Santa Marta, Santa Marta (Distrito Turístico Cultural E Histórico), Colombia
With limited wifi I tend to write and then upload when I can... Here is the start of my trip which actually took place about two weeks ago. I will say this is a wonderful start to a great year, but damn is it hot!!!!
What an amazing couple of days so far. After very little sleep I met a wonderful woman on the airplane from Bogota to Santa Marta who is originally from Santa Marta. She wanted to know where I was staying and when I told her the address of La Brisa Loca hostel she insisted the she take me there to make sure that I was staying in a safe place. Before I left my mom had asked for Angels to be with me throughout his year and I truly believe Señora Genith is just that.
I moved into this hostel on the recommendation of my parents friends who happen to be the owners of the hostel and from San Francisco. The place is beautiful and clean and people were very friendly as I arrived. Quiz night allowed me to meet a lot of people very quickly and I soon had invitations to join people on several outings. First thing I noticed is that everyone spoke English which wouldn't help my Spanish. Then I noticed most people where from Europe... Holland, France, Switzerland, England, and a few Americans but barely any! Then I noticed everyone smoked and since I hate cigarettes it is going to be an interesting year. I never realized how social smoking is as not too many ppl in the states smoke any more. The last thing I noticed is that no one wore any makeup... YAY!!!!
Perrine, a wonderful French woman befriended me immediately and suggested that I join her and her friends at Parke Tyrona which is this huge national park known for pristine beaches and sleeping in hammocks along the beach. Since it was my first night I decided to not go and instead try to get oriented with Santa Marta first.... Get a sim card, orient myself with the streets and try to figure out what all I want to do with the month and a half I now have free! I must say I have never met such nice French people since I was little, but they explained it's usually just the Parisians that are full of themselves and give France a bad rep:)
I met another girl from Kansas City, Kate... She was headed up to Minca, a small mountain town that has beautiful waterfalls and invited me along. She was planning on staying at a hostel that was on a coffee plantation and if you help out in the field they give you a discount on your stay. I'd love to see how coffee is gathered so count me in. After an hour drive into the mountains we came to a little town about two blocks long. We couldn't remember the name of the hostel so we got out and started walking into the mountains. We finally came across the hostel. Right before I left la brisa loca we were told of this beautiful hostel with great views but it was a bit of a hike to get there. I had a fantasy of what the hostel we were going to was like but I was completely wrong. Imagine being in the tropics where mold, plants, insects, etc grow rapidly with the humidity and rich soil. It's hard to keep things clean under those kind of circumstances. Now imagine a place that hasn't been cleaned in months and what you might find in a mattress that is exposed to the tropical rainforest. We walked in and I love camping but I never thought I'd pay to sleep in a place like that. Of course we came to find out the electricity was out and my fear of spiders crept into my dreams the entire night! We did make the most of it by walking down the mountain to get snacks, rum an beers. I decided I would need to consume a lot of alcohol to sleep through the night:) We walked back with a tiny flashlight and our bodyguard the hostel dog named Roofus... Best dog ever!!! He followed us everywhere and fought off other dogs and only asked for a scrap of food or a pat on the head. We were convinced either a person or a jaguar was going to jump out of the woods but roofus made us feel safe! We got back to candlelight, cards and laughs:) I turned my iPod on and we chatted and played cards till the candle burnt out. I will admit even though I was in my silk cocoon to make sure bedbugs didn't get me, the spiders over my head and the thought of how many other creatures were all around me and waking up to find an earwig on my blanket made it tough to sleep. We woke up the next morning to help on the farm only to discover it was just a garden an they needed help digging ditches and moving dirt. After 2 hrs of labor and 3 blisters later we headed into the city for lunch and then to find the waterfalls.
By this time, all of the Columbians that I had met were so incredibly nice. There seemed to be no theft and they were happy to talk ro you pr leave you alone whichever you prefered. But i continue to say the Columbians are the nicest people i have ever met, except maybe Thai people.
