with tourists. It was less developed than I was expecting and the sea was much rougher. There were signs saying danger rip currents and not many swimmers in the sea.
We had booked into the Tiki Hut hostel and were sharing a cabana with three others from England who were great fun to hang out with. The cabanas were set around a fantastic swimming pool and the hostel had plenty of hammocks and an onsite restaurant.
somehow managed to get another infected insect bite so spent the day resting while I went tubing on the Palomino river with our room mates. We hired tubes and jumped on the back of motorbikes with one hand holding the giant tyres over our shoulders and the other holding onto the bike. It was a short ride to the beginning of the trail which we followed for about half an hour, up and over a steep hill before turning right to the Palomino river. We spent the next two hours floating downstream, it was very relaxing. Every now and then we floated through some tiny rapids or got beached and had to find deeper water. Eventually we reached the beach, from here it was a short walk back to return our tubes and find Gary in the pool.
Our days were generally spent around the pool until the clouds came over in the afternoon. We enjoyed cocktails and meals on the beach or at the Tiki Hut in the evenings.
We decided to head to Tayrona National park with our two English roommates, V and Kerry, for our last day as we had heard very good things. We
walked to the main town and arrived just as the bus did. We asked how long it was going to wait and were told it was leaving now but stopping soon. The bus stopped so Gary and V got off to quickly buy lunch however the bus then left without them. We said to the driver to stop and wait but didn't really understand his reply. Eventually we stopped and Gary and V turned up on motorbikes with the bus conductor. All very random!
As the bus continued towards Tayrona National park we came across a section of road that was blocked off due to a motorcycle accident. As we went past I could see the guy just laying there with his bike a short distance from him. It was as if he was just left in the exact spot he fell still with his helmet on. As no one was trying to help him we assumed he was already dead.
We got to another section of road where all the cars, buses and trucks were backed up and there was dark smoke in the distance. Our bus drove past them all to the front of the line
to find that the locals had blocked the road with burning tyres. We later found out they were protesting about issues with electricity. While we were waiting in the bus we were offered rides to Tayrona on motorbikes for only $3 each, but having seen the guy in the road earlier we decided against it.
While we waited the locals continued to put more tyres on the fire and it didn't look like we were going to go anywhere soon. Eventually we gave up as by the time we got to the park and walked in to the beach it would have been time to leave. As there was no traffic heading back towards Palomino we just started walking, we had a few funny looks from the locals but we carried on anyway. After a short while a van pulled over and gave us a ride to the next small town where we continued our walk. Eventually a local bus showed up and took us back to Palomino where we spent the rest of the day around the pool.
Late in the afternoon we realised we had got our dates wrong and had an extra day before we
needed to be in Cartagena so we decided to stay another night in Palomino. Again we spent our day enjoying the sun and pool.
Next stop Cartagena.
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