|Cartagena - the jewel on the Caribbean.|
|Too hot for the locals too.|
|Gate entrance to Cuidad Vieja.|
|Show store on the street.|
|Who love ya baby?|
|Siesta time on the city walls.|
|Bike parking but with a touch of art - we are in South America after all!|
|Art store in Cartagena.|
|Street art in Cartagena.|
|Paint flaking off becomes Art.|
|Old Town of Cartagena.|
|Get your hair cut on the street.|
|Some of the colourful and amazing street art in Cartagena.|
The next stop was Taganga, a town also on the coast and about 4 hours away from Cartagena. We'd heard it was nice from a few other backpackers, and sometimes these turn out ok and sometimes they are disappointing. This was was the later. Firstly the bus' aircon wasnt working, so we were all sweating buckets,when we arrived, we were dropped off in a tiny town with no paved roads, it was hot as hell, our hostel wasn't answering their doorbell or our yelling and the town was also quite dirty. We found a hostel and explored the town, but we didn't like it very much at all - the 'beach' was dirty (we even saw people urinating in it), the bars along the main street were always pumping our regaton at full volume (11 even), and there wasn't much to see to be honest. The next day we walked around a bit, didn't swim, but saw the sunset from the lookout point. For some reason this palace was a 'hippie hangout,' where they sat around with their dreads, no shoes, dogs, made bracelets and played the drums. We decided to head to Santa Marta in the hope of something nicer. Santa Marta is about 20 minutes from Taganga and although much prettier, there isn't much here to do or see either. We walked along the beach (which was much cleaner), ate ice cream and visited a museum too. Santa Marta was probably put on the map as it is where Simon Bolivar died. I don't know the circumstances, whether he was sick or not, but I decided that he died of boredom.
A place worth mentioning though is the beautiful Parque Tayrona. It is a National Park about 2 hours drive from Santa Marta and very popular. It's not cheap to get in, probably due to it's popularity (42,000 pesos - $18). The park was established in 1964 and today gets nearly 300,000 visitors a year - the main reason people come up here apart from the 5 day Lost City trek from Santa Marta (which I didn't do). We had to get there early as a boat lands at midday and if you are unlucky all the tents and hammocks get booked at the popular beaches. We got the taxi to the park, paid our money and set off on the 2 hour hike to our beach. It was hot and sweaty going, but we made it before the boat and were first in line to book our place for tonight at El Cabo beach. There are two options - 10,000 a night for a hammock and 30,000 for a 2-person tent - we opted for the tent to keep insects out and to be a little warmer at night as we'd heard it gets really cold. The beaches are that postcard beautiful blue and white sands, but it is the strange rocks that really set this part apart. The jungle sits just 100m from the beach and there isn't much to do but lay on the beach, swim and relax in the sun. We did a 5km hike into the jungle to see an old village, but apart from that just swam and soaked up the sun - the water here was so cool and refreshing too. 2 days of this is enough though, I get bored at the beach - I much prefer hiking and mountains - and there were far too many people for my liking as well.
So far it had been 5 weeks in Colombia - time just flies! My time here was coming to an end, but the next destination was even more exciting! I visited Bogota briefly before flying out for Havana, and it gave me a chance to show Laurel around the city a bit and also make sure everything was ready for 2 weeks on no internet! I told my friends and family that I would be out of touch for the next 14 days while in Cuba - there is internet I discovered, but it was very limited, only available in certain plazas in big cities. I decided that I could go without being on Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp for a while, but needed to tell people or they might think I was dead - a few people got worried while I was in Torres for 5 days with no contact too. The ride to the airport went without a hitch, we got on the plane (got out last bit of WiFi at the boarding gate) and took off - 2 hours to Havana! We were two of only about 20 people on the plane - this flight goes only every Saturday and it was Cuban Airlines - there are other airlines that fly more frequently but are more expensive. The staff were friendly and the service good - I was super excited about Cuba for the next 2 weeks, something I had been dreaming of for more than 10 years! I was getting tired, really tired, after 6 months on the road, but my energy levels had picked up and I was rearing to go - VAMOS CUBA!
|Sunset in Santa Marta.|
|Sunset at Taganga|
|Sunset in Tayrona.|
|Relax, swim, sunbathe... repeat.|
|The rocks and sea of Tayrona.|
|Watching the sunset in Tayrona.|
|Tired but ready for Cuba!|