30th August to 2nd September
When I got back from the Lost City hike I checked back into the hostel I had moved to the day before going. No sooner had I walking into the dorm, I heard someone scream my name. Charnie, a Perth girl I had met in Bogota, had been staying in the 8 bed dorm alone for a few days and was super excited to finally have some company. She had travelled over a year in Europe and had met up with one of her best friends to do 4 months in South America, arriving on the same day as me. Unfortunately though, her friend had met a Russian girl at this hostel and decided that he couldn’t live without her so had ditched Charnie to travel with the Russian, 3 weeks into their 4 month planned trip. How rude. So I convinced her to come chill with me for a few days at the beach in Palomino. I felt that after the hike I was in much need of some relaxing beach time.
It was so nice to be able to sleep in a proper, clean bed but the air conditioning was so cold I still had to put socks on. Before leaving we went and took some cash out (we were pre-warned that there isn’t an ATM in the town) then took a taxi to the market place where the buses start from. Some people say the bus leaves every 20 mins, others say it leave when it’s full…remember how inconsistent people’s answers are? Anyways, we were one of the first on the bus so had the option of picking our seats. I chose the back row behind the back door so I could stick my feet out and not feel cramped. Made such a difference to the 2 hour journey!
The bus stops on the main road and you need to take a moto-taxi (aka a motorbike taxi, not a tuktuk) to the hostel. They dumped our massive backpacks on the front of the taxi and we sat behind the driver…not sure if they could still steer at first but we made it.
We stayed at the Tiki Hut hostel which is a super cute, relaxing place quite close to the beach. The staff don’t speak much English and the kitchen isn’t really for personal use, but overall a nice place to hang for a few days. We spent the rest of our first day there, chilling at the beach, walking back to the main road and eating the second worst pasta dish of my trip so far. How do you stuff up pasta?? Charnie had bought a 6 litre bottle of water and on the way back from the main road some random hippie girl stopped her to ask for some water. Charnie politely refused saying she didn’t share drinks with anyone and the girl suddenly got super aggressive and started swearing at us before stomping off. How would you even drink straight from a 6 litre bottle? It’s far to heavy to hold up and pour easily. Also, just to show you all, they also sell 6L water in a large packet format too…can’t even imagine how I would be able to pour that into something I could drink from.
In the morning we aimed to get up for a 8am yoga class, but when the alarm went off at 7.30, we promptly rolled over and ignored it. There was a massive storm a day before we arrived so there hadn’t been any internet until this morning. I think I’ve been quite lucky with the weather so far, I keep just missing the bad weather. Today was actually a super lazy day; went swimming in the pool, had a delicious chicken fajita and home made chips for lunch, rested in a hammock in the afternoon, walked along the beach at sunset, drank coconuts at the beach and had a yummy chocolate brownie for dessert. Great lazy day. Only issue I have with Palomino is that the beach isn’t nearly as nice as I had hoped. The sand isn’t nie and the water is murky grey and very strong so not awesome to swim in. And the beach had quite a few dead fish/birds on it. Maybe my expectations of beaches is too high from living in Sydney.
That night we met some Argentineans that Charnie had met previously and I convinced them to come play Tejo with us (the weird bocci game with dynamite I had played in San Gil). I said to one guy “lets go in 5 mins”. He immediately turned to the Italian girl next to him and translated into Spanish. Though in his translation he said “Let’s go in 10 mins”. Haha even a direct translation causes people here to always be late. About an hour or so later, we finally meandered out the door towards the Tejo place. The group of Argentineans walked so incredibly slowly. I could have hopped there faster. So by the time we got the place, it had just closed. Something to always have with you: a mini torch. Long dirt roads in beach areas are usually not lit, so thankfully I had one because other than a few phones, everyone was walking in the dark and following my light.
The next morning we managed to drag ourselves out of bed to attend the yoga class. It was super difficult. It was just us, one other girl that didn’t speak English, and the instructor. We didn’t do what I would consider ‘normal’ yoga, we had to do a whole bunch of poses that were uncomfortable and hurt. He would come around and tell us to keep pressing our body parts together harder: feet, toes, palms, and los dedos! (the fingers), always the fingers. He’d come past and check whether they were being pushed together hard enough by trying to lift/pull them apart. At one point I got yelled at for sighing and releasing a pose too quickly. Apparently you’re meant to do it s.l.o.w.l.y. The poses themselves seemed simple enough…until you tried to do them. I was very close to walking out on the class. As much as I try, yoga just doesn’t seem to be my thing.
