After experiencing the luxury of Isla Baru compliments of my wonderful boyfriend, I knew it was my turn to treat him. So I booked us a private room with AC at a top rated hostel!!
The hostel was in Santa Marta, a four bus ride north of Cartagena and also on the coast. The hostel was great; full service bar, rooftop terrace, and plenty of backpackers.
We got into Santa Marta late (compliments of my Cartagena meltdown) so after we settled in (throwing my pack on the floor), and drank our welcome drink, we went out for dinner.
No more luxury dinner. It was street meat time. Side note: I think opening a chippendales-esc show named Street Meat would make millions.
We walked a few blocks and found street meat heaven. Vendors making fresh delicious food that smelled like foodie joy.
If these vendors were going to get a letter rating from the US health department, and D- would be generous.
All of the scraps (including raw meat) were thrown onto the floor. Some smoked cigarettes while they cooked. The perishable food was kept in ice chests, but I would be surprised if there was actual ice in them.
Before I turn your stomach, what these vendors lacked in health codes, they more than made up for in deliciousness.
We ate Colombian style Carne asada fries; fries with chicharon, lettuce, cheese, a mysterious white sauce, and angel tears for extra flavor. I also got a juice from a juice stand man where I told him which main fruits I wanted (pineapple papaya and orange). He then blended the fresh fruit with ice and made me the most incredible smoothie which he gave to me in a Tupperware with a straw. I think it cost 85 cents.
Then obviously there we dessert empanadas because they were only 60 cents. Later that night, a beggar asked us for money and alex offered him an empanada (which I think meant more to him than a few colombian pesos given his excitement level when buying them) and the man declined because he was “thirsty” (for crack). Which is unfortunately a huge problem in Colombia given the white gold industry. Despite being gorgeous and safe, Colombia is still a poor nation and the impoverished population is much to big.
The good news (selfish news) was that the empanadas were delicious for breakfast the next morning.
After our healthy breakfast (including apples!) we headed to Parque Tayrona, a national park about an hour north of Santa Marta. Ever since Alex and I decided to travel to Colombia, we have been emailing back and forth a picture from the park. The picture is from Cabo San Juan, one of the last accessible by foot beaches in the park. Tayrona is huge, but most of it is jungle with no accessible trails. From the main entrance, we hiked about two hours until Cabo San Luis, passing beautiful beaches slog the way. The hike was great; especially the parts that were just walking on the hot sand. The park is known for these giant boulders on the sand. I’m not sure how they got there (and haven’t looked it up) but my theory – ancient aliens.
We spent a few wonderful hours enjoying Cabo San Luis. Palm trees to lay under and cool refreshing water to swim in. In order to get back to Santa Marta, we could either hike back to the main entrance and then take a bus to Santa Marta, or take a boat that would take us almost entirely to Santa Marta. Call us lazy, but we just got to see even more of the park by taking the boat. And we almost lost our lives in the Perfect Storm sized waves.
The boat was about 35 ft long with Bench style seats around the perimeter. You know the ride is going to be serious when the boat captain and his helpers were all wearing life vests and holding on. The ride was crazy. So many stomach dropping waves. But the views…unreal. It was a true rugged beauty; dark water crashing violently against black jagged rock. So cool. And alex and I were thoroughly entertained by the girl who was clearly seasick. I think we were both secretly wishing she would throw up for pure selfish entertainment reasons.
We flew out the next day where we spent our last night in Bogota before I hopped on a plane to Peru and alex grabbed one back to the states.
I’ll end my Colombian blogs on this note; just because the water is safe to drink in Bogota doesn’t mean it’s safe to drink in Santa Marta. I’ll skip the details.