The food in Minca was yummy!!! Colombians put cheese and sauce on everything or the fry the food... And I was hoping I'd loose weight, ya right! There are so many fruits here that I have never even heard of it's so delicious!!! All of the juices are made fresh with either milk or water and the beat food in Minca was a place called cafe casa cafe I think it was called?
On our way to the waterfalls we stopped in to get some water at the store and the porch of the store was the dance floor for the festival that weekend. I was admiring the dancing... So romantic... I love the latin culture as the men treat women as ladies and dancing is so normal. One of the guys noticed me admiring the dancers and asked if I wanted to dance. I was about to say mo but then I thought why the hell not! So I gave my things to Kate and danced with the sweaty Colombian and had a blast!
We then hiked up the mountain past where we were staying and then off a fork in the road to the waterfall. The roads.... Take a pave road, put it in the middle of a tropical rainforest, watch the pavement get swept away because of the constant rain, the watch it deteriorate because no one ever fixes it and that is kinda what the road looks like... So now you see mostly dirt and rocks an the fork in the road led us down a mud path. We walled for about 40 minutes and Kate is half my height so I was constantly in front of her and she was running to catch up. I'm so grateful that I lived on limbed at in sf as the hills didn't even seem to phase me while Kate was constantly out of breath. We arrived at the waterfall and it took our breath away!!! Beautiful and huge!!! We saw all of the motor bikes that had been passing us on the way up and a tree had fallen on the bridge the night before so the locals showed us a path to get to the waterfall. It looked like the whole town was there:) I saw a rope swing an immediately started looking for a way to get there but it looked like I would have to cross the raging river above the waterfall to get there. We put our stuff down as we had been told no one steels in Minca, and headed into the water. After climbing the cliff we has to cross the river... There was a sweet local guy who offered to help us get across. He looked about my height so I figured it'd be fine but OMG was the water strong!!!! My top fell down but the guy finally got me to the other side and hen went to help kate who's top fell down as well because of the water. Hahhaaa they were gentlemen about us and the girls said not to worry. We watched a few of the guys jump off the rope swing and the branch looked like it was about to snap but it didn't. I watched Kate go and they kept telling me to try to go farther out and tuck my knees in because it was shallow. I've don't this hundreds of times but the fall always makes me scared. I jumped off and realized I couldn't hold on very well because of my blisters from earlier and I had to let go early. It wasshallow alright and my right ankle twisted and I hoped it wasn't broken!!! I hopped to the bank and thanked the guys for their help and they smiled and looked away. As I got to the bank a woman told me that my boob was hanging out the bottom of my top and I didn't even know! I was embarrassed but she said it was no big deal, it happens to everyone. I looked down and my foot was bleeding.... Crap! And I had a 40 min wall back to the hostel... Double crap!
I hobbled my way back and this time Kate could keep up with me lol:) I could move my ankle so I didn't think it was broken but it was really swollen so def sprained. We ce back to have beers with the owner who was German and the one other person staying there, an Irish guy who was hillarious. We thought pizza and beer sounded like a great idea and headed back down to the town. My ankle was killing me at this time so I hobbled and the wonder dog Roofus got in my way and tripped me and I twisted both ankles and the rocks tore into my good foot and this def brought screams and tears to my eyes. Kate was so sweet in supporting me all the way down the hill and I joked that I bet she was excited for me to go back to the city and when she didn't say anything I took that as confirmation. It was true I had been out of my element and was accident prone and I knew it was time to go before I hurt myself any more. We got alcohol for my foot had the beat pizzas talked about Isreal as Kate is Jewish and the Irish guy brought it up and they did not agree on a lot so I at back and listened lol. Then we found a guy to take me up the hill on his motor bike as I could barely walk at all at this point. Once again the people in Columbia and Minca in particular are the nicest I have ever met!!!
The trip back to Santa Marta to come...