02 to 14 January 2011
So after some time exploring Colombia’s hills and highlands it was time to head to its fabled Caribbean coast for some sun, sea and sand. Due to landslides caused by severe flooding early in December many roads were blocked or destroyed. Luckily, to avoid back-tracking, we managed to get a cheap flight to take us from Bucaramanga to Santa Marta on the coast. We spent some time in and around that area – along with what felt like half of Colombia! It was still Christmas holiday time so everywhere was pretty busy, feeling little like a desert island hideaway. In one respect though it is always interesting to observe locals at play. We have concluded that Colombian’s behalf a lot like some Brits on holiday – drinking beer by 10am, on the spirits by midday, getting burnt on the beach and burying each other in sand. Where is the fun in being buried in sand?!  In the evenings there was blaring, groovy Colombian music and plenty more cold beer and cocktails, including “Coco Loco” – loads of rum poured into a fresh coconut.

We also spend some time on Playa Blanca on Isla de Baru, a much nicer beach with whiter sand and clearer water. But still lots of Colombians. The good thing is they all seem to like to occupy the same few square metres of beach so you only need to walk 10 minutes or so along the beach for some peace and quiet. It’s also a popular day trip so before midday and after 4pm things were pretty calm. Facilities on the island are pretty basic and for the few days we were there slept in a little tent right on the beach and ate fish and rice for dinner. Sounds pretty idyllic huh? Well it was, except for the incessant sand flies which have left us with bites that itch like crazy, a sore back from sleeping on the sand at night (and during the day) and the lack of a proper toilet and no shower so not being able to wash properly. OK, so the sea water keeps you clean but a gals gotta wash her hair once in a while. It was good for a few days though but nice to get back to the real world and get the sand out of the crevices!

Playa Blanca Isla de Baru Colombia 7Playa Blanca Isla de Baru

Playa Blanca Isla de Baru ColombiaPlaya Blanca Isla de Baru

Playa Blanca Isla de Baru ColombiaPlaya Blanca Isla de Baru

So, last stop in Colombia and last stop in South America this time around, we’re now in Cartagena, or Cartagena de Indias to give it its proper name. We probably couldn’t have asked for a more attractive place to end our South American travels as it could possibly be the most picturesque, colonial city on the continent. It’s also the most touristy place we’ve visited in Colombia; I suppose because they have been receiving visitors for longer than the rest of the country as it was generally considered safe here at a time when other places here weren’t.  They also get big cruise ships stopping here. However that still doesn’t detract from the experience which has also been enhanced by the lovely colonial hotel we’re staying in.  Aahh, we’re going to miss Colombia. As the tourist board strap line states …. “The only risk is wanting to stay”.

Cartagena ColombiaCartagena Colombia

Cartagena ColombiaCartagena Colombia

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