__Luckily this am the sun was out again and we could dry our laundry. We decided not to return to Taganga now - even if we left most of our stuff under Pibe's sink there- but to continue traveling east to Guajira, a deserted fascinating region, land of the Wayuu indians. After breakfast we walked back to the park entrance 40min+ 10min minivan $1. On the main road there's plenty of public buses and we take one to Palomino, 45min, $2. Once there we have to walk to the beach for 15min thru the fields.
Palomino is a beautiful long beach perfect for chilling out: we enjoyed the great camarones all'aijo- garlic shrimps- $8, read a book on a hammock, chatted with other travelers, swam and looked at the waves. Finca Escondida: recommended. After lunch we walked back to the main road and catched another bus to Riohacha, 2hrs, $6, where a taxi took us to Hotel Colonial, $22 for a room w bath. It's a good price here, apparently most of the hotels ask for double that price at least. Since our big backpack and most of our stuff is under Pibe's sink back in Tayrona, we need to go shopping to the mercado: everybody there say " a la orden"... I can't stand it! Anyway with our new hat, flip flops, and t-shirts, now we are ready for the desert in Cabo! Dinner and early bed. Exhausted.
_It was quite cold and humid to sleep on the hammock in front of a rough ocean tonight. I loved my yoga towel that became a warm blanket for the occasion. We could sleep only few hours, at some point it was raining, we couldn't move without waking each other up, I had weird dreams all night of people arresting us but still it was a great experience! In the am is not very sunny, we go for breakfast at Cabo Hostel, pick up our packs stored there, and we are ready to go back to Don Pedro Hostel. Due to the lack of sleep, we stopped at every beach for a little siesta. The nature here is gorgeous: huge roundish rocks are all around, the water is pristine blu but unfortunately there's not much sun today.
At Don Pedro we get a double tent for $14, we take a nice cold shower and wash all our dirty salty cloths hoping they'll dry by tomorrow am. Dinner and early sleep. Exhausted.
_At 7 am we took a mini van to Tayrona, organized by an agency, $10 each way. This way we saved time and got there earlier, also skipping the first 45min hike. There was going to be a lot to hike there anyway. Park entrance fee is $20. In Tayrona there are several beaches and jungle trails, you can walk or ride a horse. We walked all the way thru jungle and from beach to beach: 45 min to Don Pedro Hostel + 15min to the long Arecife beach where it's not advisable to swim because of currents and rough sea, + 30min to Las Piscinas & Arenita beaches where you can snorkel in nice turquoise calmer water, + 45min to Cabo San Juan where there are beautiful rock formations, swimming is allowed and there's a Hostel, + more deserted beaches 15-30min walk away, including a nudist beach. The prices are quite high here: $7 for just a hammock at Don Pedro - the cheapest- and $15 at Cabo San Juan. Very basic, not much care, cleanliness or taste anywhere. There are also luxury options at Canaveral beach but not allowed by my current budget. We walked all the way to Cabo and further, for about 3hrs, and we decided to be very adventurous and sleep in a gorgeous desert beach on our double hammock... the alternative was to sleep still on a hammock but next to other 20 people! After dinner at the Cabo camping restaurant, we walked back along the beach and in the jungle to our hammock spot for 15min in pitch dark but we had our head lights and brave hearts! We also make a fire, nice.
_Finally I could dive today! I had no problem equalizing and the master assigned to me was very good at respecting my slow pace while descending. I would definitely recommend Vida De Mar Diving Center.
I saw several big lobsters, purple and yellow, murray eals, a lion fish, and many other more common ones. Compared to Utila in Honduras and Belize it's less spectacular but still pretty good. $70 for two dives, new equipment, diving computer and a snack in between.
Relaxing pm and early bed: tomorrow we are going to the Tayrona National Park early.
Breakfast at our place: eggs and arepa (corn pie), $3.Then I go hiking to few beaches across the hills next to town, nice swim and views. At 2pm we go snorkeling joining a group of divers from Vida de Mar. I'll dive with them tomorrow, I have a good feeling: the owner recommended me some antistaminics to clear my sinuses and hopefully this time I'll be able to equalize. Snorkeling is nice, we see a lot of coral and small nice fishes, but nothing extraordinary. Yoga at sunset in front of the ocean.
Dinner at a fancy restaurant, Pachamanga, where we have a good meal and drinks before going dancing again at El Mirador, another club on several levels with spectacular view of the bay. I finally got my salsa fix with a very good dancer and I also have a lot of fun dancing with Robbert.
_Today we are moving on to Taganga, a fishermen village east of Cartagena, and we decided to go with public transport: bus to bus terminal $1, bus to Santa Marta w/ stop in Baranquilla $12, 4.5hrs. We played backgammon on my i-phone for the whole trip: loved it! In Santa Marta we jumped on a taxi to Taganga, $6, and once there we met immediately Pibe, who offers us a room with shared bath, '1 second to the beach' for $17. Deal. It's a private house open to tourists, around the corner from Hostal Pelican.
