I’ve moved on from Santa Marta. Wednesday was fun but by the end I felt I had seen about everything the city had to offer. I met up with the Irish girls when I checked into the hostel and hit the beach with them. We spent three hours there swimming in garbage water right next to the tanker ships. I talked to some twelve year-old Colombian kid for most of that time. At first I was apprehensive assuming he was working me spare change. After an hour passed he still hadn’t asked for anything so I finally bought him a bag of chips. Santa Marta is a nice place, but it’s built up as a place for Colombians to visit for vacation. That sounds like something I’d like, but the result is an overpriced city of limited entertainment with a toxic beach. Two days was enough, I said goodbye to everyone and followed one of my leads from Tuesday’s rum and coke marathon.
Al is still recovering and as far as I know he still doesn’t have his bike back. The plan was to meet back on Saturday, but unless he’s feeling absolutely mobile by then I’d like to stay out of that hotel room a few more days. With plenty of time to kill, I took off for Taganga around 2:00pm this afternoon from Santa Marta. It’s known to be a little fishing/hippie village just over the hill from Santa Marta. The entire ride took about twenty-five minutes including my getting lost for most of it. It was probably eight miles in total, but offered some of the best views of the Caribbean that I’ve witnessed in the last several months. Just on the other side of the hill separating the two cities, the terrain changed completely. The foothills continued off inland and further down the coast as far as the eye can see. Tucked in a tiny bay is Taganga. The whole locale sits at the bottom of a green valley that funnels a cool breeze down from the mountains all day long. The tiny bay is filled with fishing vessels that double as water taxis. Looking out on the water from the swimming beach you can still see the cranes of Santa Marta over the hill, but otherwise it is a whole new world nestled along the Colombian coastline.
I wandered around a bit and finally ended up at the most popular hostel in town. Of course the place was full, but while there I ran into Liz and Michael again. Together we took off across town (about four blocks on dirt road) and ended up checking into La Tortuga Hostel. 25,000 pesos for a dorm bed with breakfast included. No A/C, but there’s the strong breeze and I’ll take it. Even though it was a short ride, the whole process of gearing up and sweating out left me completely drained. Michael, Liz, and I went upstairs to nurse a couple beers and soak in the incredible rooftop view.
We didn’t say much; instead we just blasted Red Hot Chili Peppers on the house stereo and stared off into the horizon. There’s a lot of times on this trip when I know I could be taking better advantage of the once in a lifetime opportunities that abound; this was not one of them. Looking out with sloping green foothills leading down to a coastal cliff line on each side of me, a sandy palm beach in between, I knew that swaying in the hammock with a beer in hand and sunglasses drawn was exactly what I needed to be doing.
The power went out around 7:00pm and since then I’ve been draining my netbook battery playing solitaire and listening to Watch the Throne. I think I’ll join up with Michael and Liz for the next couple days; as Vancouverites, they understand when I romantically reminisce about a nice mid-fifties overcast day with intermittent showers. Everyone is taking it easy tonight, saving energy for the notorious Taganga Friday night party scene. Saturday, Alex depending, we’d like to head another few miles east for the coastal national park down the way. Until then I’ve got a wide selection of hammocks to choose from.