Colombia’s Caribbean coast continued…
So, after coming to terms with the loss of my flip-flops (this took days, really), we arrived in Santa Marta expecting to find a lovely hotel, with our own bathroom, to relax in for 4 nights. The reality, however, was that the hotel we had booked was empty and MILES away from anything. Hoping we were just being dramatic, we dropped off our bags and walked to the main centre of Santa Marta. 25 minutes later we were still nowhere near and were exhausted from the 30 degree heat. We passed a grand total of 1 restaurant and plenty of dodgy streets. We decided that we couldn’t stay at the hotel and returned to try and get a refund. The issue here was that the woman at reception spoke no English and our Spanish is very limited. “No me gusto”, “quiero un reembolso”, “muy lejos” and “dos chicas solo” eventually got the message across and we got a refund for 2 out of 3 nights. Result! We booked a taxi and left for Taganga (a small fishing village nearby) full of hope for a more enjoyable stay.
The hostel we had chosen had amazing reviews on HostelWorld and seemed lovely at first – a nice outside area with a pool, a roof-top bar and a hammock overlooking the village. However, after closer inspection, we noticed that the room had no windows and just a tiny, barely-functioning fan to help(!) combat the heat. This may not seem like the end of the world, but when you are number 1 on mosquitoes’ most wanted list, this is a massive problem. It was the only thing I could think about and I was dreading the night ahead. Instead of complaining (that’s a lie) we set off for a “3 minute walk” (according to the hostel) down to the beach. 20 minutes later we made it. We found a nice taco place and watched the beautiful sunset and it actually turned into a lovely evening – disregarding the hair I found in my food. The walk back in almost complete darkness was terrifying – I’ve never seen so many stray dogs – and we decided one night was probably enough in Taganga. We didn’t sleep a wink that night and sweat almost half to death. So once again, we changed our plans and cancelled the other 2 nights in the hostel, resolving to give Santa Marta another chance.
The next hostel was much better – amazing air-con, a jacuzzi on the roof, a bar and free breakfast. We did end up changing rooms twice (1. Creepy old man, 2. Smelly group of boys) because we love to complain, and someone did steal my yoghurt, but we coped. Santa Marta, however, was not much better. It was too hot, too crowded and too smelly – not a particularly pleasant place to be if you ask me. Highlights of our stay included finding a great coffee place with air-con (La Canoa if you’re wondering) and eating wonderful arepas from a street seller (which, by the way, Santa Marta has TRILLIONS of). So, we spent 4 days drinking coffee, moaning about the heat and waiting for our flight to Medellin. We would have left early if we could have. We chose not to visit Parque Tayrona (beaches, treks, heat, people) for obvious reasons. We did go on one (half) day trip to a tiny place called Minca. The journey was winding, bumpy and full (one woman was even sat on a stool instead of in a seat). When we reached Minca, we trekked for an hour to spend 5 minutes at a disappointing waterfall (at least I went in!) and then walked all the way back. Luckily we saw some beautiful birds and amazing views.
We’ve realised, having spent quite a while on the coast of Colombia, that we are most certainly NOT beach people. My growing list of things to avoid whilst travelling includes: party hostels, mixed dorm rooms, heat, random hotels, trusting reviews, booking flights in advance and treks in 30+ degrees. On to Medellin!