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.
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.
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!
So after two little local busses we have arrived in Palomino, although we were none the wiser as we were ushered off the bus on to a dusty street so insignificant we could have driven passed! So we were here, no hostel booked and no internet only the knowledge that there is a hostel called Casa Giada somewhere. A hostel that we chose because it has the same name as our third musketeer from back home Giada. So starving hungry we decided the wisest move would be to stop for food piggy back on their WiFi and google some directions. A relatively nice looking place had a set menu for £2.50, winner winner fish for dinner! Only it wasn’t, first to come out was a pond water looking soup with various unidentifiable bits of fish and beans floating in it. As unappetising as this looked to save face and not look rude I spoon by spoon soldiered on but even I, who never leaves a plate unfinished could only stomach half! It was without fail the worst soup I have ever eaten! And my mum used to make nettle soup! Next was a fish dish so over cooked it turned in to some sort of flakey sand in my mouth, served with a sickly sweet brown rice and arepas (corn cakes) swimming in grease. I should have known then that a trip to the toilet on the way out would be as disgusting as the food. There was no door, toilet roll or space to enjoy my wee. I noticed a shower above the toilet proving this was also where the poor souls who inhabited this hostel washed! So happy to see the back of the place and now armed with directions to Casa Giada we set off hoping this experience would fade rapidly to a bad memory. We passed so many run down looking hostels that had looked like lovely places online, slowly growing fearful that Casa Giada would be the same. We walked with rucksacks sweating to our backs to where google maps suggested the place was. Only to find ourselves in the middle of nowhere on the other side of a large hedge to the hostel. A quick unsure trip through the barren woods found us once again apparently outside! After ditching Daisy on a dusty track with the bags. I set off to find this place once and for all, all the whilst hoping it would be our sanctuary in this shitty place! I asked some builders working on a property near by, where they looked at me as if I was asking for their shoes! That’s when a women popped her head out the building directly in front of them explaining this was Casa Giada. Not much from the outside but with a familiar friendly feel and name about it. But most of all cheep dorms with empty beds, probably because nobody could find the place!
The night bus to Santa Marta was a killer where lacking a pillow I woke up with my book propped under my head and a seriously crooked neck! We didn’t even leave Santa Marta terminal and just jumped straight on a bus to Taganga where we stayed for two nights at Nirvana hostel the sister of the hostel in San Gil meaning discounts!! For two days we blended in to the sun beds and embarrassed ourselves playing pool with our new Aussie mates, where we sank more beers than pool balls. The food has been amazing here the first day we went to Babaganoush a Turkish restaurant with the most amazing view and beautiful food! The following day bored of small talk and feeling pretty unsociable, we instantly regretted agreeing to go for a bike ride with the Aussies so instead snuck off in search of a place high up to view the sunset. We walked up the closest mountain but always seemed just one more corner away from the perfect view, after walking for a while some police on bikes stopped us to inform us that we were walking towards a very dangerous area! Sounds like we dodged a bullet and turned back content with a half view but still in possession of our cameras and bags. That night we had a very indulgent dinner in Pachamama a french restaurant at the end of the road! The food was amazing and we were serenaded by local musicians throughout the meal! We then went back to the hostel revived and ready to drink some beers and play some cards. We taught our Aussie friends how to play Irish snap and spoons but after a few rounds and some seriously bent spoons we realised we were all too aggressively competitive to continue so we retired to bed excited for the national park tomorrow!