The trip in the trip – Medellin and the Caribbean Sea

In a 7-weeks holiday for paragliding, you also need a break so we decided to leave for Santa Marta, in the north of Colombia, on the Caribbean coast. The plane tickets I bought online from a local airways company, from Medellin, a city we anyway wanted to visit and meet with some friends from the US. The booking for the accommodation I made using Airbnb or hostels with good reviews.

But how was it.. an adventure from the first day to the last! It had happened so many unpredictable things but I managed to be zen and get over the nasty things in order to have fun on this trip.

Going from Roldanillo to Medellin

The first day of the trip wasn’t as expected. After a very long way from Roldanillo to Pereira 2h and from Pereira to Medellin 7h15min for about 250km, we arrived in this overcrowded city where you have to run for your life as a pedestrian because you never have priority on the street. The first place I have booked on Airbnb was a room in an apartment in El Poblado, one of the most crowded places in Medellin. The room had no outside windows, but only some slots to a very small courtyard, so no natural light or ventilation. After 3 weeks staying in Roldanillo, Medellin seemed horrible. However, meeting Kristen and Jason was great.

Santa Marta

The trip to Santa Marta was ok, just 1h long, I think we actually spent more time getting to the airport. From Simon Bolivar airport to Santa Marta city center we took a local bus spending only 5000pesos for 2 people. We walked a bit to visit the city center, we had lunch at a local restaurant with good food, where the corn soup and the tee were from the house and I had a sea fish with patacones. Although the place didn’t look very tourist-friendly, a Colombian girl eating there encouraged me to enter and try it. And she was right, the food was very good and cheap. The walk through Santa Marta was a short one, only a few hours, visiting the port, some shops and a nice and shady coffee shop near the Tayrona Museum of Gold. The city of Santa Marta wasn’t a very good experience, it’s pretty dirty, crowded and many beggars everywhere. From there we took the bus to Tayrona area, which was 8000pesos and lasted 1h but was interesting.

Places and people

The whole Tayrona area has incredible views, there were extraordinary places we had visited and if I come back here again, I would definitely stay again at the Journey Hostel, where I really liked the accommodation type and the design. It is one of the coolest places I’ve been. The views are great, the staff very friendly and they give you useful tips about places to visit around the Tayrona Park. The rooms are for 2 or more people, actually some open-space places with no walls only handrail. The huts are made of wood on a steep slope, with toilets and showers on the ground floor and the beds on the upper level. The bunk beds were made of bamboo wood and each of them with a mosquito net. You can also rent a hammock to sleep in if you want to go cheaper. The place is very cool and I guess many west European people preferred it. We decided to spend here 2 nights even if I had only booked one because it was more comfortable than sleeping in a hammock on the beach. so this is a nice place, I strongly recommend it.

the fish I had in Santa Marta, at a local restaurant
the fish I had in Santa Marta, at a local restaurant
visiting Santa Marta
visiting Santa Marta
the view from our room near Tayrona Park
the view from our room near Tayrona Park
me and the hammock
me and the hammock
the Journey Hostel
the Journey Hostel

Tayrona Natural Park

The first day around, we visited Tayrona Natural Park, a place with many great reviews on the internet and definitely a must see. It is a beautiful natural park, but very overrated and also the entrance fee was expensive. We entered the park on the Calabazo entrance, so not the main one, because it is not so crowded and you hike more to get to the beach. On our way, we visited Pueblito village, a 2000 years old village of Tayrona civilization, which initially had around 2000 families, but you could see now only about 5 houses with a circular form, covered with sugarcane.  These houses are having few inhabitants with their families, but I don’t think they are very comfortable being a museum piece, people staring at them and taking photos with their homes. Besides, on the heat that was that day, they were cooking inside with the door closed.

