Finally came the day I was looking for – moving away from Cartagena.
In my original plan I was supposed to pass a few days in Barranquilla (famous for shitty beaches, ugly city and being Shakiras’ hometown).
I took a bus that was going directly to Santa Marta. Of course, instead of 4 hours as scheduled the transit time was almost 7, and this only thanks to the driver of our little bus who knew the shortcuts and from time to time was willing to break traffic rules, otherwise the time would be easily doubled.
I decided to go for the location in the new place. Hotel was 1 block from plaza de los novios – the most popular party place in whole city. Tons of bars, discos, cafes was within couple of minutes by walk. So was the marina, port and the beach. The latter was of very bad quality with dirty water, probably thanks to the port that was 5 minutes by walk from it. Later I learned that for more-or-less decent beach I should go to Rodadero (around 25 minutes by public transport towards the airport direction).
On the bus I met by total casualty a fellow polish guy, it turned out we were going to the same hotel. At first I thought he was a nice american guy (the way he spoke spanish, as well as by looks – well into XL size). Only when we started talking it turned out that we live in the same city.
Upon arrival, we both decided to go and eat something, since whole day on snacks wasn’t the best thing for the stomach. We were recomended restaurant La Cucharita, 1 block from the hotel.
We both ordered Bandeja Paisa – the famous dish from Paisa region (surroundings of Medellin). It was extremely filling, with various types of meet (chicken, beef and pig), as well as various types of sausages, accompanied by beans, rice, french fries and salad. It was easily enough for a hard working man to be properly fed by this meal. What is untypical in my case, I didn’t manage to finish (portions are usually too small for me).
The fellow traveller decided to call it a night, since next morning he was leaving for 5 days trekking to Ciudad Perdida (Lost City). I wasn’t that ambitious and all I wanted for next few days was booze, food and beach.
After a quick-semi nap I decided to take advantage of the hotel location and go party. However, my energy was so low that after wandering for less than 15 minutes accompanied by yawning dearly, I decided it was time to go to bed. But the energy of the place was tremendous. Music playing from each bar, often 2 or 3 soundtracks mingling with each other, reminding me of this crazy type of place in Pattaya or Koh Phi Phi in Thailand.
Next day was going to be a classic routine – grab breakfast (same place as dinner last night), some shopping, stroll down the beach (not getting into the water though!), some lunch, repeat the stroll.. Just before dinner something wrong started happening to my stomach. Which was weird becuase I was only eating in one place (recommended by hotel) and drinking bottled water.
I quickly walked (or semi-run) to the hotel, in spite of heavy rain. It was much better decision than searching for bathroom in the city. To spare details, I didn’t have such stomach problems for at least 7 years. So next day I didn’t eat nothing and didn’t even feel hungry.
In the meantime I contacted with the guy from CouchSurfing – Seba, who posted about willingness to go to Parque Tayrona – one the highlights for every traveller in Colombia, due to its unspoiled nature, long hiking trails and crystal clear water (or at least this was what I heard from basically everyone regarding the place).
On my shopping list there were snacks, lots of water, and snorkling set. For the former I overpayed dearly (the biggest shop around had either this one, that was basically for children for 28K, or professional one for 153K, much above of what I wanted to pay). I went for the basic one, with expectation that I’ll throw it away if it lets too much water in.
Bought the rest of the equipment, and headed home to pack the stuff. In the meantime was discussing the details of meet-up with Seba. We finally decided to meet up at the gate of the park, since we lived very far away from each other.