Santa Marta, Santa Marta (Distrito Turístico Cultural E Histórico), Colombia
Hostels.... They are a peculiar world with infinite possibilities! When I came back to la brisa loca I was exhausted and just wanted to catch up on email and sleep but when you enter the hostel world and they give you a free beer to make it easier to meet people there is something exhilerating and exciting about meeting random people having the normal conversation as to who you are, why you are traveling, for how long, what you recommend etc. And possibly making a life long friend out of that random person. I'd be lying if I were to say that it's not intimidating at times sticking your hand out and saying, "hi, my name is Makai, what's yours"? and hoping they say something in return and not brush you off.... I think it's getting the guts to say something to someone in the first place. Alcohol seems to be a great introduction:)
People who stay in a hostel 1 month or longer can work at the hostel for less expensive rent or for a free place to stay depending on where you are. I recognized the bartenders from the last time I was there an reintroduced myself as well as started conversations with several other people. I saw the two girls from Holland again and they had just finished a 4 day treck into the mountains to see the lost city... I was done with mountains for the time being as my ankle was still hurting but it was great to hear about there trip. This time around Santa Marta was unbearably hot so we spent the night talking on the roof top terrace with the breeze and the bats flying around us gobbling up the mosquitoes.... Oh how I love bats:)
The next morning I decided I needed to catch up on my journal as you all can probably tell, I am easily distracted by what I'm doing and forget to write things down. Now the last time I was at Juan Valdez cafe it was pleasant.... This time I was sweating balls!!! Still I sat and wrote for hours and ignored the stares I usually get... I discovered that Colombia is not yet used to foreigners, it's a relatively new concept to them so they tend to stare at people who are "extranjeros" until you smile back at them or say, "buenas" and then thy smile back and go on about their business. The smiles here are wonderful... It doesn't seem to matter if they have money or not, people here are just happy people and you can see it in their eyes when they smile!
As I wrote I heard someone ask me a question in English which I had not expected. I looked up to see a girl about my age with blondish red hair ask if I spoke english and whether or not I was staying around here. Her name is Anthea and she is from Vancouver Canada. I told her about la brisa loca and even walked her over there and I learned that she was just in town for the weekend and had been working at an NGO in the middle of the jungle and where the FARC was... In other words she was working and living in probably one of he most dangerous places in Colombia! Her Spanish was excellent and I told her to join us at the hostel but that I had to go meet my Colombian family to see the Simon Bolivar place an would be back later that night. It was trivia night in the bar and shed be able to meet a lot of people that way.
I headed out to meet Melissa, Genith's niece and I took a bus for the first time and on my own. Taking a bus for the first time anywhere is always a bit nerve racking as you are never 100% sure you which bus you are supposed to get on, what the norms are for getting the bus to stop and where to get off when you aren't familiar with a new place. Several buses went by as I tried to figure out which bus was the right bus to take and finally I saw the words I was looking for and jumped on. I asked if they went to simon Bolivar's place and they said yes. The woman at the desk had told me it's about a 20/30 min ride so I didn't panic. After about 20 min I wondered how the hell I was supposed to know where to get of and how I tell the driver I want to get off. In SF you pull a cord, here I asked a school girl and she right here and then I because I didn't know the words to say to get the bus to stop a guy in front of me shouted something and the bus stopped. While I was on the bus I started to see aura's.... Squiggly lines in my vision that alerts me I'm going to have a migraine any minute and of course I left my medicine at the hostel. I figured I might be able to get a half hour or hour of freedom before he migraine cripples me. It must have been the crazy heat!
