Beaches, Bars & Bush Fire – Days 36 – 38

Thu 8th – Sat 10th Mar

Alarm goes off early and I’m in a taxi by 0600 hours. Thought it would be better heading up to the coast than hanging around Bogotá just waiting to leave.

Decision well made as this is the view that greets me when coming in to land and outside the airport…and it’s bloody hot!

I decide to stay in the town of Rodadero, just outside of Santa Marta and is only 20000cop in a taxi (just over £4) from the airport.

I can’t check in until 1500 but I packed the stuff I need near the top and promptly change to sit by the pool

and take a gander down at the beach.

God I’m so glad I have a week here. I feel like I’m on holiday for a bit as opposed to being a traveller.

I find a beach side restaurant and pop in for some lunch

The only annoying thing about this place so far is the number of beach vendors trying to flog u shit! I’m engrossed in my Kindle but that doesn’t deter them either. In the end I tell them I want to eat my lunch in peace so please just leave me alone! I’m left alone after that!

My bill comes and I’m charged Gringo prices, despite there being a menu and I know exactly what I owe. I’m told I got given a special menu (chips added to my rice dish), I explain I didn’t ask for a special menu so I pay what is due, recalculate my 10% propina which really baffles him and away I go!

Rodadero is easy to navigate around – same grid system as many other Latin American towns and is awash with tourist shops, restaurants & eateries, only a few bars and small supermarket shops.

I head back to my hostel (Calle 11) and meet a lovely girl called Taz from England by the pool. We arrange to go for dinner and drinks this evening.

So far I love this place – lovely pool area, near the beach and town, great staff. Room is fairly basic – bed is set on wooden crates which was a shock (but is actually really comfy), a shelf unit and more importantly – it has AC!

There are 3 bathrooms in the hostel but only one is in the room area. The other is in reception and another is by the pool. This is the only drawback to me as who wants to walk throu these public areas after having a shower or if desperate for the loo. My only criticism of the place.

We go to this place called Truck Tops for dinner and chicken & chips cost me about £3. It wasn’t that great thou and not really sure what my chicken contained – won’t be heading back there! On to a bar and with limited choice we head to Jamaica cocktail bar

Drinks are fairly pricey (compared to a beer) but music is good and it’s a lush evening so why not! Only problem was that an eatery opposite was having some kind of party and the music off between the 2 venues was enough to give anyone a headache! We lasted 2 drinks and went back!

Friday was just a pool day. After being on the go so much, I decided to have some down time and just chill, sunbathe and read my book so that’s what I did!

Trying to save a few pennies and being here for the week, I even went to the Ara Supermarket opposite to get me some breakfast and lunch for the week. I did treat myself to a lovely Italian for dinner thou at Salvator’s. Pricier than the more cafe looking restaurants but great value for money as portions are good – I ordered the bruschetta for £1.80 and out comes 6 pieces!!!

Back at the Hostel, a party is underway with BBQ night (I cdnt be arsed to go out n buy my own meat etc so decided not to bother) but it looks like a fair amount of rum has been consumed! This is a trial night, they are experimenting with ideas they may introduce to the hostel. It brings people together and definitely works so I wd say it’s a keeper. I chuck in my contribution to the rum then it’s cocktail making away! I sink a few but will never catch up with the others! I was planning on heading into Santa Marta tomorrow night (good job I didn’t as there’s a public vote on Sunday and alcohol sale is prohibited from 6pm) but as this lot plan on heading in tonight, decide it makes more sense to join these. 3 taxis pick us up at about 2300 and we head to a salsa bar. This was really cool with a DJ playing some wicked tunes. The only problem is the size and when people want to start dancing, there isn’t room to swing a dead cat! Great vibe in here thou

We then head to La Brisa Loca. I didn’t realise what this place was, pay my 10000cop entrance fee then once up on the roof terrace realise it’s one of the biggest party hostels in town. This place is rammed and everyone is having a blast. Not being quite on the same level I find it’s a bit much for me and decide to go find some where else. I have a drink in a quieter bar but I’m just not feeling it so grab a taxi back home.

Calle 19 is banging thou and all bars seem like clubs. Not sure what it’s like other nights of the week but a Friday is definitely where it’s at if ur after a big night out!

Saturday I decide to head back into Santa Marta to venture round the town in daytime. It’s easy enough, just flag down a blue bus and pay 1700cop and get off on Calle 5. Calle 5 is like the main commercial street full of clothes shops. For a shopaholic like me I find it hard to resist going in these stores but have to reason that I don’t really need any more clothes, don’t really have the space in my rucksack to carry them and am not really going to places where fashion is high on the agenda!

The tourist bit of Santa Marta isn’t that big and again follows the grid like layout so easy to navigate around.

Cathedral square and the cathedral itself is a pretty little place to sit and chill.

For being one of the big highlights to visit, it’s certainly one of the most tranquil – there aren’t a million street vendors trying to flog u this that and the other. There also aren’t a million cafes or coffee shops surrounding it either so does make for quite a refreshing change to others across the globe.

Calle 19 (where I was last night) is completely different in the daytime. The beats of Ibiza have been replaced by a calm tranquility and u’d never recognise the 2 as being the same. A beautiful tree lined pedestrianised street full of bars (now closed) and restaurants.

At the end of Calle 19 is the beautiful Lovers Park.

Just across from here is the other big park dedicated to Bolivar

and across from here is the Malecón where u get the bus back to Rodadero. Not as nice as the one Havana – especially as the shipping port is in full view with all its cargo containers at one end but once that is out of view it is a pretty sight

There are a lot more street vendors down here selling drinks, juice and cerviche but they’re not too pushy.

At the other end of the Malecon is Santa Marta Marina. If it wasn’t for the stretch of sand and the blazing 30 degree sun…I thought for a moment I was back in Portishead…especially with the big tanker ship going past!

Saturday evening there was an alcohol ban after 6pm due to there being a vote for deputy senator or something the following day. Glad I went into Santa Marta last night! The scene in the local supermarket!

That evening, I was just chilling in my room when there’s a knock on the door. The hostel manager tells me we might have an emergency on our hands and to pack up just incase we need to evacuate!!!

Taken to the window, the cause of this emergency is a bush fire about 500m away. Wind conditions blowing in our direction make it a possible evacuation threat.

Luckily, the fire almost burns itself out and finally the bomberos turn up to get it under control. I’m told it was probably caused by human accident – maybe a cigarette or something but I’ve no idea. Fire out, drama over, we all leave the hostel terrace and back to wot we were all doing before!

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