Cartagena, Taganga, Santa Marta Reflections

We’ve found a bit of time to reflect today, mostly because Rick is suffering a bit of flu or something like it.  It’s hard for me to watch him be sick, in part because he never is.  I know if he is complaining that he’s sick, it’s to be taken seriously.  

Perhaps his illness came as a result of our weekend, which I have to say was awesome.  After our spanish classes ended around noon on Friday, we put our suitcases in storage at our hostel and with the bare minimum, boarded a bus for Santa Marta.  The town, about four hours away by bus, felt a bit further.  That was mostly due to our being wedged into a Marsol shuttle with very little air conditioning and constant mariachi-esque music.  I don’t mind the music, but it makes Rick crazy.  What bothers me, however, is when I can barely fit my short little legs into a seat.  How can people taller than my 5’4″ (e.g. most men and many women) fit into these seats with any semblance of comfort if I can’t fit?  There must be some sort of legal recourse for this…

Santa Marta

We arrived in Santa Marta in the early evening.  The sun had just set, and though nobody in the bus seemed sure where the ride would end, we got off at the second stop which we understood to be the city center.  We were right, but certainly not sure of ourselves until we checked a map.  We wandered to our hostel, La Hostal de Jackie, and checked in. It was a pretty nice place with a cool rooftop bar, though our room left something to be desired.  After a brief review of the recommended options in the guidebook, we made our way to the Plaza de Novios, which was hopping on a Friday night.  The square was surrounded by popular cafes with tables and patrons spilling out into the streets.  We chose Ouzo, one of the cafes the guidebook recommended and proceeded to eat what has so far been our best meal in Colombia.  This is an important distinction since almost every meal has been fabulous.  After dinner we walked down to check out the beach, but the waterfront was mostly industrial with only a few places for people to swim.  We did a similar walk through the city after breakfast in the morning, but I was itching to get to Tanganga so on we went.  


Taganga is clearly a must-do on the Gringo Trail.  The small town is full of young tourists, and it seemed to me that our hostel, La Masia Summer Hostel, was sort of the epicenter of that crowd.  We checked in just before noon and had the pleasure of watching many a hungover-looking 20-something emerge slowly from his or her room, heading to either the hostel cafe or a local restaurant to replenish himself from a big previous night.  It was pretty comical.  As we waited to check in an Aussie guy and his Irish travel-mate, whom he referred to as simply “Irish” made their way in.  Neither could find their passports, and one didn’t have the slightest idea what day it was.  I almost felt bad for them, but that didn’t stop me from giggling a bit at their antics.

But, tourists aside, Taganga is a picaresque fishing town, nestled in a blue bay surrounded by steep mountains that are much more arid than I anticipated.   The drive into the town is spectacular and reminiscent of some areas of Spain, from my recollection.  There is excellent food (I highly recommend Pachamama!) and the prices are good too.  We enjoyed cruising around the beach, having a drink and a meal along the water, and then we took a dip in the hostel’s pool where we could see the sunset over the Caribbean.  Not bad.

On Sunday we took a snorkeling trip to the Tayrona National Park.  It was a bit bittersweet for me – I was happy to be out on the water and soaking up the sun, but wish we’d been doing SCUBA.  Rick, however, is much happier when he is not wearing a weight belt and a mask in the water, and that’s fair.  So, snorkeling was a good compromise.  We hopped on a small boat which was taking some divers out, and spent the morning snorkeling at two neat spots in protected bays of the park.  Though it wasn’t quite like the SCUBA I did in Bali, or my dives on the Great Barrier Reef, I really enjoyed the corals and the diversity of smaller fish and sea life that we found in Tayrona.  The water was colder than I had anticipated, and I enjoyed that.  It was refreshing, clear, and the sea felt more active.    We stopped for lunch in a little bay with a small beach, then made our way back to Taganga.  

The day on the water was good for Rick and me.  We were happy to get sun on our faces and wind in our hair.  I think there is nothing more invigorating than being out on the water. Rick laughs at me, but I could stay in the water all day just gazing at fish.  I love it!

So, that was Taganga in a nutshell.  

We’re back in Cartagena and back in our spanish classes.  I really love this city – it deserves an entry of its own.  But that will have to come when my sick husband isn’t looking at me with puppy dog eyes begging me to come to bed.  Buenas noches!





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