Melissa met me and we went to get water first as he too was extremely hot. She showed me around the grounds and it was amazing to see this ancient wood furniture out in the open for people to touch and insects to get too, but she explained the wood was well taken care of. I would have loved to own some of those pieces! Simon Bolivar is a hero here in Columbia as well a much of South America as he liberated many countries from the Spaniards. I made it to the beautiful statue of Bolivar where at one angle he looks young and fierce and the other angle he looks old and his hair is reseeding. All of the sudden I was nauseous and I knew my time was up. If I didn't get my migraine medicine soon I'd be crawling on the floor in agony. I explained this to Melissa and she immediately took me back to the hostel and into bed. The medicine helped but the heat had really affected me. I apologized and told her to please tell Genith I'm sorry I won't be able to see her today. She said not to worry and to call when I was better. Next thing I knew Genith, Maria Laura and John from down stairs were over my bed asking if I was ok and Genith was scolding me for not coming to her house. I was so delirious I just apologized and went back to sleep.
It was trivia night when I woke up and I called Genith again and apologized but opted out of drinking and partying that night and decided to make new friends with my bunkmates. When you stay in dorms all the time and people come and go it's quite easy to start up conversations with the people sleeping next to you.
I woke up early the next morning and decided that nothing else could go wrong so it was time to go celebrate and enjoy the weekend:) it was Kate's last day in south america so we decided to spend it at the beach. Kate, Anthea and I went to the only good beach around: playa roradero about 20 min from where we were. It was beautiful, sunny, crowded and make sure you go in the morning as the wind picks up in the afternoon and its like a million pieces of sand being shot at you every couple of minutes lol. The bus ride cost about .50 cents and on our way back we had beers on the bus... Less laws are so much more fun:)
Anthea and Kate had become friends with two other girls Katherine and Cynthia the night before (two girls from California who were planning on being English teachers in Santa Marta for the next year). A new girl showed up in my dorm room, Maritza, a teacher from New York city who had spunk in her and I immediately became friends with her. The four of us decided to celebrate Kate's last night in style so we got dressed up and headed to la brisa Loca's newest restaurant, Ouzo... Good mediterranean food or should I say Italian;) Ryan gave us some sample drinks to help us celebrate and we headed back to la brisa loca for happy hour and then out for the night. At the hostel, we met two girls from Bogota and their friend from Italy and they all suggested we go out together. I swear hostels make it so easy to meet people and go out!!! Anthea had to meet some friends at Mirador in Taganga and no one wanted to go but we all decided to go for a bit then head over to a roof top party in roradero later.
We piled into two taxis put the windows down and held on for dear life as we rounded corners at high speed and the wind tossled our hair. We arrived at the edge of a cliff only to walk down a flight of stairs that opened onto a rustic terrace with a bar and a dance floor. The floor was dirt, the bar looked like old pieces of wood from sailboats put together and then the terrace was half dirt and half concrete with stones and tiles and there was no roof just a tree on the side of the cliff and open air. The view of Taganga bay was wonderful, I just wish I had been able to see it during the day. It is customary in Colombia to get a bottle of liquor and something to go with it and share. Mixed drinks don't really seem to exist around here. The beers are okay but not amazing in Colombia. Salsa is the music of his area and since Shakira is from Baranquilla they play a lot of her music. The girls from Bogota were so nice and patient with me as they taught me how to dance to salsa music or just do the salsa to any music. We started to get tired and decided to head back but as we left we saw Ryan and Evan the owners of la brisa loca, out celebrating their friend John's 30th birthday. I decided to stick around and try to get to know the group better as they seemed like a wonderful group of guys. As the bar closed we were all ushered down this dirt road to an after party. As I looked around I was amazed that we were safe jut everyone seemed to be happy and not a danger in sight. We came to an Israeli hostel where the party inside was even bigger than the party at the club. I learned that in Israel every person, woman or man, must serve a minimum of two years in the military at the age of 18. After that they all seem to go traveling around the world to release all that stress and many come to Colombia. It seemed a bit out of place seeing Israeli writing in a Spanish country but everyone was very hospitable. I later found out that we in probably the most dangerous area of Taganga but of course I was completely oblivious lol:)
It was by far one o the best nights yet and was completely irresponsible, but well worth the danger:) I had also made some life long friends for sure.