Colombia: the coastal experience and more heat

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Cartagena de Indias: the gem of the Caribbean

Cartagena de Indias: the gem of the Caribbean

I am on my way to Bogota and as it will be the last stop on this fabulous journey before returning to the continent of Europe, I am thinking of all the place I have been in Colombia and haven’t reported about.

In Medellin while residing in swanky El Poblado I did return to grittier Downtown, which is few stops by metro. The metro system of Medellin is the only one in the country and a source of great pride to Paisas. The people of the city wouldn’t dream of soiling or vandalising it and any unthinkable attempt would probably be met with a lynch mob. I got off at San Antonio to wander around the neighbourhood as if I’m a local and when the afternoon heat kicked in I went to the well-set up, insightful and entertaining Museo de Antioqiua, housed in an impressive art deco building. The museum is located at the Plazoleta las Esculturas, which is also called Plaza Botero, as the square is the home to two dozen or so larger-than-life sculptures by painter, sculptor and Medellin native Fernando Botero.

Plaza Botero

Plaza Botero

After big-city action I went a bit off the beaten track and took a bus to Turbo, a rather gritty town at the coast. From there I was to take a boat to the town of Capurguana, a remote and laid back place close to the border with Panama, which can only be reached by sea or air. The boat trip was about 3 hours and although quite fun at the beginning, rough sea and the light boat proved too much for my constitution. Although we made a stop after 2 hours at a most idyllic beach, I set foot in Capurguana rather shaky and bruised by all the ocean bumpiness. Upon arrival I was invited to stay at a hippy hostel, where I slept in a hammock with the jungle as the set and the sounds of the sea as a soundtrack. Life can be so tough. The next day I walked through mountainous jungle terrain to the neigbouring village of Sapzurro, which is even more laid back and has a much nicer and more idyllic beach. At one point during the walk on top of a hill one can see Capurguana lying to the east and Sapzurro on the other side. Sapzurro is attached to the Panamanian village of La Miel. Although I didn’t have my passport with me I walked straight into Panama and back again.

Ze beech at La Miel just across the border in Panama

Ze beech at La Miel just across the border in Panama

As I need wi-fi to work and Capurguana nor Sapzurro has any that actually functions, I had to leave to go to places that can be reached through cyber space. Luckily I didn’t need to take the boat back to Turbo and I went for a far more pleasant sea ride to the town of Necocli. From there I took a bus to the most wonderful city of Cartagena. It’s beautiful, it’s colourful, it’s romantic, it’s cultural, it’s hot, it’s elegant; it’s just fabulous. Like most traveller- tourists I stayed within the historic centre as I am sure there are grittier neighbourhoods to be found in the city that counts a bit under one million inhabitants. After 10 days of Cartagena vibes I made my way to Palomino, where the beaches are chilled and the sea is rough. Rough seas make a fabulous sea side soundtrack, but are less convenient for swimming and the sea at Palomino has dangerous currents. There is no cash machine in the village and the nearest is in Santa Marta, which is a bit less than an hour and a half a way. Too long a trip just to get cash and after 4 nights I was done with Palomino anyway. As I’m a quite a beach junkie, as I discovered on this trip, I wasn’t ready to say farewell to the seaside just yet and instead of opting for chilled, lush and cooler Minca in the mountains near Santa Marta, I decided to go to Taganga.

Taganga is a bit of a shit hole. It’s dry, stinking hot and most of the town has unpaved roads, which are uneven and have a fair amount of rubbish. As the town lies in a bay the sea is calm and quite clear, which is perfect for swimming, yet the beach is not particularly nice and there is always a smell of dog and cat piss in the air. I stayed for two weeks anyway. There is the sea and the hostel I stayed at is very pleasant and most affordable. Another big pull was that there was an easy and generous supply of herbs, which could be consumed in the comfort of the hostel’s court yard as everyone was at it. It was a peculiar situation to be in. To save some money, as I hadn’t done a great amount of work the month before, I decided to stay put for a while and reside at inexpensive hostels, while still having the sea close by as the sun and sea are good for my skin and general constitution. As it was a challenge to escape the heat and ignore the smell of piss and general waste I wondered why I on earth I got myself stuck there. But then I had several dips into the sea, cool interactions with other travellers and a considerable amount of spliffs and it wasn’t all bad.

As soon as some money trickled in I left the coast and went to the colonial city of Barichara. If I were still in my 20s I probably would’ve found it dead boring as besides enjoying the town’s beauty, hiking 6 km to a neighbouring village in nice surroundings and having good food, there is no action to be had. Compared to the coast temperatures were most bearably, I had some good food, loved the hike to Guane along el Camino Real, a path that has been paved with stones in ancient times and I was in good company with charming- and fit- yank Ryan with whom I consumed my last remaining herbs on the dead quiet streets of town.

And all that leaves me now is a less intoxicating life and the action in the capital city of Bogotá. They say it can be cold and rainy in that massive village in the Andes. I’m not looking forward to it, but I guess it might be good preparation for the western European climate. Although I might be pleasantly surprised and arrive in decent weather.

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About Lemba

Non-conformist Writing Soul and Language Geek from the Lowlands with a South London accent, currently living a nomadic, location- independent lifestyle. While executing the Big Fat Writing Plan I’m invading cyberspace with my views on 'expat living', travel and other lifestyle choices, current affairs and other randomness. Welcome to the Dark Fairy Zone.

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