Gorgeous Guatape

We arrived at Guatape as usual starving! The closest restaurant looked busy so was an obvious choice for us. The view was amazing but the food didn’t really live up, the fish was so dry it resembled a flip flop. So after failing to start an auction amongst the tuc tuc drivers for a ride to our hostel we ended up paying for an overpriced journey in to the middle of nowhere to our hostel coincidently named Happy Buddha. The view was amazing from the hostel. Although we spent the rest of the evening staring at a tv screen rather than out the window, watching mind numbing cartoons hoping life would drain back in to us!

The hostel was overrun with loud drunk Colombians enjoying their holidays as we avoided eye contact too hungover to converse even with each other, and retired to bed early. After a lazy morning and a half decent breakfast we set off to find a rout to La piedra (the rock). On our way out of the hostel a car went to drive past us with two spare seats with our names definitely on them. The car was heading that way anyway so we jumped in and enjoyed our cheepest ride yet… free! 700 steps and a breathtaking view later and we headed in to the most colourful town yet in search for an Indian restaurant we had read about in the lonely planet.

After successfully following simple directions we indulged in some amazing curry’s! Followed by another free ride we got by simply being in the right place at the right time, and arrived back at the hostel! We were hoping to do some paddle boarding but found all the boards already rented out so instead we headed down to the lake so we could stare enviously at the paddle boarders hoping to make them feel awkward enough to give up the boards. Failing that we set off back to Medellin again on rout to Jardin.

Mischief in Medellin

New year same hangovers! Me and Daisy showered, shaved and put some makeup on, we actually resembled the two girls that had left England 3 weeks ago! This is the first sign of the direction the night was going in, see for two girls who have given up caring about appearances and only shave when absolutely necessary when we actually look and feel like women again we want to share that. So now ready for a drink we got tipsy at the hostel bar trying our first shots of Aguadiente. Now sufficiently drunk and ready to take Medellin by storm we left our fellow hostelers and went to Happy Buddha to meet our Aussie mates. A few beers and some eagerly received free food later we decided to walk the half hour journey back to our hostel putting the world to rights the entire way. After a few more beers we were all drunk and aware that the countdown was fast approaching so headed out in a convoy of taxis to our next location. A hostel even more quiet and shit than ours had been. This is where the mischief really began as I decide to wingman Daisy with the help of my super unsubtle friend. Less than five minuets later they share a sneaky kiss and we celebrate our new careers as matchmakers with a high five. I instantly realised this plan had backfired when it dawned on me that I had now lost my wingman. But my matchmaking partner filled the position of partner in crime as we bonded over fellow pride and lots of booze. After a countdown that Daisy missed whilst peeing, followed by hugs with a bunch of practical strangers we ended up at Happy Buddha hostel once again. Where the floors were sticky, the bathroom cues long and the residents a sea of pissed up gringos! We managed to bump in to almost everyone we had met on this trip so far and embarrassingly failed at salsa. After we had kissed a couple of frogs with some cringeworthy public displays of affection across town, we decided to call it a night and snuck off home. Only to wake up the next morning realising the guys we had kissed were actually staying in our hostel! So now sleep deprived and followed by our shame we hid in the tv room watching a chic flic until we had enough energy to load up like donkeys with all our worldly possessions and head off to find a bus out of this hell!

