Arriving into 40 degree humidity at 7pm at night we automatically felt more relaxed. As a Queenslander I feel at ease in the heat. It only took an hour flight but we went from cold, grey and dreary Bogota to sunny, humid (Darwin humid as Trent would call it) and happy Cartagena! Situated on the North Coast and famous for its pirate protected walled city and Caribbean influence – Cartagena is a very popular tourist destination. The people are incredibly friendly, the fruit and alcohol is in abundance and you can get lost wandering around the old town. We spent over a week in this beautiful city and we absolutely loved it. Mornings were spent exploring, afternoons for napping and nights for drinking and attempting to Salsa. What more could you want? We could live in Cartagena.
We split up our time in Cartagena with a trip to Tayrona National Park. We awoke at 4am and waited for a bus to pick us up. An important thing to understand about bus travel in S.A – it will never, ever run on time. And that is something you must accept and embrace. 3 hour journeys turn into 7 hours as your advertised ‘Directivo’ bus stops at every town and every corner to pick up locals. Or to stop so someone can get on and sell you empanadas, bread, soft drink anything you name it! On one hand as someone who is known to be quite impatient I think of all the time wasted. But I have grown to sort of love this bus culture. I love that we can be 2 hrs from a town and a lady still gets on and gives you the speech about how her empanadas are the best – rides for 20minutes – gets off and then takes another bus back to where she started. They do this all day and this is their job – incredible. So as you can imagine our 5 hour bus took 7 and we were finally at the entrance to the park. An incredible 2 hour walk through the jungle in what I believe is the most intense humidity of my life! We saw monkeys, lizards, coconut crabs and lots of creepy crawlers. We made it to Cabo San Juan beach and that is where we stayed for 2 days. With our new friends we had met in Cartagena Simon and Zohra! After 3 days of swimming in the Caribbean, lying in hammocks and living off wine and crackers (we had no cash and ATM broken) it was time to head back to Cartagena via Santa Marta. Lucky for us, Queen Zohra who was the only one who brought bulk cash – paid for a mule to carry our backpacks in and out of the jungle. In the last photo you will see what I referred to as the ‘Death Boat’. An alternative to walking out of the park was a boat that left every afternoon (right as the afternoon storm rolls in) throws as many people onto the boat then speeds off. I read horrible accounts of the boats breaking down in the middle of the ocean, women being told to head to the back in rough waters and many other things. Lucky for us we had no cash so couldn’t afford it – we did watch as it pulled away one evening and I gave the sign of the cross to those below. A lady saw me and her face went white – I think she just realised what she was in for !