I've Got...Two Tickets to Paradise! (Cue Music)

Trip Start Apr 07, 2013
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Trip End Apr 21, 2013


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Flag of Colombia  , Magdalena,
Wednesday, April 10, 2013

We both knew full well that the bus to Santa Marta would not be on time. But what if, just this once, it was? What if we finally succumbed to that casual coolness towards time and deadlines so engrained in South American life only to find that our bus came on time, left without us, and our vacation was ruined, scarring our Colombian memories for all time? At five minutes to nine we were on the street corner, sucking up car fumes and dripping in sweat. Guess what? The bus was forty minutes late. Anyhoo...

The shuttle was actually pretty nice. Brittany and I are about six inches too tall for any bus or restaurant seat in the country, but we've gotten used to that and the four hour journey went by quickly. About half way through the trip our bus (and three others) pulled off the side of the road at a tiny snack stand. Basically, the drivers bring big groups of gringos to the stand to buy stuff in exchange for free chips and Cokes. Not a bad gig for them. Unfortunately for me, I had to pee and there were about 20 other people with the same idea, all waiting to use the one lonely bathroom. Plus I discovered that everyone using the dusty, cleaned once yearly toilet was being charged for the privilege. I saw a wall about twenty feet behind the stall and made good use of it. If it's free it's for me! Brittany was not impressed.

Our shuttle driver dropped us off at the steps of our hostel and there was a man waiting for us with room key in hand. The place we're staying is called Aluna Hostel. It's about $12 cheaper than Mamallena and much, much nicer. No hippies! It feels more like a hotel than a hostel. Still no hot water (we knew that was a pipe dream) but on the plus side we have a fan that spins so fast I think it could be used as a prop on a plane.

By three o'clock all we'd eaten was a bag of Doritos, so we walked out in search of some good food. We found it! We ate at a fantastic little restaurant called Lulo. We had fresh fruit juices and arepas. But these weren't just any old arepas, these little suckers were "gourmet". Also they were huge. Street stall arepas are just small fried cakes covered in butter. Good by any measure, but get them at Lulo and they come piled high with all sorts of toppings. I got one with tomatoes, chorizo, avocado, beans and sweet plantains. Man it was good. Before those came out we had a bowl of tomato soup. The soup thing is a little confusing here. Basically every time you eat in a restaurant they give you soup. It isn't on the menu and you don't get charged for it. Obviously I'm all for bonus food but apparently a lot of people say they don't want the free soup because it's so hot outside (chumps). Before bringing it our servers invariably ask us if we want the soup or not, and we have absolutely no idea what they're saying because it's different every time. Three servers had to get involved today as they repeatedly asked a question (with different wording each time) and we repeatedly looked back at them with faces of utter stupidity and lack of comprehension. Finally, one server said "Soup. Free." I responded "yes" and we were good to go. Things get complicated when you have absolutely no means of communicating. I can definitely see why that whole Tower of Babel thing didn't work out...

Santa Marta itself is pretty dirty and there isn't all that much to see. The white cathedral was pretty from the outside, but after about ten minutes we had seen everything worth seeing of their "historical district".

We cleaned up back at the hostel and washed some clothes in the sink; walking around for hours on end in 90 degree weather can make a human being smell like rotten cabbage (or so Brittany tells me). We're hoping our F16 turbo fan will have them dried out before tomorrow. One last stop at the local Exito super market to buy some jugs of water and we're all set for the next five days. We picked up some sunscreen too. I packed a 3 oz bottle for the both of us, thinking that would be plenty. Brittany sucked down half the bottle in one use. Holy guacamole this stuff is expensive here! We got the cheapest bottle we could find and it was about $14. Lesson learned for the next trip: have Brittany pack her own dang sunscreen :)

We'll be hiking four to six hours every day over the next week, crossing rivers, scaling waterfalls, meeting indigenous tribes, and finally arriving at the ruins of an ancient city older than Machu Picchu. This should be a once in a lifetime experience and I've got very high hopes. Our bus is supposed to be here at 9am. Maybe we should sleep in?

P.S.
I will not have Internet access over the next five days but I will keep up with the blog offline. As soon as I get back in WiFi range I'll update the entries and photos.
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Comments

Gail................. on

Hey guys. This was very exciting ! Thanks for all the entries. Loved it.. Have a great and safe trip................

Grandpa on

Hi Guys...Everything sounds exciting.... in fact Dubbi had a tear in her eye as Grandma read your entries to her....She also said she prefers Florida rather than Columbia....love ya like crazy, Gran'pa...

Jill on

Can't wait till your journey in the jungle ends....shiiverrr......

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