Munchies in Medellin

So the first day in Medellin has been a success, deliriously tired we have spewed out our usual random shit chat to all our new roomies. Where we oversaw the making of pancakes, we did no labour and just picked flaws in their plans dictating our own methods to anyone who would listen, but as soon as the pancakes materialised and we realised we wouldn’t be included in the consuming we decided it was our time to leave. We set off on a mission to find you guessed it.. more food. During our journey a creepy guy plucked up conversation and invited us to a New Years party at Pablo Escobars mansion, we readily took his number and later it dawned on us that he only approached us as he clearly overheard our explicit chat beforehand. Now sufficiently distracted and still super sleep deprived we got lost for over 2 hours walking up and down hills with no real destination in mind but a busy looking street we had passed earlier. Finally we find some where to eat settling for some cheep sushi, a nice meal down but now miles from our hostel and with the full blown munchies we set off in search for churros. There always seems to be a guy pushing churros in your general direction except when you actually want them! We settled for some caramelised peanuts and a whole tub of ice cream which I had already ripped the top off and started consuming before we set foot outside supermarket. Back at the hostel Simon whipped up some piña coladas and we all traded slang words over a few bevy’s. The next day we got up at 7.30, what a lie in! And with the addition of ear plugs a brilliant nights sleep. After a few hours lazing about on the worlds most comfortable sofa FaceTiming home and listening to Daisy’s continuous moans about the WiFi, it was time to get out, and being the culturally adventurous people we are we headed to Starbucks for some caramel frappes! Amazing! Now loaded with enough coffee and sugar to power Palomino through a power cut, we strolled aimlessly around town without a destination in mind wondering if this is what retirement feels like! Until the predictable happened, we decided we were no longer full but not yet hungry meaning we were ready to indulge in another feeding. We stumbled across “Sumo” and ate some of the best ramen we have ever tried! With an intense delicious broth and beautiful tender chicken. What a find! We strolled back to the hostel and played the worlds longest game of scrabble and now with our creative juices flowing and having worked up an appetite we walked to the dangerously close 24hr supermarket to buy cheesecake and chocolate meanwhile discussing what our stripper names would be… Dangerous D and Teasing T or Delicious D and Tasty T. Having rambled our way through town only stopping to feed our ever growing appetites the day had flown us by.

Cruising in Cartagena

That nights sleep was awful as two Asians came in at 1am talking in their normal daytime voices, rudely awakening us two old ladies who enjoy our mornings far too much to abuse the routine imposed by our former jet lagg. As if that wasn’t bad enough they then woke up at 6am only an hour before our designated wake up time stealing our last precious hour of sleep. Throwing around their clothes, muttering to each other, going in and out the room, dropping various items from the top bunk on to my head and being a general nuisance. Now I like to think I’m a very patient sane person but at this point I fully wanted to loose my shit and was mentally composing all the different abusive sentences appropriate for this situation, but instead opted for seething silence with the odd sigh and angry glance. Finally realising it was better just to get up, have breakfast and head off early to our planned boat trip to Playa Blanca. The thing was a shambles from the get go as we waited at the harbour no idea which of the many boats was ours, turns out the smallest most pathetic looking boat with the broken life jackets was in fact ours. Proving sometimes your better off just paying the extra £2.50! But even so we naively piled on with the local Colombian tourists happy to have saved some change. A pervy looking guy clambers on saying hello to me and Daisy. I indiscreetly ignore him and turn to Daisy saying the word creep. Meet our tour guide, full of cheesy jokes and lingering stares. So first stop on the agenda some islands about an hour away, the journey went seemingly well lulling is in to a false sense of optimism! When we got to the islands we were informed that we had two options, pay £10 and enter an animal prison/aquatic show or go snorkelling which was not free as we had been led to believe. We chose the second option and reluctantly paid up. We drifted about in the waves with a horde of distressed excited Colombians all pointing awe struck at the few fish we hadn’t scared off. A pile up back on the boat and we headed off to Playa Blanca. This is where it all went tits up quiet literally as we felt like we were on a scene from titanic! A child sat right behind us screamed continuously the entire 40 minuet journey, the woman in front of us threw up over the side of the boat whilst me and Daisy exchanged disgusted glances and winced away our mouths pressed firmly shut! Just when we thought it couldn’t get any worse the boat slammed down on a huge wave and the old lady up front fainted causing a wave of panic as the surrounding passengers squirted water in her face. Another child then decided this was the perfect moment to start being sick too! Arriving all in one piece Playa Blanca was beautiful but overcrowded to the point of being uncomfortable. The trip back was even more turbulent and the whole trip felt overrated and a waste of a tenner. Once back it was a rushed trip to the bus station where we inhaled some cheep food and bought the cheepest bus tickets we could find. Which meant we weren’t sitting together, we sat together anyway causing us great anxiety the entire 15 hour journey as we expected to have to move. We finally piled off in Medellin sleep deprived, with crooked necks and starving but having avoided any confrontation regarding the seat! Winner!

