We landed in Santa Marta just in time to see a beautiful sunset over the sea… a perfect way to kick off this Caribbean coast adventure. In the taxi on the way to the centre of town, we quickly realised that Santa Marta wasn’t quite the cute little beach town we’d been expecting and was much more of a large sprawling place, set back from the water, filled with street vendors, beeping horns and the overwhelming stench of dirty street water with nowhere to go.
But I’ve learnt that first impressions in new places don’t count for much, especially when you arrive at night, tired and hungry. As soon as we set foot in our hostel, the amazing Masaya, we were re-energised and ready to go (find some food). Our next couple of days really just consisted of us wandering the streets, checking out all the street food and little shops and hanging out by the pool or on the rooftop of our hostel. It was nice to chill for a bit and begin topping up the tan that had begun to fade since Montañita… it was also insanely hot in Santa Manta, so we didn’t really want to be out in the heat for too long!
Myself and Conor were keen to have some beach time and had seen an incredible hostel about an hour up the coast just next to Tayrona National Park. However, Fab and Rosie had to get going towards Cartagena as they were on a bit of a time crunch to reach Nicaragua, and Hayden decided that he would go with them as he was keen to make his way home to Australia a little earlier than originally planned. So we sadly said our goodbyes and went our separate ways…
… And then there were two. It was strange to suddenly be just us, especially after travelling in such a big group for the past couple of weeks, and we missed our Kamala crew at first. But there are definitely upsides to only having one other person with you – it’s much easier to make decisions and work out where you want to go and what you want to do, without having to make everyone happy.
We got the local bus out of Santa Marta towards Buritaca, where the driver dropped us off by the side of the road and we walked for about 15 minutes down a dirt road in the blistering heat, finally coming across the most incredible view. Merecumbe hostel is more like a hotel and it’s absolutely worth the hot and sweaty journey. We were greeted with white sand, palm trees, hammocks and blue ocean stretching out as far as the eye could see. We were in heaven.
Three days of sunshine and blissful nothingness flew by too fast… honestly we really did nothing except lie on the beach, play in the sea and eat delicious food. It was like a mini holiday from our holiday. But it was just what we needed before getting back into the swing of the travelling life, the first task being getting to Cartagena.
What was supposed to be a 5 hour bus ride turned into 9 hours of stopping and starting, driving through muddy and flooded streets, our bus getting pulled over by the cops for god knows what reason and ending up about 35 minutes drive outside of the old town where we were trying to get to. But hey-ho, the bad times make for the good stories right? Or so I’m told.
Cartagena was our last major stop in Colombia and we absolutely loved wandering through the streets of the old town, marvelling at the little streets and beautiful colours of the houses and shops which lined them. We had been advised to walk down every street to really soak up everything the town has to offer, so that’s exactly what we did, even when it started torrentially raining and the streets flooded so much that we were wading ankle deep through water!
We’re now about to make the long journey to Capurgana/Sapzurro, right on the Colombia-Panama border, where we’ll be setting off on our boat trip to the San Blas Islands and Panama with San Blas Adventures! I’m absolutely pumped for this trip as I’ve heard so many amazing things from everyone we’ve met who’s done it… I can’t wait to experience it for myself! I’m going to be working with San Blas Adventures on the trip, posting photos and a blog for them once I get to Panama (and back on wifi), and I’ll of course be making a video of the whole experience too.
See you later Colombia… San Blas, here we come!