My border crossings were thankfully without drama and so this post is more for informative use rather than jovial entertainment. Although, as ever, feel free to be entertained.
It was 10pm amd crowds of people were clustered everywhere – drunk singing, climbing on car roofs, honking horns and shouting at the confused collection of gringos. It felt crazy. The policeman looked at me aghast, “We’ll take you in the police van” he said in Spanish, “you can’t stay here”.
An easy bus from Medellin, Salento was our first arrival at night as we missed the earlier bus…fortunately, there couldn’t be a better place for it. Our journey was almost a private coach hire experience, sharing our oranges with the driver and watching Netflix with no one else on board, we pulled into Salento’s cobbled square. A few blocks in and a local had given us more directions to our hostel just four blocks away. I loved this place already.
“Why do the directions take us through a pitch black building site! Oh my God, dogs coming at us, s@!t!…We should be close though… Oh no, maps.me just jumped, we’re nowhere near, I’m so confused…” exasperated, I look at Reid, barely making out the whites of his eyes in the dark. I trip over some rubble. “ARgh, lets just give up!”
Expectations were high for my next city stop but regardless I couldn’t have been more delighted to disembark from the sea-sick inducing 10 hour bus through the mountains from Bogotá. If you can fly this cheap, short distance, do it! My arrival was also rather momentous as I had what now felt like a long lost friend waiting for me at the terminal, ready to help me navigate Medellin’s streets and lug my overweight bag around town. 😊
With trepidation, I headed to Bogotá. Not only was the temperature going to plummet but having left Reid behind, I was going to have to make new friends.
A day’s rest in Santa Marta (thank you Santa Marta) and we were off to the neighbouring town of Minca. A slightly less trodden path, no doubt about to be overwhelmed by the increasing tourist flow, Minca retains the authenticity, charm and familiarity that for me, Cartagena lacked.
The four of us worked through the remaining list of tourist destinations in Cartagena, hitting the local market Bazurato, el Convento de Popa (highest point in the city) and Bocagrande. Our taxi driver was a legend, taking us to all these places at a fifth of the guide book price before dropping us at the overrated Bocagrande – a true tourist destination, full of ugly high-rises and a large, crowded beach. The highlight of the whole day was realising a 6ft6 pale Irish man provides the perfect distraction for the usual local attention a gringa can experience. ☺️
An archipelago, 100km off the coast from Cartagena, The Rosario Islands are one of Colombia’s 46 Natural National Parks. We were heading to the largest, Isla Grande, and it was amazing to finally get on the water after the unwavering humidity almost dripping off the walls of the old city…