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Had to start heading south today. Only have a few days before I need to be in Quito, Ecuador. First were the flat Colombia low lands. Hot and humid. Had to keep moving to prevent myself from melting away.

Toward the end of the day, I started gaining in elevation. Cooler and dryer. What a relief.

As usual Ruby gets all the attention:

Went looking for a place to stay for the night and found another trucker hotel. Not much of a room, but super cheap.

That night I joined some truckers for dinner and drinks. They couldn’t speak English and my Spanish is close to non-existent. Nevertheless we had a long conversation that lasted late in to the night. Spanish keywords and a lot of hand and body gesturing. It was comical. One beer after another. Went way beyond my limit, but they kept ordering more. What a night of excess. Good times.

The next morning I got the bill. The room, dinner, breakfast, and I don’t even know how many beers came out to about $15.

H


The ride to Cartagena went really well. I only got lost once. Somehow (and it’s a miracle) I just happened to get on the correct roads that took me straight to my lodgings for the night, the Hostel San Luna. DirtGirl recommend it because it had good lobby parking. Despite this though, I had a riding glove stolen. My fault should not have left the glove on the bike. Perhaps I wanted it stolen considering they are so nasty. But why only take one? Mess with the gringo?

Cartagena has a really rich history. It was conquered a few times until they put a wall around it to defend it.

General Blas de Lezo successfully defended the city against the British in 1741. He lost multiple limbs during combat over the years, and was called “Mediohombre” (Half-man) Here he is missing a leg and arm. I believe he lost his second leg during the British siege.

This fort sits right next to the old city:

Had to go in and check it out:

Cartagena reminded me a lot of Europe. Narrow streets bustling with activity.

Dancing in the streets:

That night I had some of the best damn ceviche ever:

After getting liquored up at the hostel’s roof top bar that night, I decided to try some long exposure shots of the city:

Cool town. Wish I could have hung out here a bit longer. Definitely add this city to your itinerary.

H


The initial plan was to simply spend the night in Taganga and head out, but everyone told me Id be a fool if I didn’t visit the Parque Tyrona. So I headed out by bus to Tyrona with Kess and Lauren two travelers from Australia. Left Ruby with the fine people at Hostel Felipe.

This would be my first bus ride on this trip. All I can say is that this is no way to travel. Slow, loud, cramped. Im sure there are better buses, but there is no way it will ever compete with traveling by bike.

Anyway, after you take three buses you get to the park entrance, and the rest is by foot (or horseback if you are so inclined) The trek takes about two hours (can be done in less) but absolutely worth it. Some of the nicest beaches I have ever seen. Even rivaled Hawaii. Pictures speak louder than words so…..

Hanging out with a few fellow travelers. From left, Lauren, Kess, I forget and Megan who were from the states:

I met Meredith, aka “DirtGirl” here as well. She’s on a KLR and cruising around Colombia for a month. Good to see woman riders on the road.

I spent the night on a hammock and got eaten alive by mosquitoes and sand flies. Had to get up a couple of times to apply more deet. At one point, a dude in a neighboring hammock came over to me. He could smell the deet I was putting on, and pleaded for some. Of course, no problem we’re all suffering here.

The next morning I opted to take a boat back to Taganga. Got completely sunburned in the process, but what a ride. The boat bounced all over the place.

Good times.

H


Taganga is only 5 km from Santa Marta. Despite this it still took me over an hour to find it. The unmarked access road is dirt and goes over some rail road tracks before it turns to tarmac again. I got the help from a local biker who showed me the way. No fricken way I would have ever have found it otherwise.

Taganga is almost the polar opposite of Santa Marta. This place can not be missed. It’s much more laid back than Santa Marta, and a fraction of the size. This is beach bum paradise. You can walk along the cliffs to find other secluded beaches or make your way to Playa Grande, which despite not having an access road is just swarming with people and bars. Cool place to hang.

Playa Grande:

I stayed in the Felipe Hostel that had some of the friendliest and most down to earth people. They had a built in restaurant who’s cook could compete on Iron Chef. Best damn thai-beef Ive ever had. Literally melted in your mouth.

I got there early so I decided to do some bike maintenance. Got to keep Ruby tip-top. This time around it was the rear brake pads.

Talk about waiting to the very last minute. When I got new tires in Guatemala, the dudes at the shop wanted to replace them early. I told them no, and got 5 extra countries out of them.

Skip Santa Marta, and go straight to Taganga. Hard to find but well worth it. At the risk of being labeled “passive aggressive”, I must say that I could stay here for a very long while. Inside joke.

H


Santa Marta is your typical port town. The beach here is nice and inviting, but as for the rest of the town not much can be said. Not entirely sure why I decided to stay here for the night. I ended up in an really expensive hotel that overlooked the water. The told me they had secure parking, but they failed to add that it was in some neighbor’s backyard. WTF?

No doubt, one of the best parts of visiting Colombia is the people watching. Hanging back at a beach side café sipping a cold beer and watching the woman wearing the tightest of tight clothes stroll by. In some cases, they can’t even get their pants zipper completely closed. The road side candy here is endless. All the dudes around me chuckle to one another as one beautiful lass after another walks by. No Spanish required to know what’s on everyone’s mind.

At night the town did come alive. Colombian’s start celebrating Christmas even earlier than us Americans. Christmas decorations are up everywhere. Its actually really odd considering its like summer here, yet you have Santa all dressed up and on his sleigh. Shouldn’t they put him in shorts at least? Maybe on a surfboard?

Santa Marta can be skipped. Tomorrow I hit Taganga only a few clicks away.

H

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