We arrived in Santa Marta via MarSol bus service. A door to door bus system that works great, depending of course on who you’re sitting next to (see First Bus Ride).
We had got the recommendation to stay at The Dreamer Hostel from a Colombian girl we met in Bogota. The name of the hostel is more than just a cleaver marketing ploy. The hostel itself is wrapped around an open courtyard with a pool as its center piece. An outdoor kitchen is nestled next to the pool table and a bar. The Dreamer even has its own restaurant that serves up three meals a day, to include an $8 filet mignon! The rooms are named after countries and we both chuckled as they took us to the Australia room. We unpacked and planned what we were going to do with our time in Santa Marta.
The second day we made our way to Rodadero. A long strip of beach that many of the locals visit. Nothing against Rodadero, it’s certainly better than chilling in the park on a hot day in Seattle. But after visiting San Andres our standards were set pretty high. It’s about a 45 minute bus ride away which we caught from just outside our hostel. The bus system in Colombia is interesting to say the least. You can catch the bus from anywhere by waving your hand. To get off you only need to yell stop at the bus driver, a word we have yet to master. This combined with the fact we don’t know how to express where we want to go, guarantees an adventure whenever using public transport.
The hot bus ride there and the confusion as to where to get off cost us ten blocks of walking in the 90/34 degree heat. This put my Northwestern patience to the test. I broke down once we finally made it to the beach and we had to shell out $10 for two chairs and some cover. The price itself isn’t that bad, it’s the fact that every hustler on the beach now thinks you have money and they want their share. Necklaces, hats, snorkel trips, jet skis, beer, candy, and repeat. It takes about three times of explaining we have no money and don’t speak Spanish for them to let go of the hope you are going to buy something.
One lovely, heavy-set local with a gold tooth was convinced I needed a massage and no wasn’t an answer she was going to take. She reached out and started to rub my shoulder. I told her no for the fourth time as she oiled up her hand and quickly moved behind me. She oiled up my back and told me that this one is free, as she looked over my shoulder and gave me a smile with a wink. “I just want to show you. Make you feel good. Tomorrow you can get a full massage.” My explanation of being broke and not planning to return was falling on deaf ears. The more I said no, the more she rubbed. I finally did a dip and spin move and told her that was nice and I will be looking for her tomorrow. From the smile on her face I wasn’t sure if she was trying to convince me to buy or if she just wanted to cop a feel.
After a chill day at the hostel we tried to let Santa Marta redeem its beach reputation. We went into Tayrona National Park and visited the “best beach in the area”, Bahia Concha. It was a very nice, very chill bay and full of locals, however, I think it would have been more enjoyable if we didn’t have to battle the wind for most of the day. It came in waves about every five minutes. Small blasts that would raise your towel and slap sand on your sweaty body. You would convince yourself that it wasn’t that bad while shielding your face. Then you would get the monster gust that would leave little welts on any exposed skin, forcing you to leap from your prone position. It would die down just long enough to cause your sweat and confidence to build back up. All in all, it was a great day and a fun way to spend our anniversary. Later that night we headed down to the bay in Santa Marta and treated ourselves to a good meal.
Next stop, the other side of Tayrona National Park. Sally has convinced me to hike and camp in the same trip!