Arriving in Santa Marta we had made a super choice with our hostel called The Dreamer and it was booked out with young travelers on backpacking trips and was a super social spot. Complete with a beautiful pool it was perfect for the Santa Marta sunshine. We spent the day in a hammock by the pool catching up on some lost sleep from the night before, utilizing the WiFi to plan the days ahead and enjoying some beers!
We decided to take a taxi into the city for dinner that evening and watch the sunset by the beach. Spanish phrase book, map, and an understanding of how much money and how long the trip should take had us correctly set up one would think. However alarm bells starting going off when the sun was nearly set and Gavin checked our location to notice we were a moving dot heading in the complete wrong direction, away from Santa Marta, away from the beach, and no sunset for Niamh! Lesson of the day: always always download offline maps!!! This has been our saving grace. Anyways with limited Spanish and lots of pointing the driver looked pretty annoyed to realize we were not where we wanted to be, so off we went back in the correct direction…until he dropped us straight back to the hostel, hands in the air and lots of Spanish grunts. We’ll take positives where we can though, he didn’t charge us anything but I was sad to miss a sunset and we were both super hungry after the ordeal!! We ate in the Hostel which was nothing to complain about – it was really good and a nice opportunity to have a few drinks with the other travelers there.
On Sunday morning we were awoken at 6am to the sound of chanting and singing right outside our window. Sure none other than Sunday mass…outdoors..in Spanish. At least music is universal though I was able to sing along!! We were starting to wonder if we were prone to mishaps though…
The early start wasn’t so bad as we caught a local bus to take us to Tayrona National Park, where we would trek for a few hours to reach some stunning beaches. The bus was an experience in itself, a bit like me packing my backpack before we left…a test to see how much can you really fit in?! We were standing in the doorway and there was people everywhere. It was about 40 minutes of pure amusement (and slight discomfort). About half way in there was a lot of shuffling and signals from the guy running the bus to crouch down, we followed suit for about five minutes and I was glad of some of the gym sessions before we left home as it was definitely testing my ability to see how long I could hold a squat. Once we were allowed stand again we noticed the signs for “policia” which encouraged some laughter from the pair of us. The driving is just crazy here!
Tayrona was a stunning setting. There are options to camp or rent hammocks on the beach but we opted just to do a day trip so there was no messing and we got straight into to the trek. It was leisurely enough with lots of travelers, many lizards and even a few monkeys to keep us entertained. We were teased with the sight of crystal water for a while before we reached it but we were eventually rewarded with white sand and clear water. Perfect spot for our picnic and debut to swimming in the Caribbean before making the trek back. It was a brilliant day and straight to sleep for an early start for destination #4 the next morning.