Cartagenian cuisine

A bus journey that should have taken four hours took 6 and we arrived in Cartagena starving as usual! A quick trip to Arsenal rum bar where we were presented with some rum to taste but hastily downed in true Brit style. We ate some lovely fish dishes that were tasty but too small and overpriced for us ravenous cheep skates. After a walk along the harbour we fell in to bed early. Next morning we were up at 6.30am for a run followed by a quick free breakfast and we set off on a free walking tour. The tour was good but I couldn’t help the inner child in me feeling like I was being dragged around the Alhambra for the 50th time. The guide was very knowledgeable and it was interesting to hear about the history although at the end when he did a quiz we couldn’t answer any of the questions and just fired out random names to the wrong historical story’s. We threw a couple pound to the donation pot and scattered off guiltily. A stroll through town to kill some of the many hours in a day and Daisy spotted a chocolate shop offering free tasters hallelujah! 20 minuets and a serious amount of chocolate later we practically rolled from the place, having tried chocolate in every fruit, nut, spice and skin product. For lunch we went to a place called Espiritu Santo advertiser in the lonely planet as a local gem and boy were they right! The place was huge but every table was packed with locals sat in front of overflowing plates of goodness. We asked for recommendations and ended up with a banquet of fish, rice, salads and chips so good they reminded me of home. One of the fish dishes had a sauce that tasted exactly like salt and vinegar crisps! A walk to find a good view of the sunset and to walk off our indulgent afternoon and we bumped in to a girl we had met in San Gil and her companion. After the sunset the girls suggested dinner and We already knew exactly where to go! A ceviche place we had heard about so we set off in search of it. We were followed the entire way by various musically talented street performers serenading us. When we arrived we found a que out the door proving the food must be good and giving us valuable time to work up an appetite over a beer. The food was everything and more at La Cevicheria we ate peanut octopus and a mixed ceviche with a lovely bottle of Italian wine and some great company. This is also where the blog was born as our new found friends encouraged our silly stories!

Christmas shenanigans in Santa Marta

So it’s been almost a week since Christmas and this is honestly the first time I’ve managed to gather enough brain cells to put pen to paper! The morning after the flamingo antics we set off to Santa Marta ready to check in to out Christmas house. The bus almost left without me as I frantically scoured town for some snacks. So greasy deep fried cheese balls in hand and I jumped on the bus that was now slowly making its way down the street looking out for a sunburnt white chic. On google the house looked close by so we jumped out the bus prematurely in a traffic jam and were instantly driven in to the shade by the mid day sun. Working out our next move the smell of a chicken shop nearby made my mouth water, so believing we were a short walk from our destination and starved as the greasy cheese balls and mayonnaise flavoured crisps were as unappetising as they sound, we grabbed two whole chickens for under a tenner. Now 6 starving sunburnt gringos with a mountain of bags and a bag of chicken realise google maps is a liar and we are actually at least half an hour away! So we load on to a already full bus rather than pay the £5 taxi and stand awkwardly in the aisle loaded up like donkeys waiting for people to get off so we could park our bums in some seats. Asking the locals which stop we had to get off proved a group activity as they all got out their phones and discussed amongst the whole bus the best rout to take. When we finally all tumbled off the bus on to the side of the motorway we set off in the wrong direction walked about a bit over heating and then walked back to almost exactly where we were dropped off and found out house. Winner!! Finally able to devour the chickens that despite being dragged half way round Santa Marta were still amazing. We then headed to the local supermarket and grabbed the essential beers and breakfast where I managed to negotiate the borrowing of the troller to get us home. Despite this a guy followed us the whole way back believing we were on the rob. The boys who had gone to play football at the beach with the locals came back one by one with a variety of red faces and sandy backs. Looks like they had really been put through their paces. We head to the beach to try and catch the sunset but having faffed around missed it and instead sat on the beach until it got dark and we were sufficiently eaten by mosquitos. Another early night meant an another early morning where we went for runs and did some exercises on the beach. All before the rest of the house stirred. We then set out for the most stressful supermarket trip of our lives where we spent two hours trying to navigate our trolleys through the chaos of frantic Christmas shoppers stockpiling a months worth of food for the one day the shops would be closed. Now with a trolley full off bbq stuff and another full off booze we once again borrowed the trolleys followed closely by the same guy who clearly had nothing better to do. Finally home we unpacked to find we were missing 1 very large chorizo! This annoyed me more than it should of and was all I spoke about for the following hours, until bored of lying around procrastinating about a bloody chorizo I decided to go on the hunt for sun cream. But easily distracted me and Daisy ended up returning home manicured, pedicured and with inflatable Christmas presents. Some fajitas and beers at home and we decided to see what Santa Marta had to offer on Christmas Eve. After falling asleep on the bus and wondering around aimlessly looking for more food we were almost ready to call it a night as I fell asleep dribbling on a bar pillow. But a few rounds of tequila shots bought spirits back up and a few of us headed off in search of a good club we could all go too. We followed some locals to a busy square where suddenly a fight broke out as two groups began to attack each other. A knife was drawn and we realised this probably wasn’t our kind of party! Now considerably sketched out but away from the area we danced with the locals until it was time to take the party home. Now black out drunk I fell asleep by the pool outside verbally abusing anyone who tried to take away my drink or move me out of the sun. A quick power nap and I woke up Christmas Day an absolute mess! The few of us that managed to pull ourselves together realised we didn’t have a bbq for the planned Christmas feast. So we cooked the weirdest mixed cuisine spread ever. It consisted of an over cooked mushy potato salad, teriyaki salmon with more bones than fish, chicken and onions Mexican style, pasta pesto, salad and over cooked beef stakes so chewy they resembled beef flavoured chewing gum! So with no energy or hope left for the day we slept away our Christmas but rose still hungover and brain dead. Another crazy unproductive day and early night bought us to check out where we all said our goodbyes and me and Daisy headed off to Cartagena sad to be leaving out friends but happy to leave behind our hangovers!

