Santa Marta, Taganga and Tyrona

Trip Start Mar 31, 2008
Trip End Jul 04, 2008

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Our trip to Santa Marta was our first experience of driving in Colombia. The landscape soon changed as we left the city and soon saw farmers with donkeys, cacti and people fishing. Everything was very brown as we headed inland until we got closer to the coast again near the river. There were heaps of people making their living at the road toll gates and in the small towns by selling food and drink to people travelling through.

Our mini van driver had a few problems with roads being blocked by road works and had to reverse back down a one way street, but the best was yet to come, with our driver following a bus that passed a truck on a double yellow line just before the crest of a hill. I thought "Glad Im not in that bus" only for our bus to follow suit. The scariest moment was when there was a taxi coming the other way - it had to swerve to avoid us! Crazy. So we were glad to get to Santa Marta in one piece.

Well, we didn't quite get to Santa Marta. We got off the bus too early and ended up in the suburb before it, even after I had been practising how to ask where our stop was. But we figured it our with the help of some friendly locals and got a cheap taxi right to the Hostal we wanted to stay at.

Santa Marta had a nice enough beach, but we were a bit spoilt after Playa Blanca so decided to check out the Museum instead which had a scale model of the Lost City. It looked really cool, but we didn't have enough time left for 6 days of tramping to get there and back, so we decided to take a tour to an old Indian city called Publeto in the Tyrona National Park instead.

We were glad we got started our walk early the next day as it was hot by 10am even in the bush. We were lucky enough to see the tallest mountain in the region before the cloud set in and got to shake the hand of some of the local Kogi Indians who knew our guide when we stopped for a rest. Publeto itself used to be a trading hub for the Indians and it was cool to see a family still living there the way they have always lived for centuries. We brought them some gifts of rice and sugar and coffee, and enjoyed checking out the old village ruins before heading up the hill and down to the beach.

The way down was major boulder hopping and a good workout so we were glad to see the ocean again and have lunch in the shade at the cabana on the beach. It was a gorgeous beach and we went for a swim and read our books before walking back to one of the other beaches to stay for the night. It was very basic and we slept in a hammock, but glad to have a shower and just relax at the end of our long day.

We came out the next day and headed to Taganga - a small town over the hill from Santa Marta with another couple of beaches popular with the locals. The town was full of beach front resturants, with each of them competing to see who could play the loudest music. But the food was good and our hostal "Le Casa de Filipe" was great - with views of the bay and we enjoyed just chilling there. 

We spent the next day going for a walk over the hill to the next beach - Playa Grande and had the best grilled fish for lunch at one of the resurants over there.  It was good timing as it was our last day in the Caribbean and we had started to get sick of fish, so great to end it on a high. It was time to head South and make our way down towards Bogota.
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