We headed east from Cartagena on Monday March 31st and stayed in Santa Marta, population about 450,000. It’s location and protected harbor attracted the Spanish, who made it their first home in the 1520’s. They subsequently developed a larger presence in Cartagena about 10 years later when they discovered Cartagena had a better defensible port.
Today, Santa Marta is developing into a tourist spot given its proximity to two large national parks, Tayrona and Sierra Nevada. Santa Marta is dryer than Cartagena – even more so this year because it hasn’t rained in 5 months. As you drive east the palm trees are replaced by cacti.
Not much to do in Santa Marta. We did find a great place to eat, though, enjoyed the sunset and, of course, found a place to work out. I took a pilates class on an open deck looking out over the harbor.
Wednesday, the 2nd, we got a ride further east to Guechaca, where Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains meets the ocean. The climate is jungle with clouds shrouding the mountain peaks. Lots of banana plantations outside of town. We stayed on the beach with Yos and Claudia, friends of Luis. Both of us agree this was a HIGH POINT of the trip. Over the last 15 years or so, they’ve developed a farm and retreat. It is all word of mouth, no electricity and right on the beach. We wish we had stayed longer!!!!
We made some new friends. It was only us, Yos and Claudia, and for the first night Yos’s sister Olga and partner Krishna. Claudia practiced English with me, I practiced my Spanish and learned many new recipes. And to top it all off, we did some yoga in the pavilion – one morning Claudia even lead us. One day we took a hike in the Tayrona National Park, along the beach. It was warm, but cloudy that day. If it had been sunny, we would have fried.
We left too soon!
All of our transitions from place to place have happened without a hitch. But, today, was the exception. We got stuck in Cartagena because of equipment problems. (In Columbia, they don’t announce the problem, everyone stands in line). Evidently, a bird flew into the engine, so we lost the equipment and our connection in Bogota to Lima. Avianca has gotten us a flight on LAN through Medellin and Quito….. If all goes according to this new plan, we’ll arrive in Lima about 7 hours late at 10:30 tonight. The one silver lining is we were able to use the Avianca VIP lounge where there is fast internet service.