Arrived in Santa Marta - Beach hopping
Mar 17, 2008
|This morning we woke up at 6:30A and took a fast van to Santa Marta (4 hours, 37,000 Pesos/person), a favorite vacationing spot for Colombians. Along the way, we saw many soldiers with guns all along the way. In one sense, it made us felt safe; on the other hand, it made us realized that Colombia´s is still battling an internal war.
After arriving in Santa Marta, we took a taxi and settled in a small fishing town 5km away called Taganga. It has many hostels and a nice beach called Playa Grande. Due to this week being the Easter Week, it is peak holiday season, like China´s labor day holiday, and transportation and accomodation are very booked and with high price. We felt fortunate to find a place but we had to change our plan to stay in Santa Marta for a extra few days to wait out the busy season.
Late in the afternoon, after doing some homeschooling, we took a 15 minute hike up a mountain and went down to a lovely beach called Playa Grande by a fishing village. The sun was setting so we decided to take a boat back to our hostel. It was around 2,000 Pesos for the five of us after some hard bargining as there were no other customers. To our delight, two young men with a small guitar also came aboard. They just played the guitar and sang for the fun of it, very lovely romantic music in the sunset. A couple of meters before we docked, Nathan´s glasses got knocked off by a rope. Jonathan jumped off the boat with his snorkeling gear right away. The two young men also put down their stuff, jumped in the water to help. It would take a miracle to find Nathan´s glasses in the dark. Nathan prayed to Jesus for a miracle that his glasses be found. After Jonathan´s third and last try, he decided to give up, then suddenly his toes caught hold the glasses! This is truly and miracle and answered prayer!
The second miracle was finding money we thought was lost. After some prayer, Olivia asked Jon to check the pockets of his swimming trunks. Drenched, yet still all there! We found the money to pay for the boat ride. The third miracle yesterday was finding Jon´s cellphone holder. We thought it was left behind at the internet place in Cartegena. To our surprise, it tumbled out from our bag out of nowhere!
The next day, we took a bus to Tayrona National Park, one of the most beautiful costal spot in Colombia with tropical jungle right to the beach front and large boulders sitting close to the shore. With Joani`s big beautiful smile, we were able to hitchhike to and out of the parking area, which would have been a 4km walk. Although there is another 50 minutes jungle hike to get to the beach, but it was fun discovering different insects and reptiles, the most interesting being the leave-cutting ants. The ants actually make a very visible highway which it uses to transport freshly cut leaves to its hole to grow fungus for eating.
We went to two beaches in the park, the Arrecifes and Piscina. The kids had fun making sand castle and Annie and I went swimming and snorkling. Although there were not too many tropical fish, but the water was clear and the swim refreshing. We thought about staying over night at the park but during this Easter week it was too expensive.
1) Hostel Moramar: A mom and pop run hostel who are very friendly. The rooms are clean and has good ventilation and sea breeze. There is a self-serve kitchen but no laundry room. For a room with four bed plus a hammock, it is 70,000 Pesos/day (USD 38) during this peak season week. +57-5-4219202; www.hostalmoramar.com, email@example.com.
2) The cheapest way to get to Parque Tayrona is to take a bus at Mercado Central, near Calle 11 & Carrer 10. The bus ride of 45 mintues and costs 4,000 Pesos. From the entrance, you can take a shuttle for 2,000 Pesos or hitch a ride in. The Park entrance fee is high, however, at 25,000 Pesos/person, even for baby.
3) To go to Playa Grande, there is no need to take a boat as it costs about 5,000 Pesos round trip but you can walk for 15 minutes to get there.
4) Taxi from Santa Marta to Taganga costs 6,000 Pesos and small van to Taganga costs 1,000 Pesos per person.