07.03.2011 - 11.03.2011 36 °C
Just a ten-minute taxi ride from Santa Marta to the sheltered bay of Taganga but the atmosphere couldn’t be more different. I was still well overdue some proper kick back time on the beach having ended up enjoying more of the Carnival ‘festivities’ than expected in Santa Marta. Sadly for me, this was not going to be Costa del Taganga but instead this place was noisy, edgy, dirty and full of spaced out backpackers. I nicknamed it ‘favela on sea’! Actually that is quite an insult as the favela I visited in Rio had a lot more class!
Luckily, I found a cute hostel up a little bit in the hills, just about far enough away from the all-day street parties with the deafening salsa music and the whispers of ‘cheap cocaine?’ The hostel was run by a crazy French lady who made me laugh, had a lovely rooftop mojito bar and a swimming pool. Met some great people here thank goodness, most of them, like me, had been recommended this resort as a quiet fishing village. WHAT? First person I meet by the pool is a travelling granddad from Florida with a huge tattoo on his back of the world. He had travelled all over and was trying to publish a book to help more people from the US go backpacking. Blatantly avoiding any travel to Russia or China as he was getting the countries on his tattoo coloured in when he had been there! Yikes Canada and Brazil must have hurt!
I was lounging around bantering with this guy when I heard a familiar voice; it was Barbara the German doctor!!! We had completely failed to arrange a place to meet as neither of us had been able to get online much but here we were bumping into each other, staying in the same hostel in rooms next door to each other just as we had in Cartagena. Sometimes these chance coincidences while travelling freak me out! She had arranged to meet a friend later that evening from Germany so I joined them for happy hour mojitos in one of the beachfront bars. Well, there was me thinking that the beautiful sunrise I had experienced on the Amazon river was to be the last one of this trip. These quiet sunset drinks, some fun company, then BAM where did the time go? Before I knew it some of the MANY cocks were crowing, actually no this is Taganga nothing is quiet here, the cocks were SCREECHING, followed soon after by sunrise, before I could finally hit the sack. Very random night, I remember live music, rooftop bars, beers on the beach from the 24-hour ‘emergency’ shop, offer of Spanish lessons from a drunken sailor just out of prison for drug trafficking oh and something about a kitten suckling on a dogs teets! Haha! Taganga was that kind of place, ie. Not really for me! Oh well, I made the most of it. My tolerance was tested to the limit though when I had just got to bed around 7am and boom boom boom LOUD MUSIC! What in the hell is it with this place?
Could have done without the all night partying really to be honest. A whole year of travelling was catching up with me and I was starting to wind down and definitely getting a bit irritable. Maybe I was starting to stress about going back to the UK and the little issue of having lost my job. Barbara hated Taganga too so decided to go to the nearby Tayrona national park, a place truly to relax on beautiful beaches and sleep on hammocks. I thought about it but it would have meant a whole day of trekking to get there and back and therefore not much chilling time before having to catch my flight to Bogota. I decided to cut my losses and stay in the shithole.
This place did have some charms I guess. A little trek along the cliffs and it looks quite pretty from a distance when you couldn’t see the rubbish strewn all over the beach, the annoying street vendors and the cliché backpacker brigade. I found a reasonable spot on the beach for doing nothing and I did OK for a few days. My mojito consumption went up several fold just so I could survive but I did enjoy the dinners on the beach being serenaded while witnessing some of the fieriest sunsets ever known to mankind.
Still, I was actually relieved when it was time to leave for my flight to Bogota. The tiny airport at Santa Marta providing some prime mullet spotting opportunities, a great way to pass the time. I also couldn’t help but notice the abundance of ‘plastic fantastics’. I knew that Colombia is known as a plastic surgery mecca but wasn’t quite prepared for the display of ridiculously siliconed breasts and butt cheeks that you could rest your pint on!! Oh well off to Bogota for my final week in South America before I make my final haul across the Atlantic.