December 18th, 2007 – by: AndySD
The beach at Santa Marta
The journey started with a taxi ride to the bus terminal which took about half an hour and was an experience in its own. The beginning of the journey went on this three lane road that technically had lanes but they seemed to be ignored by everyone. It was a free flowing race of taxis, motorcycles, and buses through this thriving riverside marketplace. People were weaving in and out and cutting each other off, no turn signals used of course. First there was the fish market with everyone carrying fish here and there and people gutting and cleaning the fish by the side of the road and the river, next to piles of rotting trash. There is only one way to describe the condition of the market, total and absolute squalor. Things were being sold from the wreckage of abandoned buildings that had at most three walls with trash, stray dogs, and little kids moving about everywhere.
The market place gave way to a a two lane road (in theory) with a lane of traffic each way for taxis, trucks, and buses, and a lane for motorcylces on each shoulder and one down the middle of the road. Throw in the occasional horse or mule drawn cart plodding along and it was really something. Amidst this chaos our taxi driver was passing people and several times he had to duck back into our lane before smashing into a mule or getting hit by a car. But we made it to the terminal and he definitely earned his money, about $6 for the 30 minute ride. Tickets for the bus were expensive at 25,000 pesos and when I asked if there was a cheaper bus the guy at the ticket window dropped the price to 20,000 without hesitation ($10). The bus was actually super nice with comfortable reclining seats, powerful air conditioning and tvs playing El Transportador, not bad for the 4 hour journey. When the bus reached Barranquilla, 2/3 of the way there most of the people got off save for two of us and 4 Colombians. Magically, they said there was a mechanical problem on the bus and they made us switch to another one since they probably didn´t want to drive the bus there with only six people. The other bus took two hours further before arriving in Santa Marta. Santa Marta is kind of a resort town, and apparently is packed with Colombian families on vacation. Nothing special here really, well except for that in the first six hours I was here I had five separate people offer me cocaine, marijuana, and prostitutes. They always start with nice friendly talk about where you are from and about Colombia and they lean in and say something like: so man, what do you want, coca, marijuana, sexo? I´ll be glad to be moving on. Tomorrow I am leaving to hike to the Lost City for several days through the jungle. Will update following the hike.