ColombiaSightseeingSouth America

11/20: “We can walk there from here”

Morning trip to the Airport
We gave ourselves a leisurely morning and slept in then had breakfast at the hotel. The taxi we caught was the epitome of efficiency and got us to the airport in speedy time, which was great because the checkout process took longer than expected and we were running late. The line for checkin was madness, but we got one of the airline employees to put us in the rushed line since were late. Security was a breeze, so when all was said and done we got from our hotel door to the airplane in one hour fifteen minutes. Despite the body odor on the plane it was a really pleasant trip. The people next to me vacated their seats in favor of an exit row, so I had an entire row to myself.

Avianca Ticket Counters

Domestic line, which we weren’t in because we had to rush to our flight

Wondering if we were going to make our flight.
Tamaca Beach Hotel
Our destination was Santa Marta: a town on the Caribbean coast and a jumping-off point for treks to the Lost City (something we want to do someday, but not on this quick trip) When we arrived at the Tamaca Hotel – a lovely beach-front hotel – we were surprised to hear that they couldn’t locate our reservation and also didn’t speak very good English. But Ji knew enough Spanish to get by and could also get on her Blackberry and make phone calls; like to Expedia to find out why her reservation wasn’t recognized in Tamaca’s system. But all ended well, we got our room, and had a buffet lunch (for $20!) that was only so-so. Then, of course, there was the obligatory afternoon downpour though this one was particularly heavy.

View from hotel room

Sitting at lunch

Grocery Store Outing
We needed water and snacks and a few other random things, so we headed out to a supermarket two blocks away. This proved not so easy since the roads were flooded with 3-5 inches of water from the downpour. But we managed it. When we got to checkout with our belongings Ji handed over her credit card the woman asked for ID. Ji didn’t have hers (the passports were locked in the hotel safe) but I had my driver’s license. So she took my drivers license as ID for Ji’s credit card. Makes you wonder why ask for ID at all, but it’s Colombia. What are you going to do?

Flooded streets

Tamaca Beach Hallway


Ji and Santa Marta


Me and Santa Marta

The Quest for Ben y josephs
We decided to get an early dinner at a well-reviewed steak place called Ben y Joseph’s that was a few blocks away. And since it was beautiful sunsetty-ish outside and we were on the beach, we thought we’d walk there along the beach. Famous last words. We walked for a while on the beach, past the local bar, by people trying to sell us things, over rocks, along a ledge, past some men howling “Americans! Americans!” And then we ran into a big grated fence where we couldn’t walk any further.



River of rain water

Beach? What beach?


Clearly that adventure wasn’t going to work. We turned around and made our way along the ledge, the rocks, the touts, the howling men, etc, and then broke into a water park to find an easier water park to the street.

This wasn’t as easy as we thought it would be. We walked a few blocks along the street and ran into a major flood.

Uh. Nope.

Not this way either.
So we had to take this round-about route to bypass the flooded streets and get to the street that had Ben y Joseph’s. We had more howling men, screaming kids, and eventually a major dog fight that sent a young girl clutching at my waist to protection. Then – FINALLY – we got to the hotel that had Ben y Joseph’s.

Except it wasn’t the right hotel. And there was no Ben y Joseph’s. Turns out, we weren’t staying in Santa Marta at all (though, to our credit, the streets are laid out the same). We were in Rodadero. Santa Marta was a taxi ride away. The taxi we hailed a few blocks away took us up into the mountains and then down a windy road until we reached the actual beach town of Santa Marta. Ji and I sat in the back of the taxi, laughing ourselves silly.

A is Rodadero.  B is Santa Marta.  The blue line is the 20 minute drive between the two.  So, uh, you can’t walk there.

When we finally got to Ben y Joseph’s we were two of very few people (it was still very early) and a downpour started as soon as we walked in.  Only their big tables were covered by umbrellas so they seated us at table for 6 and we ordered starters, 8 oz “lady steaks”, and cervesas because we need drinks after that ordeal.  The steaks were slightly overcooked but still good.

 Soaking wet

Flooded Street (on which we saw three men pushing a van)

Post-rain pictures

The beach at Santa Marta is a lot like Miami’s South Beach, with a road then landscaping and then the beach

After dinner we drove back to the hotel, took a little walk around the hotel grounds, and then called it a night.