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Published: December 7th 2007
After a week watching cable tv and eating pizza in Medellin (really other than a few parties in Hostels, this is all I did, yep ever so often a man needs to veg), I make a break for the Northern Caribbean coast, and the promise of african beats, pina coladas, endless beaches and crystal clear warm water.
Although as usual, before one is treated to such delights, a man must endure a 14 hr bus journey, with the A/C cranked up to 0 C, a seat situated over the back axle, and that doesnt recline, and the spare bus driver snorring his fat ass off in my ear in the bed behind me..... what else ah the pissed up teenage locals puking into sick bags for the first 4 hrs of the journey!
I arrive in Cartagena in fine form, after 2 hrs sleep. First impressions after getting out of the fridge of a bus, HOT! We and my intrepid fellow travellers, find a hostel and spend the rest of the afternoon, getting some kip and sweating profusily.
Cartagena, was once the main colonial port for the Spanish in SA and is quite a nice spot. Those pesky Spainyards, stored all
the gold they plundered from the Incas here, before shipping it back to the homeland, so making it a bit of a tempting stop for the odd pirate to stock up his chest of gold. So the old city is encircled in a wall and theres a number of forts around the city. In short the city (old) is breathtakingly beautiful, and really does look as it did back in the 1600´s. You may or may not remember the movie Romancing the Stone, with Michael whats his face, well it was filmed here! Anyway, it was also seriously hot for my liking, so I legged it the next day to Santa Marta and its beaches, meaning to return after aclimatizing.
5 hours on a crappy bus, and we make it to Santa Marta, first impressions, shit hole! Unfortuneately I arrived just after a flash flood, that caused the citys sewers to start spilling sewage and flooding the streets. So I make a move to a small fishing village called Taganga about 15 minutes away.
Set in a horseshoe shaped bay, this is more what i´m looking for. This is a cool little spot, the locals are friendly (as is the
trend in Colombia) and I settle in to a well rehearsed routine of breakfast, nap in hammock, swim, lunch, beer, hammock, siesta, dinner, beers, bed! Climatisation to tropical weather, is a fine science, if you follow the above system, you´ll soon be one of the locals!
After 3 or 4 days of the above I make a move for Tayrona National Park. Now this has to be one of the most beautiful places I have been in my life. The park is on the jungled covered coast about 2 hrs outside Santa Marta. It contains beachs set in a number of bays, coconut palms, crystal clear blue waters, get the picture!!!!! The downside is you have to hike 2 hrs into the park to get there. Now to the travel hardened, fit, adventure loving traveller like myself, this shouldnt be a problem. Only if someone had told me not to bring my full 30kg rucksack, containing winter clothing, with 10kg day pack full of books and other non essential electronic items to a campsite that has no lecky! Maybe I shouldnt have declined the offer of a horse to carry these items from the grinning local on the way in.
Anyway after 2 hrs staggering through the jungle, mosquito infested, horseshit covered track, I make it to the campsite after sunset, to be informed that Ill be spending the next few days sleeping in a hammock. I have a quick nap wake up at 7.40pm and am further informed that contary to the sign that says the kitchen closes at 8pm, the kitchen has actually closed and for dinner Ill be having biscuits and beer! 6 beers later on an empty stomach I dont give a toss anymore, and settle into the communual atmosphere, of 40 hammocks strung side by side under a palm covered roof, feeling sorry for the poor unfortunate individuals who´ll have to hear be snorring for the next few days!
After a less than satisfying sleep I wake up the sound of the ocean, lapping against the white sand beach with clear blue skies and go for a morning dip in what must be the cleanest, clearest water I have ever swam in.
Since, this is a national park, there is no civilisation 20 miles either side of where I am, so with no pollution or rain run off from urbanisation this water is clean clean
clean. Which is demonistrated by the tropical fish that actually feed and bite at your legs while sitting at the waters edge.
I spend 4 glorious days reading, eating and perfecting doing bugger all!
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