Or: A failed attempt to go to Parque Tayrona
From Cartagena, our trio took a spirited six-hour bus ride to Santa Marta. We stayed at a fun but very full hostel called the Drop Bear. While we enjoyed the pool and our fellow travelers, the hostel staff were far less than helpful. In the morning after checking out we asked for instructions on how to get the bus to Parque Tayrona. The girl gave us instructions that turned out to be incorrect and cost us about 40 minutes of fruitless waiting and another 30 minutes of lost wandering. But that wasn’t even close to the most frustrating part of our day.
Another hour on a bus and we arrived at the park’s entrance, only to find a line that reached to the road. As soon as we crossed the street to the line a disgruntled backpacker walking in the other direction grumpily informed us that the park was closed because it was at capacity. We sat down on a bench to re-plan.
Thinking back, I became even more angry at the girl from the hostel who surely knew that this would be the case. Apparently it had been happening for the last 3 weeks (the tourist high season) and it’s unlikely she wouldn’t have heard about it from other travelers. A little warning would have saved us a lot of time, money, and frustration.
So onto another bus to Palomino. It took about an hour and half, but a lovely hour and a half. We met a fruitatarian from Israel and the seaside view was beautiful. I had no idea at the time, but we had crossed into a new department, the famous La Guajira, where in some parts there hasn’t been any rain in over 2 years. The bus dropped us off at the side of the road in front of a very dusty wild-wild-west looking place, except with lots of palm trees.
We had apparently arrived the same day as a large music festival and the town was crammed with people. Thank goodness, there were still a few hammocks available at the third place we looked. Later we guessed they might have been the last three hammocks in town.
We spent the day at the beach, the water was cold and the sand was a bit rocky, but finally we had made it to the seaside after so much travel and frustration. We enjoyed a few cocktails and a delicious pizza dinner.
Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to one of Palomino’s biggest attractions- the river tubing. I wish we’d gotten the chance, that’s one of my favorite activities back home. There’s always next time! After one night and two days, we got on another series of buses back to Santa Marta and then on to San Gil!