Every other blog I have seen has combined Santa Marta and Parque Tayrona into one post, and I will be no different. I imagine this is partly logistical as there is no wifi in Tayrona, that’s my excuse for being a sheep at least..
First though, I arrived in Bogota having left myself a 4 hour layover until my connection to Santa Marta. Certainly didn’t want to miss it, but would that be enough time? What if my flight is delayed? What if immigration takes forever? What if my luggage takes ages to arrive?
Fortunately, all went smoothly. Maybe too smoothly I thought. We arrived 10 minutes early, immigration was all of 5 and my bag was on the belt not 15 later. It’s always so nice when everything goes so well, but that did leave me with 3 hours to kill until my flight. I transferred through to the domestic terminal to check in and had a laugh with the lady there about how early I was, so she moved me to an earlier flight! Easy.. There was one hiccup when I arrived without Pesos. There was nowhere open to change my dollars, and I couldn’t take out any cash. When a taxi driver offered to take dollars I knew he was going to screw me on the rate, but at this stage I didn’t have a choice. When I realised it had probably only cost me about £2 more I couldn’t blame him too much!
Santa Marta is a lovely little place, though the (self-proclaimed) Pearl of the Caribbean may be pushing it a little! In fairness, I haven’t travelled the Caribbean extensively so what do I know? I went for a wander around on my first morning and took in some of the sites. Hadn’t expected a group of old men drinking outside the public bogs at 9am on a Sunday to care so much about how I was, but shout they did. Nothing malicious, I think they genuinely wanted to be friendly which has been a recurring theme throughout my stay so far. Still odd though..
A highlight for me was definitely the cathedral. Now, I’ve seen a fair few cathedrals in my time. Especially in Spain, where the massive feats of architecture dominate most cities. Two things that always come to mind when I see them, oppression and opulence. Impressive of course, but I am still not a massive fan of the hordes of gold plundered from (mainly) South America. This cathedral offered something of a contrast. It actually felt like a place of worship. People were coming and going to pray. No big door to keep people out, in fact there were 3 different entrances you could use. Sure it was a little tatty, but shouldn’t modesty be higher on the list that opulence anyway? An ethnically correct statue of Jesus really sold me on it.
The Museo del Oro (Museum of Gold), didn’t have all that much gold on display – it’s probably on display in cathedrals across Spain. What it did have though was a really interesting exhibit on Boliviar, the liberator of Colombia (as well as Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador and obviously Bolivia). Turns out he died here in Santa Marta, and it really was pretty cool to walk around the rooms where he spent his last days. Here is a statue of him in the Parque de Boliviar, as well as the founder of the city who they say was the most humanitarian of the conquistadores. High praise indeed.
The next day I got the bus to Tayrona and trekked over to the campsite. It’s basically jungle right up to the beach, so I got quite a few decent pictures. I’ve also included the sign at the entrance which translates to – This park belongs to all Colombians, some have already died, others are still living, but the majority have yet to be born.
As previously mentioned, there’s no wifi there, but the real negative was sleeping in a hammock. “Negative?!” you cry in disbelief. Yes, negative. Whilst perfect for a nap in the sun, trying to sleep for a full night is a little more tricky. That is especially true when your hammock is in a hut alongside about 60 others. Everyone knows you’re more likely to snore if you sleep on your back. Well try 60 people in the same space sleeping in something where there really isn’t any other way to lie.. Exactly.
With loads of time to sleep on the beach and read though, being tired wasn’t too much of an issue. I even went on a hike up to El Pueblito where around 2000 people had lived in 450-1600. What I hadn’t realised was that people were still living there, and seemingly expanding. Babies were crying, and new huts were being built. Pretty cool place right in the middle of the jungle. Cue more photos.
As far as wildlife in the jungle goes, there’s loads of cool stuff which is apparently there. Unfortunately didn’t happen to stumble upon a jaguar, but did get some pictures of ants, a lizard and a frog. Favourite one though has to be the stick insect. Surely the whole premise of this animal’s existence is camouflage. This guy missed the memo and was hanging out on some corrugated iron.
The title photo of this is a sign I found inside which says “Si amas más los zapatos que el camino, no vale la pena caminar.” It means, if you love shoes more than the walk, then the walk isn’t worth it.
Just thought that was quite a good quote, even if the sign was heavily graffitied! Anyway, back in Santa Marta now and need to make plans going forwards. Life goes on.