Colombia and the Caribien coast
My flight to Colombia had a stop in Panama City and then went on to Cartagena in Colombia. I landed in Cartagena at 22.30, found a cash machine, withdrew 700.000 Colombian Pesos ~ 1.500 DKK, and took a cab to the city. The cab driver was nice and it was a short drive to the walled city where my hotel “Casa Carmen” was how ever he managed to offer me marijuana, cocaine and “mariposas de la noche”.
The hotel was calm and there was an airconditioner in the room which was highly necessary since the weather was 31 degrees and with a high humidity. I slept good and went out to get some breakfast at a fancy looking café. I took a stroll around the old city in the boiling heat. The old city of Cartagena is contained by a wall and a massive fort which back in the days was used to protect the city from pirates roaming around in the Caribbean as well as the English empire. Just outside on both sides on the land side new parts of the city is built resembling Miami with big resorts on the beach. The new parts are horrendous but the old part is beautiful with old colonial buildings in various colours.
After walking for a couple of hours I sat down for lunch in a small street in the Getsemani area. Being a costal city Cartagena is known for it’s seafood and ceviches. I had a delicious ceviche with fish, shrimps and octopus. At night I met two Venezuelan guys and a Canadian, we walked around and hung out at plaza trinidad, where all the young people gather and drink beers and eat street food at night. Afterwards I visited “Café Havana” a local place with live Cuban music and dancing.
Next day was slow I slept long and hard, I got breakfast and went to Boca Grande which is the beach side / Miami side. I needed to buy a Colombian SIM card for my phone after I got a healthy lunch, I had a salad, and then relaxed at the beach. Compared to the beaches I just visited in Mexico the beaches in Cartagena didn’t have anything to offer, and the amount of people selling souvenirs and massages along with cocaine, marijuana and prostitutes was overwhelming. I even got woken up in my sleep at the beach by a women grabbing my shoulders in an attempt to sell me a massage – fucking annoying.
Back at the hotel I relaxed a bit before heading out for dinner. Camilo my Colombian friend I met in Mexico, recommended me a place “Mulata” and I had a large seafood dinner with lobster, shrimps and fish and a great pale ale from “3 Cordilleras” a brewery in Medellín. I looked for a good cocktail bar and found “El Baron” a nicely decorated bar with great cocktails. In the bar I met a couple of Americans from California, we went on a little bar crawl before I needed to pull the plug since I had an early bus to Santa Marta.
Cartagena was not the start on Colombia I had expected, it was really touristy and pretty uninteresting aside from the old city part. Furthermore the great amount of drugs and prostitutes didn’t add to it’s appealing side. But I was prepared since I knew it was one of the most visited cities in Colombia. When I left the city for the bus terminal we passed neighbourhoods where people were living in the worst conditions, really dirty areas with trash everywhere and in sheds built from whatever was around.
Cartagena is troubled with the massive amount of drug and sextourism, and you could see the opportunity some of the young girls felt to make money when you drove through the rough neighbourhoods. Combined with the fugitives from Venezuela which is in a state of civil war at the moment, you would see underage girls selling them self in the streets of Cartagena, a really sad sight.
After a 5 hour bus drive along the beautiful coastline I arrived in Santa Marta. My taxi driver was dressed as a racing driver and speeded the little Kia to my hostel “The Dreamer”. The hostel was a good place for relaxation during the day, they had a big pool and the weather was amazing. During the nights a lot of partying was going on. I stayed for 5 days and did a day trip to Tayrona National Park and one day to a nearby beach “Playa Blanca”. Tayrona was beautiful, we walked 3-4 hours in the jungle and along completely untouched beaches in boiling heat, my stomach was acting up though so after the walk I went back to relax.
The days in Santa Marta just went by and was a really nice break for me on my trip. After some days I felt recharged and ready to go on more adventures. A big loss though was that the ocean devoured my beloved camouflage coloured Quicksilver cap, I quickly got a new one, but we’ve had so many good experiences together.
When time came to say goodbye to Santa Marta, I took a cab to Minca in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Minca is a small city in the mountains surrounded by jungle. My hostel was “Casa Loma” which was located at the end of 300 steep steps up the mountain from Minca. I was traveling with Maya an American therapist from Hawaii who was going to do witch doctor rituals in the Amazon. A ritual where you cleanse yourself from dark energy by burning frog poison into your body resulting in fever strokes and vomiting, interesting but not exactly my understanding of vacation.
Casa Loma had the most amazing view over the mountains and the valley and was a really chill place, people slept in hammocks or small cottages. I met a boat crew from Norway who’ve sailed from Norway and picked up Italians and Argentinians along the way, a pretty long journey but all good people. I had a little one man cottage in the back of the valley one night, and a hammock the other. During night you could hear the jungle roaring really loud. We had a good trek to a local waterfall and just chilled and enjoyed the sunset and the lovely three meal course they did at nice at the casa.
My last day at the Caribbean coast was in Taganga beach a small beach town close to Santa Marta. Not really an interesting place, so I spent the day at the beach and reading a danish book which was at the hostel “Villa Mary” – “Morten Albæk, det gennemsnitlige menneske”. The hostel was owned by an Italian guy, he housed two parrots which was absolutely out of their minds, they kept attacking my bags and clothes, foul beasts. The next day I had a flight from Santa Marta to Medellín, which I really excited about visiting.