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Published: July 30th 2013
Flying out of Leticia in the early afternoon, the cold front that had been present for a few days dissipated, and the hot, humid weather returned while we waited at the airport. Even though there is only a couple of flights a day out of Leticia, we still had to be there 2 hours prior, dripping away in the terminal. But this was nothing compared to what greeted us when we landed in Santa Marta at 9pm that night. It was still 30 degrees, with high humidity, and instantly every pore started leaking.
Checking into the hostel, we were grateful to find that our room had a brand new air conditioner that chilled both the room, and us quickly. Nevertheless, once back outside again we started sweating buckets. The Santa Marta festival had been on all week, culminating with a massive party over the weekend, which we had arrived right in the middle of. Venturing out around 10, the three of us grabbed a meal at a great, cheap Italian restaurant, which we came back to for the next 2 nights!
Full of pasta, we it was time to wash it down with icy cold beer sold on the
street by vendors with big Eskies full of ice and beer. The town square was a heaving mass of colours, noises and smells, as the party kicked in. After walking around for a while, we made our way down to the beach where there was a number of stages setup, and the crowd decidedly younger. From what we could see, we were the only gringo's down this way, and as we got deeper in the crowd you could feel hands and bodies brushing up against in an attempt to find out what we had in our pockets. As usual, I only had a small amount of money on me hidden away and nothing of any worth. Then Luca and i were sprayed with what we think was hair mouse from a soda stream cannister, with the slimy stuff getting us briefly in our faces before we turned around copping it all over our backs. Throwing our beer cans at the perpetrator and quickly moving away, Jo slapped away a hand that was In Luca's pockets, getting called a whore in the process. This was not a place for gringo's, so we hightailed it out of there, firstly going back to
Coastline at Parque Tayrona
Most of the beaches you cannot swim at due to strong rips
the hostel to have a shower and wash the stuff off, and then heading back out to the plaza, where the crowd was older and the scene not so manic, and safe.
At this point of reading the blog, i can envisage the look on our parents faces, as well as some expletive turn of phrase that they would be muttering. Don't worry guys, all is good, we are not stupid ...
Thank god for air con, as we able to sleep in late after getting to bed just before 4. Hungry, we made a quick trip to the supermarket where we were presented with all sorts of fruit that I have not seen, nor heard of. Grabbing handfuls of each type, we also stocked up on other fruit that we can get back home, but only for a few months a year and at 5 times the cost. For example, we are getting a complete pineapple for 50c.
Fuelled up on fruit, muesli and yoghurt, it was time for a swim, so we caught one of the local collectico's (a van with around 10 seats) to Taganga, a small fishing village 5km's away in the next
bay which has become gringo ground zero. The collectivo was a rust bucket of a car, but had an impressive sound system that was probably worth more then the actual car. They love their music here, and it is so different to Peru and Bolivia. Its a mix of salsa, reggae, bossa nova and mexican, and they play it loud!
As it was Sunday, lots of locals were out, playing football on the beach, drinking beer, eating ceviche and generally enjoying themselves. We joined them as we got our first swim in the Caribbean, the water temp is perfect, enough to cool you down, but you dont get cold over time. It is really salty, and the colour a perfect blue.
Seeking a more isolated and quiet beach, the next day we caught another collectivo to the entrance of Tayrona National Park, about an hour west of Santa Marta. It is a beautiful park that encompasses two ecosystems, the mountains and the coast. After paying our entrance fee, we caught another collectivo, 5km's into the park where the trails begin. From there it was around 1.5 hours to El Cabo Playa (beach), that is comprised of two spectacular
beaches that are separated by a rocky outcrop. Many people camp there, and we toyed with the idea, but it must get really hot in a tent here when the sun rises at 5.30am. Even at the coldest part of the night the temp hovers in the high 20's.
The walk to El Cabo was beautiful, with the sounds of Tamarind monkeys squeeking in the trees above us and the sound of the surf crashing into the rocks in the distance. But it was so hot, as by this stage it was the middle of the day and we all sweated profusely, every couple of minutes you had to wipe the stinging sweat from your eyes, i did not know that you could sweat via your eyelids until that day. But arriving at the beach it was completely worth it, we swam in a little bay with hardly anyone there. It was even possible to buy an icy cold beer and sit on the beach and just take it all in, before we had to tackle the walk out.
The three of us leave Santa Marta tomorrow to Palomino, a very quiet hideaway further west then Tayrona where
the Sierra Nevada mountains meet the beach.
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