Hola, amigos! I haven’t updated in a little while. Sorry to all you avid readers. I’ll try to update more regularly from now on but I promise nothing (I’m usually too busy complaining). I’ll break down the 4 places we visited in the north of Colombia in the next few posts.
After the the lessons learnt in Bogota, we flew to the next place on our Colombian list – Cartagena. Passing through security on both ends was the quickest and easiest experience I have had in any airport. At least I couldn’t moan about this! The flight was seamless and even included a terrible coffee and some in-flight entertainment. Safe to say, it was a reasonably enjoyable hour. We landed, sped through to baggage reclaim, grabbed our bags and jumped into a taxi. 13,000 COP (about 4 pounds) all the way to our hostel was an absolute bargain! The moment we got out of the taxi, an intense and unwavering wall of heat hit us. How lovely to have some sun, we thought. How wrong we would be. We left our bags at the hostel (too early to check in, of course) and went off to explore.
After walking past many Colombian houses and getting some funny looks, we came across what looked like a cute little bar and ordered dos cervezas. The beers were ice-cold and went down a treat. It was then that we noticed that we were literally in someone’s back garden. Their washing was even on the line! Finding this quirky, we had another 2 beers and wasted some time. Unfortunately, the bush I was sitting next to was teeming with mosquitoes who inevitably devoured me in any place they could. How knew elbows were a prime spot?! Of course, because I did some excellent complaining, we then had to leave the bar and miserably wait to check in at the hostel. For once, I couldn’t complain here – wi-fi worked well, air-conditioning was good and the pool was welcome relief from the heat (which we were bored with a few hours in.)
We immediately booked on a tour to the nearby mud volcano for the following day and headed off to the centre. (Brief side-note here: surprisingly, we decided not to go to a hole in the ground where strangers rub your backs with mud and then expect a tip for it). A shocking lunch came next with very rude service and cold food. The old town was absolutely beautiful, with the surrounding wall enclosing stunning colonial architecture, buildings and sights. The only problem was that the entire town was a complete rip-off! 8,000 COP for a coffee had us running in disgust and searching for hours for a reasonably priced cafe. We had no luck. The food wasn’t much cheaper. We soon learnt that Cartagena itself was more style than substance and a real tourist trap.
The most genuine place we found was down by the sea. We stumbled across 4 fishermen at work whilst 3 types of incredible birds surrounded them, trying to get a morsel of fish. It was one of my favourite memories to date. Trying to eat dinner that evening wasn’t easy either and it turned out that pizza restaurants were EVERYWHERE. We ended up eating in the same place twice because we were so bored of looking at expensive pizza menus. If you were wondering, we had pizza both nights…
The next day was more positive, mainly because of a small coffee shop that we found in the old town (ironic after searching for so long the day before). We were immediately made to feel welcome and were served by a knowledgable and enthusiastic man who clearly loved his job. We tried a delicious coffee and then received an impromptu lesson in the history of Colombian coffee – smelling and tasting different coffee beans. I absolutely loved it. If you ever find yourself in Cartagena, be sure to check out Folklore Coffee.
After 2 nights in Cartagena, we were ready to move on and left for Santa Marta. It was only when we got 2 hours into the 5 hour journey that I realised I had left my brand-new Haviana flip-flops at the hostel. Oh the joys of travelling. The worrisome wayfarer saga continues.