Crazy collectivos to Camarones

So with Palomino not having much more to offer than lazy days at the beach we decided to head to a flamingo lake we had heard about. So an early start and we set out solo rather than booking an over priced tour at probably 50p more. This being the most authentic Colombian experience yet and by that I mean cramped, sweaty and sketchy throughout. So a 20 minute trip in a locals bashed up car with a smashed windscreen, no hand break and a hanging off gear stick. Four in the back and three in the front. We arrived at the closest town with a cash point, where I’m pretty sure a woman tried to rob me and Daisy. After the usual unsuccessful hunt for suncream we flagged down a collectivo (the locals chosen method of transport) where we squished over 30 people in a cramped pick up style vehicle. With people hanging from the outside and on the floor, we were feeling like illegal immigrants crossing the boarder as we passed the police and the seven people hanging from the outside launched themselves in so as not to be spotted. After an hour of sharing sweat with the locals we were dropped off in Camarones, where we were instantly bombarded with people auctioning off their boat trips to us. We picked one and headed of on our mission to see flamingos. The sail boat we were sold turned out to be a small wooden boat with a large tarp tied to it to catch the wind. Resourceful! The voyage was super chilled and once again we kicked ourselves for being so unprepared in the snacks and beer department. We saw a flock of flamingos a lot smaller than any of us expected and quiet frankly a bit underwhelming. But none the less a nice experience. After a disappointing fish lunch that consisted of a tiny red snapper with more bones than meat, an overly fishy shrimp rice and chewy lobster we all doubled up to make three each to a bike and headed off back to Camarones to try and find a regular bus back to Palomino. But failing that and keeping to our spontaneous ways we flagged down what we thought was a simple collectivo. How wrong we were. The driver had no idea of pricing and seriously undercharged us, seemingly picking a number out of thin air. Thinking we had struck an amazing deal we all jumped in ready to endure another sweaty cramped trip. After 40 minuets of driving the driver asked if we minded if we did a quick detour to his house to drop something off. We innocently agreed and ended up driving through a ghetto looking area where the driver, an old man and a twelve year old boy pulled the vehicle apart pulling buts and buts of what appeared to be petrol from secret stashes all over the car and in the seats. They even syphoned over 60 litres from the car itself and removed a suspiciously heavy cool bag. It was in this moment we realised this was no collectivo but a man with a car on a dodgy deal who saw an opportunity in us gringos and picked us up as a decoy and got conveniently waved past every police stop. We naively laughed the whole way back as they drove 20 minuets out of their way and dropped us off exactly where we asked, and with cheeky smiles on their faces collected £2 from each naive gringo. We left feeling like we had just been paid to be accessory’s to the mafia. But a half price journey at £2 instead of £4 we were all winners! That evening we set off to 7 Mares for an early dinner guaranteeing ourselves a table. The fish burger was divine and the curry tasty. Walking back out at 9pm where every table was now full we felt a sense of accomplishment.