The town is very cute, developed and touristy but in an authentic way. A lot of Colombians also come here on holiday. We went straight to the beach, which was full of families, but for some reason I didn't mind as usual, there was a good vibe, a festive atmosphere. A lot of hippies selling their artifacts on the nice street next to the sea, where you can enjoy the view sitting in one of the kiosks that offer drinks and food. Aperetivo with the local beer Aguila and shrimp cocktail, little nap, and back out to explore Taga night life: we end up to Sensation, a club with a nice terrace on the beach and ok music. Finally some dancing.
_Today I joined an organized tour of Volcan Totumo, and I'm aware of the implications of my decision. $22, lunch incl. The bus picks us up at around 8.30am and we spend the next 1.5 hr to pick up people from all the possible hotels in town... I feel like giving up and go back to my comfy room...
Eventually we arrive at the vulcano, which is the smallest one I ever seen, probably not more than 30m. There is a stair that takes you to the top where instead of lava you find mud, which is supposed to be good for you somehow... The mud pool is about 5m diameter and it's full of muddy people floating and getting massages by the expert hands of these locals who spend their days in this mud hole, $1.5. Outside of it there are other locals who are holding the cameras of the dozens people inside and taking pictures of their muddiness, $1.5. Since I'm here I'm going to try anyway. The consistency is the one of a creme, it's pretty thick: you float, you can't touch the bottom and you can't sink in anyway. It's quite different. After the mud bath everybody go down the stair to get rinsed off by a lady in the lake 50m down. Other $1.5. Lunch w fried fish at a beach nearby, neither are that good.
Back to Getsemani I meet Robbert and we go out for a drink: what better place than the garden at Ciudad Movil? There I met one of the founders, Dina, she is Italian and explained to me that 8 artists of different fields started this no profit project this past December, with the goal of promoting local and international talents giving them a platform to perform and exhibit. They also want to start a yoga program: any teacher interested?
Hello everybody! I know a bunch of you are following my adventures and I would love to hear your voices and comments! Let me feel your presence!! : D
Big hug! Silvia
_At 8.30am we meet Nathalie and Gerald: they are taking us to visit their foundation that helps kids from very poor families in La Boquilla, which is basically a slum/ fishermen village in the outskirts of Cartagena. Robbert is writing an article on them. www.fundacionlavecina.com
They work with about 90 kids, mostly in primary school but they also help older ones with after school programs. Some of the kids are orphans, most are abused but I still saw big smiles on their faces at the foundation. Apparently violence and sexual abuse are very common in these poor areas. The foundation offers psychological support and mediation with the family and the community, which is now respecting them and slowly changing. They opened 5 years ago and now they have a nice clean environment, they offer regular primary school classes but also English and computer. They provide lunch for all the kids, some of which have no food back home. They have minimum overhead costs and they are able to run the foundation with only $120k per year. Donations to them are guaranteed to be well spent.
We went to visit the slum: the kids live in huts surrounded by trash and open air sewers, often there are floods... I leave the rest to your imagination. There's no trash collection here. According to statistics, Cartagena is the number one in the world for underage prostitution: to the point that baby girls sometimes are kept alive as an investment to support the family... It's horrible.
The interesting thing is that this slums are very close to high end resorts - the beach is nice here - and the local government instead of helping them is trying to kick them out of their 'homes' to build more luxury hotels...
We took a local bus back , we missed our stop and went all the way thru the mess of the city. Finally back in Getsemani, after a longed shower, we went out for dinner and found a great place: Ciudad Movil. It's a cultural center that offers art exhibitions, drinks, delicious pizza, and live performances. They promote local and international actors, musicians, and artists giving them a stage for their shows, indoor or in the nice back garden. Tonight there were several shows: mute comedians, colombian drummers and chilenian dancers. Really cool. Long life to the Cirque!
Walking around the center and by the popular touristy clubs I notice all this young girls with high hills and short skirts and they remind me of the sad stories from this morning.
_Am yoga. This time I picked a more secluded spot and it was great: the water was flat and calm, very peaceful. Ideal for a nice swim afterwards. We then went snorkeling by the rocks at the end of the beach, there are great little beaches there where nobody goes. Unfortunately by the time we had fins and snorkel on, the sea got pretty rough and the visibility went down to 1m max because of the sand moving: better going early am. Relaxing hammock time at our cabana waiting for our boat to take us back.
At 3pm the scenery is unbelievable: hundreds of people are trying to get on a half dozen boats, some of which are just small lanchas and the sea in rough... People of every age and size are trying to climb moving boats by the shore -see pict on the right- some fall in the water, some are pushed on by locals, some have only one leg in and are hanging from the boat trying to get on...really bad but it was also very funny to see! Luckily we picked a big boat and we didn't have those problems. The way back was really rough and the water got in even our boat, imagine the small ones.
Note.While I was getting on the boat my beloved hat flew away, I even dove in the water in front of all the passengers to rescue him but he already drowned in the current...Like in Titanic!
Back at Hotel Siboney, clean and cheap, $18. Indian dinner for a change, and to bed early exhausted.