Note: This is a condensed version of the pictures I took with some added narrative. The rest of the pics can be viewed in the album The Trip 2013 – Cartagena to Taganga. Each picture can be clicked to see a larger version and comment / like.
After 10 days up in the chilly hills I was looking forward to getting down to the coast and enjoying some of the sun and beach again. First up was the ancient colonial town of Cartagena. This place is a dichotomy of poverty and wealth thanks to the large number of western tourists that visit the city.
The first couple of days I stayed in a party hostel and so spent most of my time drinking and not sleeping. I did take a break at one point though to visit the famous ‘Mud Volcano’.
Inside of it is a big hole that at the bottom is filled with mud. You ease your self down a mud slicked ladder until you reach the grey goop.
There were already a load of people wallowing around when I got in. It was almost impossible to move in there so you had to grab onto whatever body part is available to move yourself about.
Apparently the mud goes down for 2km into the earth. The mud was so buoyant that I couldn’t actually go down to see how far it went. I did stick my head under though which in hindsight was a poor idea as my hands were covered in mud too so I couldn’t remove the insidious stuff from my eyes and mouth.
After the parties I decided I needed to rest for a little while so I shut myself away in a hotel. I spent the days chilling out and exploring more of the city. On the sunday I walked along the wall to watch the sunset and watch hundreds of people flying kites.
After my days of solitude I was ready to enter the fray again. This time I had chosen a different hostel called the Calamari which turned out to have the nicest dorm room I had ever stayed in.
In the evening I went out to meet Anna my German friend from the San Blas islands in Panama.
We went to a German / Colombian film evening and watched a German movie with Spanish subtitles. Seeings as I speak neither German nor Spanish I was able to pick up a fair bit of what was going on.
After the movie we headed to a square where loads of people hang out and drink. We were sat there chatting when a drunk dodgy looking Colombian shuffles over and sits behind us. I had my eye on him so when after 10 minutes he leans over throws some posters over my knee I was expecting something. Sure enough he swipes my camera, throwing it between his legs. I looked at him directly in the eyes and said “NO. Give me that back. NO”, he feigns confusion at first before finally giving me my camera back. Lesson learnt there, always have your wits about you.
The following day I went with two awesome Germans, Andrea and Edhita to the nearest nice beach to Cartagena, Playa Blanca.
Getting there was a hot sweaty and confusing episode. We did get to see some pretty things along the way but I think we would rather have gone straight to the beach rather than ride around in a boat for hours.
The following day I took off up the coast to the next large city of Santa Marta. I have mixed feelings about that place, I loved the hostel I stayed at, La Brisa Loca;
But the city itself was kind of sketchy and industrial. I walked along the beach one day with an American friend I had made called Molly, we saw some interesting things along the way..
Throughout my time at the baking hot coast I made frequent stops to the inexpensive juice vendors that were scattered all over the city. Theres nothing quite like a cup of ice cold lime juice when you are sweating buckets.
We stopped for lunch at a small cafe, I decided to go for a ‘scissor kick’ empinada.
After a few days of heavy partying in Santa Marta I was ready to move on. I had booked to do a three day Scuba diving course in the town just over the hill called Taganga so I headed over there.
My hostel was called ‘La Tortuga’ because of the friendly little reptile that patrolled the premises.
Taganga used to be a small fishing village before it started to get taken over by tourists.
Its known as being quite sketchy at night, I didnt have any problems tho I did confine myself to either the beachfront or the hostel most of the time.
I got my ass whooped in chess by the owner of one of the restaurants one night.
The main reason I was there though was to take advantage of the excellent and cheap Scuba diving. After one day of training and confined water practice in the pool I was ready to go out into the ocean with my excellent instructor Alejendra.
We saw some awesome things down there on the reef.
Seeing all the sea life was great but the thing I enjoyed the most was the freedom of movement that the scuba diving afforded. I couldnt get enough of simply simming upsidown. It got to the point that Alejandra was calling me ‘Trumpet Boy’ as I was immitating the Trumpet Fish so much.
The evenings were mostly spent chilling at the hostel. I shared my small 3-man dorm with a pair of awesome Sweeds called Alex and Lisa.
They made my stay at the hostel so much more enjoyable than it would have been by myself. They also introduced me to the rather excellent sport of Free Diving, but more on that in the next post!