So we left Bogotá over a week ago ready to brave the hot sun of the Caribbean once again. We arrived at the airport rushing around to find a telly showing the Blues vs Wolves game. We had no joy but found out that the Blues had come back from one nil down to win 2-1 on the internet. Steve celebrated with a couple of early morning pints. We arrived in Santa Marta the jumped on a us to Tayrona National Park. On the bus we met a Chilean guy called Matthew. We chatted about our travels, respective countries and football. A nice guy who we spent a bit of time with over the next couple of days. After the 40 minute bus ride we arrived at a little village where we had lunch an bought overpriced supplies before entering the park. We has a 45 minute trek through the humid jungle before the beautiful beaches opened out before us.
In Tayrona we camped for two nights in San Juan del Cabo which was pretty crammed with people and had a kind of festival feel to it. It was lovely to hear the waves at night and see the stars again. The only downfall was listening to noisy Spanish speakers. And I think Steve heard some Yanks having a burping competition outside our tent one night. Nice. We spent a whole day on a pretty deserted beach swimming, reading, snorkeling and trying to bash open and eat the abundant coconuts from the trees. Heaven. We left the following day and made our way back to Santa Marta.
Santa Marta turned out to be a pretty cool place. I imagine it’s a totally dodgy place but we enjoyed our couple of days there walking a long the beach and eating an amazing fish soup for breakfast for only a couple of dollars. I also had the best ceviche of my life in a restaurant called Macchupicchu near to the hotel. It was perfect. Steve also demanded that we visited the statue of Carlos Valderrama outside the stadium which we did for 5 mins to take some pictures. Apparently this was very important!
We left Santa Marta on a luxury bus to Cartagena de Indias. After an hour and a half bus ride (thanks to the driver) we finally checked into a beautiful little hotel run by a family. The room was cosy and cool and we had a little pool to our self everyday. We spent 4 days wandering around the walled city eating the local ceviches and drinking as much fresh juice as possible. While I was there I had a dress tailor made for the two weddings coming up when we arrive in the UK. It turned out well and the seamstress Nubia was really chuffed to make a dress for a “gringo” to take home. Cartagena was especially beautiful just having read Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera. It was just how I imagined it whilst reading the book.
The trip home was not so pleasant however. We arrived at the airport at 4 in the afternoon hoping to make the earlier flight even though we were scheduled to fly at 22.10 that evening only to be told that we could have flown if we had arrived 10 minutes earlier. Bollocks. So we killed 6 hours strolling around town and came back at 21.30. The flight was delayed and we finally boarded just after midnight. When the plane revved up to take off we heard an alarm going off in the cockpit as we were in the first row. The engine stopped and the pilot tried again. Same alarm. The captain informed up of a light flashing on the dashboard an told us that we had to pull back and have the maintenance have a look at the plane. Now, us both being nervous flyers we started to panic a little. We sat on the plane for about another hour until we were told the flight would be aborted until tomorrow. I was kicking myself after missing that afternoon flight! Anyway, after much commotion we arrived at a $100 a night hotel just after 3am. We cleared the minibar and charged it to the airline. At midday the following day we finally took off in a different plane. I was on edge after the whole aborted take off and sweated the whole way. The landing was the most horrific experience of my life. The pilot for some reason or another had decided to turn almost 180 degrees AFTER putting the wheels down. I honestly thought we were going to land in the street on our side. I was shaking for about an hour after we left the airport. No more flying unless absolutely necessary.
Back in Bogotá now to finish our work. Next stop- Ecuador!