After another 2h of hiking, we got to the Cabo San Juan de Guia beach, with amazing views, but very crowded, especially Dutch people, and big waves so that you weren’t allowed to swim too far from the coast. The main attraction was actually the alligator living peaceful and quiet in his swamp near this beach. what I don’t understand it was why people were relaxing staying on that part of the beach between the swamp and the sea. So I asked a lifeguard and he told me that if the alligator comes on the beach, people will simply leave.

in the jungle
in the jungle
Vladut matching with the red tree
Vladut matching with the red tree
to the Pueblito Village
to the Pueblito Village
a Tayrona house
a Tayrona house
Playa Cabo San Juan del Guia
Playa Cabo San Juan del Guia
the alligator's swamp
the alligator's swamp
the cute iguana
the cute iguana

The Monkey Walk and the Naranjos Beach

For the second day in Tayrona area, we followed the tips from the hostel’s staff and we went on the Monkey Walk to the Naranjos Beach. So we passed through the river and walked among the plantations of bananas and coconuts and spontaneous vegetation in the jungle and the path was full of ants, lizards and iguanas. We haven’t seen any monkeys but it was a very pleasant walk especially when we got to that cool and wild beach with big waves, not recommended for swimming. On one part of the beach, there was the place where the river flows into the sea, being the favorite spot for alligators.

The Valencia Waterfalls

Next visit was to Valencia waterfalls, on the north-eastern part on the main road, where we had like 20 minutes walk to get in a place where the waterfalls formed some natural pools with sweet water. We enjoyed the walk and the splashing and I think this area is worth visiting.

On our last night in the north, we slept in Santa Marta in a home of a very friendly family and the guy that rented us the room also made us a very tasty breakfast.

Back to Medellin

Our last day of the trip was scheduled for the way back to Medellin and visiting the city. Our program was disturbed by the fact our SIM cards were not working anymore so we had no internet because we never registered the phones in Colombia. They have this stupid law that you have to register your phone in maximum 20 days since you have bought the Colombian SIM card otherwise, your SIM card will be blocked. To solve this problem, we visited some phone shops to figure that even if you register your phone after being blocked, it will be 72h until it will work again. So Vladut had to buy a new phone and a new SIM card so we could have internet on our way and we actually spent half of the day doing that. The other half we got to visit Pueblito Paisa, a small part of a village reconstructed on a small hill in the city where you can see the panoramic view of Medellin. After a short walk in the city center, we headed to the place I have booked on Airbnb in the same neighborhood, El Poblado. The thing is that after an hour wondering and asking where that place is and calling them with no answer, we realized that it is a non-existing guesthouse and that I got tricked. So, just that you know, Guest House Poblado does not exist in Medellin, so don’t book or pay for it. So we entered the first hostel we saw on our way and we found a nice, basic and cheap room to spend the night in. And after a few days, we got our money back from Airbnb for booking that room we never found.

And back home to Roldanillo

The last day of the trip was scheduled for the way back from Medellin to Roldanillo, knowing that for this 250 km or so you spend around 10h from your life. So we got to the bus station and we found a bus going to Cali that could leave us in Zarzal, 10 km away from Roldanillo. The driver said that this will take about 6-7 hours, but we had lots of delays from the beginning so we actually spent 9h with all the stops. Although the journey by bus from Medellin to Roldanillo is very beautiful, with high mountains and deep valleys, narrow roads and very comfortable seats, I definitely DO NOT RECOMMEND traveling by bus on more than 50km in Colombia. You really waste your youth on the road.

So we had our adventures in the last few weeks and I really hope to be good weather for flying 🙂

Playa Naranjos, the one I enjoyed most
Playa Naranjos, the one I enjoyed most
on the Monkey Walk, among bananas and coconuts
on the Monkey Walk, among bananas and coconuts
platana con queso on a leaf
platana con queso on a leaf
the Valencia Waterfall
the Valencia Waterfall
Medellin- the Pueblito Paisa
Medellin- the Pueblito Paisa
Medellin- city center
Medellin- city center
on the road from Medellin to Roldanillo
on the road from Medellin to Roldanillo

 

Excursia din excursie

Intr-o vacanta de 7 saptamani dedicata zborului cu parapanta ai nevoie si de o pauza, asa ca ne-am hotarat sa plecam spre Santa Marta, in nordul Columbiei, la marea Caraibe. Biletele de avion le-am cumparat online de la o companie locala, cu plecare din Medellin pe care oricum voiam sa-l vizitam si sa ne vedem cu niste prieteni din SUA. Rezervarile pentru cazare le-am facut prin airbnb sau hosteluri la care am gasit review-uri bune online.

Cum a fost asta.. A fost o aventură, de la prima la ultima zi! S-au intamplat o gramada de chestii neprevazute dar am reusit sa fim zen si sa trecem peste neplaceri ca sa ne putem bucura de iesirea asta.

