October 24, 2009 GMT

After a few days of sailing round the San Blas Islands on the Stahlratte, we arrived in Cartagena. There was a bit of hanging around while our fixer went ahead with our passports to Immigration. We then all went onshore, as we had been summoned to the Immigration office. We grabbed a couple of taxis and were in and out of Immigration in a short time. We then returned to the boat, unloaded the bikes, and then headed into Cartagena to find a hostel.
We ended up in Media Luna , in the old part of Cartagena, and had a quick walk around to get our bearings before holing up in the hostel and relaxing.
Cartagena was a sensory overload after 4 days on the open water. The walled city was simply beautiful.

Cartagena was a sensory overload after 4 days on the open water. The walled city was simply beautiful.
Narrow cobbled streets were lined with beautiful old colonial buildings, street vendors were selling everything from single cigarettes to blankets, from freshly squeezed juice to mobile phones. Old men played dominos on the street corners iguanas strolled around in the park while kids played double-dutch on the grass. There seemed to be something going on everywhere you looked. The sights and sounds of this city thrilled me, but the heat was intense, and after a couple of days of wondering around , I decided to make a bee-line to the beach. I loaded up the bike and set off for Santa Marta, 4 hours north of Cartagena on the Caribbean coast.
Santa Marta is one of Colombiaís top destinations for vacationing Columbians, but when I got there, I could not, for the life of me, understand. The city was grimy, the beach was almost non existent, and I was quite unimpressed. I checked into a hotel, lay down on the bed and slept.
I left Santa Marta early the next morning, hoping that I would find something better in the next town, Taganga, only 10 minutes ride away. The 10-minute ride took more like 40 minutes, due to me somehow getting lost on the road, but when I did arrive, I was greeted by a gorgeous beach and a delightful little seaside town. This was more like it!
I found myself a dorm bed in the Casablanca Hostel, right on the beach, with the balcony of the dorm room overhanging the sea. Oh I do love to be beside the seaside.
Taganga was a lovely little fishing village, with a series of bays and beaches easily reachable by hiring a fishing boat followed by a walk along the coastal bluffs.
The beaches were all pretty busy, but I found myself a little bay all to myself and settled down on the sand for a snooze. I lay undisturbed on the beach for a couple of hours before making my way back to the main beach for some fresh fish. The restaurants had no menus; instead they each had a cold box filled with the catch of the day which they would bring over to the table so the diner could choose exactly which fish they wanted cooked up.
I ate my fill of fish, rice and beans then got back in another Lancha, for the trip back to the main beach and the hostel.
After a quick shower, I grabbed my camera and went for a walk round the village. Kids were playing in the streets and I stopped to chat with a few of them. More and more kids came out of the homes to see what the fuss was about, and within a few minutes, I was surrounded!
The fun went on until the sun started to go down, and I made my excuses and returned to the hotel.
There didnít seem to be much going on, so I took the opportunity to get a rare early night, and went to bed. I was awoken by a thumping bass rhythm coming from behind the hostel. I tried to get back to sleep, but after a few failed attempted, I decided to go see where the music was coming from. The club was indeed just behind the hostel, and it was jumping. I bumped into a couple of guys I had met in Panama City, and we sat and enjoyed a couple of beers together, before tiredness hit me again and I returned to the hostel.
A couple of days chilling on the beach and I was ready to head South. I had to return to Cartagena to pick up the road to Medellin, my next stop, so I allowed myself another day of wondering round this gorgeous city, watching street dancers entertain the tourists, and watching tourists entertain the locals with their antics.

Posted by Dan Shell at October 24, 2009 02:33 AM GMT

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