Wednesday, 17 June 2015

The First Week in Dangerous and Drug Riddled Colombia - Week 4 Update

Cartagena - Santa Marta - Palomino - Tayrona National Park

Cartagena's Colourful Street
We arrived in Cartagena - Colombia rather tired and disheveled after the five boat journey. The last thing we could think of doing was then heading to a large dorm room to try and navigate around ten other people. Cue splashing some cash and getting a rather nice hotel room which included a small balcony looking out over Cartagena’s old town. It had an impressive view of one of the colourful colonial streets, often filled with the sounds of a horse a carriage trotting down the paved street. Of the 80 channels on the tele, only 1 was in English (BBC Entertainment), so we spent our first exciting night in a new city learning about wildlife in London and the growing population of Scorpions.

Kim and Sophie at San Felipe Castle

The next day we had to rise early to meet Sophie who was our first visitor on our trip, joining us for the first two weeks in Colombia, despite everyone back home saying it was too dangerous of a place to go. For two days we idly breezed around the Old Town stopping every now and then for an ice cream or a milk shake, visiting the sites such as San Felipe castle and getting lost in it’s many dark passageways.

But on the third day it came time to leave. After a 5 hour bus north with both me and Kim passed out from the roofies we took (motion sickness tablets), thank god we had sophie to protect us haha, we arrived in Santa Marta. Definitely not the nicest place we've been! But the hostel did have 2 pools, a pool table, kitchen, bar and pretty good wifi. So we can't really complain.

Bus Loaded with Veg
Santa Marta was just a pit stop on our way to Palomino, a fun 45 minute walk in the heat, through a cramped market, with stalls of fly ridden meat and fish, smelly enough to almost make you gag, with our big bags. I'm pretty sure in the market was our first unsuccessful pickpocket attempt, with a small girl grabbing my right arm and then a guy walking very close and laughed loudly after my hand immediately pinned to my wallet on my left side.

The rest of the journey went off without a hitch, we sat back on the bus, payed our 8000 cop (£2) for a two hour journey and watched the Colombians hop on, hop off, drop off packages to be delivered later on the route, like a crude postal service. People boarded carrying large torso sized sacks of veg and lining the cramped isle with them.

Dreamer Hostel - £8 a night!
Our two nights planned for Palomino quickly expanded to three, (I'm sure you can understand why from the photo,) if we didn’t have so much planned we could of easily spent even longer. For a couple days we rested from the exaustion of being on the move so much. We did some hippy yoga on the beach, we drank a few cocktails, then went for a nice relaxing tube down the Palomino River.

Chillaxing on Palomino Beach
It was supposed to be a relaxing tube down the Palomino River at least. It started with a 15 minute mototaxi ride, on dirt roads, in swimming gear, whilst carrying a giant inflated inner tube. Then a reasonably tough up hill walk, trying to chat to the group of Colombians we had met en route. Luckily one spoke much better English than we spoke Spanish. And finally we made it to the river, I got some amazing photo's of the group of us before we set off, then took comical ones of Sophie perching hands and knees on her tube. And we slowly floated down the river, drinking beer and chillaxing trying not to get swept the wrong way. Then disaster struck! After a moment of stupidity on Kim's part, trying to play Battle Tubes! (I might be stretching the truth on who's really to blame there.) My camera slipped off my lap (the wrist strap had broken and had a long selfie stick attached) and was lost forever to the murky depths of the Palomino river :( Google 'Tubing Palomino' to see plenty of other peoples photo's that weren't stupid enough to lose their camera.

So Unfortunately no good photo's of that and it slightly tarnished the amazing day. But oh well, it was still an amazing trip. 2 hour's floating down a river to arrive back at the beach front hostel and give my camera a good sending off with some bevvies!

A bit more of a quick overview, but Colombia has been incredibly busy! With only staying for 1 or two nights in most places for the first few weeks we burnt out a bit.