Drumul spre Medellin

Prima zi de excursie in Medellin nu a fost asa cum ma asteptam. Dupa un drum foarte lung din Roldanillo spre Pereira care a durat 2h si din Pereira in Medellin care a durat 7h15min pentru 220km, am ajuns in orasul asta super aglomerat unde ca pieton trebuie sa alergi pentru viata ta pentru ca nimeni nu-ti acorda prioritate . Primul loc unde am rezervat prin airbnb a fost o camera intr un apartament în una din cele mai aglomerate zone din oras, El Poblado. Camera nu avea fereastra spre stradă, ci spre o curte interioara si niciun mod de a deschide ferestra, avand doar niste fante mereu deschise, doar ca total insuficiente pentru aerisire si ventilare.

După 3 sapt de stat în satul Roldanillo, orașul Medellin mi s-a parut groaznic. Dar întâlnirea cu Jason si Kristen, pentru care venisem de fapt aici, a fost o plăcere.

Santa Marta

Drumul din Medellin pana în Santa Marta a fost super ok, cu avionul a durat 1h; mai mult a durat drumul de la cazare pana la aeroport. Din aeroportul Simon Bolivar pana în Santa Marta am luat un autobus local care a fost 5000 pesos 2 persoane pana în centru. Acolo ne am plimbat un pic, am luat masa la un restaurant cu mâncare f bună, unde supa de porumb și ceaiul au fost din  partea casei, și eu am servit peste cu pataconas, super bun! Deși locul nu promitea prea multe, având aer de bodega locala, m a încurajat o tipa columbianca, care mi a făcut semn ca e super ok mâncarea. Si chiar a fost și buna și ieftina. Plimbarea prin Santa Marta a fost destul de scurta, doar câteva ore, am ajuns prin targul din centru, la mare, langa muzeul aurului Tayrona, la o cafenea cu multa umbra și apoi spre piata centrala de unde sa luam busul spre Tayrona. Orașul Santa Marta nu mi a lasat o super impresie, e destul de murdar, se circula greu, e aglomerat și sunt mulți cerșetori. Busul spre Tayrona a costat 8000 pesos de fiecare și a durat cam o ora, dar a fost interesant.

Locuri si oameni

Zona Tayrona are peisaje incredibile, au fost locuri extraordinare pe care le am vizitat și dacă ar fi sa mai vin în zona, sigur as reveni la The Journey Hostel, unde mi a plăcut mult tipul de cazare, amenajarea și organizarea lor.

E cred unul din cele mai faine hosteluri în care am stat. Priveliștea e super faina, oamenii sunt prietenoși și îți dau sfaturi folositoare în legătură cu locurile pe care le poți vizita în zona, mai ales in afara parcului. Camerele sunt de 2 sau mai multe persoane, openspace fara pereți exteriori, ci doar cu balustrada. Cabanele sunt făcute din lemn pe o panta abrupta, au toalete și dușuri la nivelul de jos. Paturile sunt suprapuse, făcute din bambus și toate au plase de țânțari. Se poate sta și în hamac cu plasa de țânțari, locul e foarte tare si preferat in special de vest europeni. Am hotărât sa stam aici 2 nopți deși rezervasem doar una, pentru ca e mai confortabil ca în parc, unde plătești pt hamac prețul de pat de aici. Si aici chiar mi se pare foarte frumos, il recomand.

Parcul Natural Tayrona

In prima zi de stat in zona, am vizitat Parcul Natural Tayrona, unul din locurile despre care citisem pe net review uri bune și ceva ce trebuie vizitat.  Este un parc natural fain, dar foarte overrated si intrarea destul de scumpa. Am intrat pe la intrarea secundara Calabazo, mai puțin utilizata de turiști prin faptul ca ai de mers 4 h pana la plaja, e drum de munte cu suișuri și coborâșuri și poți vizita satul Pueblito, un sat vechi de locuitori din tribul Tayrona. Acum 2000 de ani avea în jur de 2000 de locuințe, deci cam tot atâtea familii, iar acum se mai vedeau  în jur de 10 terase pe care fusesera construite casele și doar vreo 5 case locuite de forma circulara și acoperite cu trestie.  Oamenii cred ca nu erau foarte confortabili ca piese de muzeu, lumea uitându-se la ei în casă și făcându-le poze. De altfel, chiar pe căldura care era, ei gateau in interior.