After breakfast, Charnie, German (said Herman, an Argentinean I’d met on the trek) and I decided to go tubing. To get to the start point, we had to pick up our tubes, hold them on one shoulder and ride motorbikes along a dirt road. It always concerns we when the motorbike driver wears a helmet but the passenger doesn’t… I still have to close my eyes when I ride on a dirt road with lots of rock cos I always feel like we’ll slip and fall down the side of the road. A slightly irrational fear based on absolutely nothing. Turns out there’s a 20 mins up and down hill walk to get to the river from the bikes – I thought I was well and truly done with walking for a while. Awful.
The tubing went for about 2 hours, it’s a slow float down the river. Occasionally we found ourselves floating directly into the muddy banks and had to furiously kick to not end up caught up in the tree roots. An interesting thing about floating down a river for 2 hours, is that we got to see indigenous people going about their lives in the jungle, while also floating past industrial areas and under main road bridges. It was quite the contrast.
We were starving by the time we got back to the main beach area. German and I ordered the same food, which came out and we had finished eating before Charnie’s arrived. Apparently they had had an “issue” with her pizza order. I think they just forgot to make it. How does that even happen?
It took me until the last morning to realise I could just order the parts of the breakfast that I wanted and not have to suffer through eating eats which I don’t particularly like. Bonus is that having toast and fruit rather than toast, fruit and eggs, cost me 3 thousand instead of 8 thousand! Eggs definitely don’t cost that much.
Something I noticed on the bus back to Santa Marta was that the conductor is basically responsible for getting anything on the bus that isn’t able to get on itself. Example: A lady gets on with hr small child; rather than guiding the child up the stairs first, she just gets on and walks down the aisle, leaving the conductor to pick up the kid and place it on the bus, as tho the kid was just another bag. The lady doesn’t even look behind her to check on her child.
It was 2.25pm when we were buying our bus tickets to Cartagena so decided against getting the 2.30 bus and opted for the 3.30 bus so we would have time to eat. We looked at our tickets and saw they said 2.30 still and only when we questioned it did the lady inform as we were catching the 2.30 bus that has been delayed. The 3 of us went for lunch as one of the many questionable eateries in the bus terminal. Not sure where all the time went because suddenly when the food arrived we had exactly 7 minuets to gobble it all up.
We ran to the bus stop and found out our bus had already left and we had to go back to the ticket office to change our tickets or buy new ones. How embarrassing/funny that we missed our bus cos we were too busy pigging out. Though, thinking back, if the bus was delayed, who’s to say it came at exactly 3.30? It could have arrived at any time within that hour. Didn’t think of that before. The same lady as before changed our tickets, but instead of issuing brand new tickets, she just scribbled the bus number on my old ticket and took away our secondary piece of paper. This made things a little complicated when we tried boarding the bus with wrong tickets. Also, to put ur bag in the trunk of the bus, they put a tag on the bag and put a corresponding sticker on your second ticket (which we didn’t have). Again, became a problem when trying to retrieve our bags at the other end when we had lost the 2cm wide little sticker that said those bags were ours.
When we first boarded the bus, and then again at the only other major stop, the driver came through the bus with a camera and filmed everyone’s faces. This has happened a few times to me before but Charnie didn’t know about it so she pulled a face at the camera. I’m not entirely sure why they do it but my current reasoning is that in case the bus gets hijacked/we get kidnapped, they have a record of who to look for. So if we went missing, the last images they would have had of Charnie was her sticking her tongue out – what a great picture to broadcast on the nightly news channels.
We were told the bus would take 4 hours; it took 6. I’m instating a blanket rule: whatever time anyone tells you, add another 3rd to it to get the actual time taken. At one of the stops we decided to try buying those strange snack foods people come on to the bus to sell. Never again. They are disgusting. There was a super cute little girl in the seat in front of me that was standing up looking at me during the ride so I gave her one of the snacks. Charnie did the same with one of her snacks. At no point did the girl’s mother turn around and thanks or even ask us what we were feeding her. It was very amusing to watch…the girl didn’t seem to like the snacks either.
We arrived in Cartagena around 10pm that night. The taxi driver that took us to the hostel 1. Had to get directions from the other taxi drivers because he didn’t know where to go and 2. Tried to go out an exit of the bus terminal that was already closed. Seriously, how did he not know that? If you’re waiting around a terminal to pick up passengers, surely at the very least you should know how to get out of the terminal??
And that sums up my 3 days in Palomino.