I just dropped a load of Salsa

Trip Start Mar 01, 2012
Trip End Mar 24, 2012

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Where I stayed
Hostal de jackie

Flag of Colombia  ,
Sunday, March 18, 2012

Cartagena is a nice place, but the suggestions I have read on the Internet are right, two days in the city is plenty. Add a couple of days for the beach and it is time to move on. So I did. I caught an early bus to Santa Marta. A pretty easy 4 hour ride of unremarkable scenery. It was pretty crowded especially for an early Sunday morning. The seat next to me was taken up by a mother and her two young daughters.
As usual, I seemed to arrive at the ticket window just as the bus was about to leave. So the gate guy took me right on the bus without a ticket as I could pay the onboard conductor once we got on our way. It left the station with plenty of open seats but filled up as we drove around the city before heading on on way. Luckily the AC was working. Unluckily, the rush to board didn't give me the opportunity to grab breakfast do I was starving too.
There is a midway stop on this bus which is where most of my co-riders were going to get off the bus. In talking to other travelers, I learned that it is common to get charged a second time at these mud trip layovers as the staff changes and a new conductor comes through collecting fares. Since I bypassed the ticket window, I asked the on board conductor for a receipt that you paid full fare (or maybe it was a chicken sandwich). It doesn't matter because I got neither.
As we pulled into the midway point of Barranquilla, steadfastly stayed on the bus until the conductor directed me to come with him. He took me to a new bus and disappeared and I didn't have the receipt. The bus filled up and we were off. I braced myself for the dumb tourist surcharge as the new conductor came down the aisle. I relaxed when he walked by and didn't even look at me. Another two hours and I was standing standing in the hot and breezy Santa Marta bus station. I wasn't exactly sure what to do next since I knew next nothing about this town. How big it was, where people stayed and mire importantly where they didn't. There is no info booth that I could see and the food options were less than appetizing. I had the card for a hostel here and showed it to a taxi driver. No voucher system for the cabs here. It was short ride over to where he let me off on a quiet side street about 3 blocks from the beach. The hostel was fine. It must be coming up on end of season because I got a two bed dorm room with shower all to myself. The manager said there was little risk that I would get a roommate at thus point.
I checked in and headed to the beach. It was hit sunny and windy so it was a quick stroll along the promenade before I head for an air conditioned burger and beers at a nearby cafe.
The beach front was only a couple of blocks along a small bay with a full sized cargo ship anchored at one end. Not a great incentive for taking a dip in the ocean. I didn't stay long and walked the streets leading away from the beach, except for a tiny outdoor market, there wasn't much going on. I was getting baked by the sun and blasted by the wind so I only stayed out long enough to grab a cup of coffee before heading back to the hostel for to wait for sunset and dinner time.
On my way back, I noticed a happy hour sign at a wine bar that was not open yet.  I headed back a few hours later and found it to be quite nice with some pleasant background music at a volume that kept it in the background.  I had a couple of glasses of wine and headed out for dinner.  As I strolled around, I noticed that quite a few establishments had opened up since the sun went down.  All along the 4th ave and the oldest church in Colombia, they say.  It looked brand new to me and was in the process of holding its last chance Sunday mass.  It was packed to overflowing too.
My target was dinner and drinks though.  So I continued my search.  I checked menus and over all look and feel of about 20 bars and cafes along the street before I settled on a 2 for 1 mojito deal and a plate of ceviche. During my search, I realized that I was going to like this place.  Hot dusty and wind blown as it was, there was No Salsa.  Replaced by trance and electronic music and a bit of 80īs American pop.  There were definitely a couple of Salsa places but they werenīt blaring. I even bought a beer in one as a little reward and encouragement for their restraint. Alas as the night went on, the bars all along the street turned up the volume, Salsa included and a few more Salsa Bars opened up loudly. For that one short period of time, though I was Salsa Free. 
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