După alte 2 ore am ajuns la plaja Cabo San Juan de Guia , cu peisaje super frumoase, unde era plin de oameni, în general olandezi, și valuri mari, asa ca nu puteai înota prea departe de țărm pentru ca nu te lăsau salvamarii.

Piesa de rezistenta era aligatorul care trăia pașnic în balta lui din spatele plajei. Ce n am inteles este cum unii oameni puteau face plaja relaxați chiar pe fasia de nisip dintre balta aligatorului și mare. Am întrebat un ingrijitor/salvamar și mi a zis simplu ca daca vine aligatorului, oamenii se muta mai încolo sau pleaca.

Drumul maimutelor si plaja Naranjos

Pentru a doua zi de Tayrona am urmat sfaturile celor de la hostel si am mers pe The Monkey Walk spre plaja Naranjos. Am trecut raul si am mers printre plantatii de banane si cocos si vegetatie spontana de jungla, drumul a fost plin de furnici, soparle si iguane, nu am vazut maimute dar a fost foarte placut in special cand am ajuns la plaja care era aproape pustie, foarte frumoasa si cu valuri foarte mari, nerecomandata pentru balacit sau inot. La unul din capetele plajei era zona in care se varsa raul in mare si se pare ca era locul preferat al crocodililor.

Cascada Valencia

Urmatoarea vizita a fost la cascada Valencia, spre nord-est pe drumul principal, unde aveai cam 20min de mers pe jos si ajungeai intr-un loc unde cascada forma niste piscine naturale cu apa dulce. A fost foarte frumoasa plimbarea si balaceala si zona merita vizitata.

In ultima seara din nord am dormit in Santa Marta acasa la o familie foarte prietenoasa, iar tipul care ne-a inchiriat camera ne-a facut dimineata si un mic dejun foarte gustos.

Inapoi in Medellin

Ultima zi de excursie a fost programata pentru drumul din Santa Marta si vizitarea orasului Medellin. Socotelile ne-au fost incurcate de faptul ca am ramas fara internet pe cartelele SIM cumparate cu 20 de zile in urma pentru ca telefoanele in Columbia trebui inregistrate in aceasta perioada. Pentru asta a trebuit sa ne plimbam pe la cateva reprezentante de companii telefonice ca sa aflam de fapt ca dureaza 72h sa ti se deblocheze cartela chiar daca o inregistrezi si a trebuit sa cumparam un nou telefon si o noua cartela ca sa putem avea net in continuare. Am piedut jumate de zi cu treaba asta si restul am reusit sa vizitam Pueblito Paisa, un mic sat reconstruit pe un deal din mijlocul orasului, unde puteai admira panorama Medellinului. Apoi ne-am mai plimbat prin centru, am cumparat cateva suveniruri si ne-am indreptat spre locul unde aveam rezervare platita. Insa dupa ce am dat ocol la cartier (tot El Poblado) intreband si cautand o ora intreaga, ne dam seama ca este o teapa si ca locul de fapt nu exista (Guest House Poblado nu exista fizic in Medellin, ca sa stiti sa nu rezervati). Asa ca am intrat in primul hostel din drum unde am gasit o cazare foarte basic dar decenta si am reusit chiar sa facem dus cald :).

Si inapoi in Roldanillo

Ultima zi a fost programata pentru drumul înapoi spre Roldanillo, știind ca la dus am făcut aproape 10h30min in total din Roldanillo pana in Medellin, la întors am mers în autogara Medellin și am găsit un bus spre Cali care sa ne oprească în Zarzal, la 10km de Roldanillo. Șoferul a zis ca dureaza 6-7 h călătoria, insa am avut parte de multe întârzieri încă de la plecare, asa ca de fapt a durat mai mult, in total 9h cu tot cu opriri. Desi drumul cu busul din Medellin spre Roldanillo e impresionant, munți înalți și vai adânci, drumuri înguste si scaunele mult mai comode ca în avion, clar NU recomand calatoriile cu autocarul pe distante mai mari de 50km in Colombia. Iti pierzi tineretea pe drum, serios.

Asa ca am avut parte de cateva aventuri in ultimele saptamani si acum sper sa fie vreme buna de zbor mai departe.

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