Wednesday, 27 April 2011

'Pon the Caribbean Coast: Santa Marta

DISCLAIMER: The following blog post is VERY long given the fact that I experienced a lot during my time 'pon the Caribbean coast. If you wish you can turn away right now however, if you choose to continue you will most likely be entertained. Enjoy!
To the north of Colombia, surrounded by the Santa Marta Mountains and touched by the Caribbean Sea lies the coastal city of Santa Marta. It was the first city we visited on the tour, and I was very excited about being one of the thousands of people that visited Santa Marta during Holy Week. This is what happened! 
It was April 20th, 2011, the time was after 10 in the morning, and after 18 hours on a bus, I was tired and in dire need of a shower or two. One could well imagine how my balls rejoiced when the tour guide announced that we were in Santa Marta and I looked out the window to see the sparkling ocean under the warm, Caribbean sun. A broad grin spread across my face as I savoured the moment and thanked God for this opportunity. My moment of inner peace was disturbed as the bus came to a halt and a police officer entered, asking all the men to exit the bus. 
In Colombia, police officers tend to stop you at random and ask for your identification, so as to verify whether or not you served in the military, an obligation for all men in Colombia unless of course, you have a military card or attended a military academy. I was annoyed about having to come off the bus, and then I felt the sun. 
Before I left, Maritza being the loveable, caring person that she is, told me that I should buy sun block because the sun is VERY hot on the coast. I don’t really care for Maritza and am accustomed to the sun, so I brushed off her advice. Maybe, I should have listened because that sun was NOT NORMAL. There was no shade and no clouds; I felt as though I was an ant burning under a magnifying glass held by a wicked, little boy. I was sweating profusely from simply standing in the sun.
Eventually, all the men returned to the bus and we were on our way to the hostel, Hotel San Andre. I must admit that it wasn’t anything fancy, but it was comfortable and I had all that I needed for a four day visit. I had little time to enjoy my room because I had less than 30 minutes to bathe and get ready before we went to the beach.
The funny thing is that although I live in Bogotá, I had about seven short pants in my drawer which meant that I was very much equipped for a day. or better yet, days at the beach. My white V- neck, blue and white beach shorts, and slippers were my outfit of choice on that day. Our transportation to the beach was a chiva rumbera, which is traditionally used to transport agricultural produce and people in the rural parts of Colombia, but it can also be used as a party bus.
While on the chiva, I got an up close and personal view of the Santa Marta Mountains. I could have sworn that I was in an old, Western movie because they were arid and full of cacti, dead trees and other desert-like shrubs. It was so weird that we were still in Colombia, but the landscape had changed so much in the 24 hours that we had travelled.
Finally, after driving for what seemed like 15 minutes we arrived at El Rodadero, one of the most important, tourist destinations in Santa Marta, and by extension, Colombia. My first thought was, "Whey, look at people!” And there were all types: short, tall, white, black, mixed, coca-cola bottle shaped, out of shape etc. etc. Towering hotels could be seen over the horizon, which explained why there were so many tourists waiting for the lancha/ fishing boat to take them over to Playa Blanca.
Our lancha eventually came, so we climbed on, found our seats, put on our life vests, and were on our way. I thought that I would have been terrified of being on such a small boat, knowing that the Titanic sank to the bottom of the ocean. However, as soon as the engine started and the boat sped across the water, splashing salt water all over my glasses, a HUGE grin spread across my face, yet again, and I was tempted to stretch out my arms while saying, "I'm flying Jack!"
For an exclusive beach destination in Santa Marta, there were A LOT of people at Playa Blanca. The white, sandy beach and stylish, red, cloth tents greeted me as I jumped off the lancha with a profound splash. I took in Playa Blanca, but I couldn't really enjoy it because I was starving. Persons from our tour were seated, which meant that our lunch would be on its way very soon. One hour later, there was no lunch. My belly felt hollow, my lips were white, and hunger could be read all over my face. Every time someone got served, I would steups four or five times as I felt my ignorant nature start to come to the surface.
Thankfully, after an hour and a half, I got my food and everyone on the beach must have been counting themselves lucky because I was this close *puts thumb and index finger together* to throwing a Spanish bitch fit. The food was alright, but I expected it to be orgasmic after waiting SO long to be fed. Sigh!
Once I was finished digesting and sightseeing, I decided it was time to unveil my beach bod and head to the water. The water was cold at first but once I dived- well, dropped myself- into the water more than three times, I became accustomed. My friends and I frolicked in the water, enjoying our chance to thaw off after being in cold temperatures for more than two months. Photos were taken, jokes were told, water was splashed and before I knew it, it was time to go. As the lancha turned around the mountain, heading back to El Rodadero, I turned around and bade Playa Blanca goodbye.
Later on that night, being young, fabulous and having just eaten dinner, my friends and I decided to explore the nightlife in Santa Marta. There wasn't like a big club, but what they did have was just as nice. It was like a square with about five bars. You could sit under the stars, sip on your beer and socialise. We found one that was inspired by Bob Marley, aptly called Marley Bar, and being Caribbean with a beautiful Jamaican in tow, it was an appropriate place to pass some hours. We drank, talked, laughed, danced and yours truly, even knocked over his drink twice.
Although we had to get up really early the following, I didn't want the night to end so after we dropped off the girls at the hostel, my friend and I decided to go to a club. Sadly, it was all techno, which, after a while, becomes loud, repetitive and makes your eyes hurt from all the ridiculous, flashing lights.
I settled into my hostel room to catch some shut-eye two hours before I was supposed to get up. I'm young. I would bounce back easily.
Up next, La Guajíra!