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Published: April 8th 2009
When we got out of the Lost City, we went directly to Taganga with our friends Anna and Tim, from our trek. Taganga is only a 5 minute taxi ride from Santa Marta, where our Lost City trek embarked from and concluded, but it has an entirely different personality. Rounding one bend along the coast line from Santa Marta, and the dirty, crowded, city feel is replaced by the laid back, sleepy, fishing/beach town vibe. Taganga is an easy place to pass the time, and many travelers make this place an extended stop. There is rarely a cloud in the sky but always a refreshingly cool ocean breeze. Juice vendors line the streets offering fresh, ice cold fruit juices: banana, watermelon, passion fruit, papaya, mango, strawberry, starfruit, cantaloupe. The beach isn´t the best in the world, but Taganga Bay´s waters are warm and flat as a swimming pool with half the beach reserved for beach goers and the other half of the beach lined with rickety fishing and dive boats. The people are incredibly friendly, and on top of it all, the cost of living is minimal.
We did come here with one thing on the agenda, despite the invitingly
lazy attitude of this place. Taganga has some of the cheapest diving in the world (not at the levels of SE Asia, but cheap enough), and so, we planned to advance our diving certifications from Open Water to Advanced Open Water. We shopped around on our first day here and eventually signed up with Octopus Dive Center. For US$200 we got our Advanced Certification and two additional fun dives, for a total of 7 dives. I felt like I had robbed a bank or something! Not only was it hard to pass up because it was priced so well, but the quality of the diving surpassed all expectations (we hadn´t heard the best things about diving in Taganga). We saw beautiful angel, squirrel and trigger fish of many varieties. Several types of eels. Blow fish, rays, barracudas, scorpion fish, and flounder. But to me, the most impressive feature of every dive were the corals. Fantastic hard and soft corals, the soft ones undulating with the flow of the ocean, were everywhere to be found. To satisfy the requirements of our advanced
certification, we had to do a deep dive, a navigation dive, a night dive, a multilevel dive, and a
drift dive. The drift dive was by far my favorite. I had done one drift dive before, diving the Lehua crater just off Ni´ihau, but that day there was little current making for a minor drift factor. This day at Aguja Island, a 20 minute boat ride down the coast from Taganga, had a serious current. For 40 minutes we let this very strong current sweep us past beautiful sights of coral and fish. The beauty of a drift dive is that there´s little swimming involved; you just cruise with the current, and on this dive we were really cruising. After 3 days of diving, we had our certification.
Diving however, was a small part of each of these days. The rest of our time was spent embracing the lazy beach spirit that Taganga emanates. Along with Anna and Tim, as well as Jack and Anisha, our wonderful friends who joined us for New Year´s in Uruguay and happened to be here in Taganga, we spent time lounging in hammocks, sipping varieties of ice cold fresh squeezed fruit juices and sitting on the beach. Probably the most memorable experience of our lazy times spent in Taganga was an exquisite
dinner we all cooked together - pasta with a seafood cream sauce and a colorful salad on the side. Everyday around 5 o'clock, the local fisherman ride their boats up on shore and sell their catch directly out of their boats. We purchased 4 lobsters and a beautiful fish, the name of which escapes me, for a total of US$14. We first sauteed garlic and onions in butter and then added boiled-to-perfection lobster meat and the pan seared fish, as well as a little of the broth from the cooking of the lobsters. We let this simmer to cook away some of the excess agua, and then added cream and cream cheese just before serving. We were all shocked with the result... it was just incredibly delicious (and loaded with lobster meat). That meal left us all satisfied on many levels, as we had impressed ourselves with the end result, as well as stuffed our faces. The entire process was a wonderful experience. There´s something very satisfying about buying your dinner freshly caught, straight from the fisherman on the beach.
After 5 days and nights of diving/laying in a hammock, Jack, Anisha, Anna, Drew and I caught a boat
into Tayrona National Park for more R&R. Tayrona National Park is a beautiful stretch of jungle and beaches along the Caribbean coast. The boat ride itself to get to the park was like an amusement park thrill ride and well worth the price of admission. We all wound up in the back of the boat getting soaked to the bone with ocean spray for the entire hour and a half boat trip. Anna was even hit in the face by a fish that jumped out of the water at just the right moment. We laughed the entire way there. Eventually the boat pulled up at our stop - Cabo San Juan. The national park contains one primary path that runs just off the coast which leads to several campgrounds on many of the parks beaches. Cabo is known for being one of the most beautiful sites in the park, and the campsite at Cabo would be where we would spend the next two nights, renting hammocks in the thatched roof cabana on the grounds. Now, when it comes to beaches, the truth of the matter is that I am beach spoiled from living in Kauai. Though Tayrona was spectacular, it
The next beach down from Cabo
is certainly not nearly as beautiful as Kauai. I have come to expect such things when visiting new beaches. At the same time, its beaches were unique with a beauty not found on Kauai. Enormous boulders lined the capes, were scattered on the beaches, and occasionally poked out through the blue waters along the Tayrona coast. I know they´re just rocks of course, but they were some mighty cool, mighty beautiful rocks that gave Tayrona a unique raw beauty.
We spent our first day in Tayrona lounging around the beach at Cabo which is divided into two small bays, split by a small cape. There´s not much to tell of course regarding a lazy beach day. We would sweat in the sun, then cool off in the ocean, read our books... you all know what a beach day entails. The second day was hardly any different. After all, that's the whole point of coming to a place like this... to sit back and do nothing. Day 2 we walked 20 minutes down the coast to a stretch of beach known as La Piscina. It is a straighter beach than the bays of Cabo and a barrier reef provides some
of the most tranquil swimming waters on the coast. As I mentioned, the beach time was spent no different than the preceding day, except when Drew knocked some coconuts out of a nearby coconut tree and used an anchor that was on the shore to bust up the coconut. Ahhh, delicious coconut water and meat is a wonderful beach snack. On our third and final morning, I woke up at 4:45 to catch the sunrise. Early morning is definitely my favorite time of day (not that I actually enjoy waking up for it). It is just so peaceful and beautiful, and a time when you can experience gorgeous places, whether they be the waves of Hanalei or beautiful Caribbean sunrises, nearly all to yourself. At 5 o'clock, the sky was still completely dark, with no hint of morning light and the Milky Way brilliantly clear. Gradually the eastern sky grew lighter and finally, at around 5:45, the sun crested the horizon and rose over the ocean. It´s magic to experience the full transition from the darkest of night to the brightly lit sky of a new day, all within the time frame of an hour or so.
day we headed back to Taganga and cooked up one more lobster feast for dinner (the first one was just so good it left us wanting more). The following day we bid our farewells to our awesome friends and split to head back to Cartagena, from where we will embark on our next big adventure, sailing from Cartagena to Panama via the San Blas archipelago.
We´re down to the last two weeks. Love from Cartagena.
Tot: 1.176s; Tpl: 0.04s; cc: 17; qc: 75; dbt: 0.0228s; 1; m:saturn w:www (18.104.22.168); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.5mb