El Rodadero seemed to be the least dangerous area of Santa Marta. Perhaps this is because it might be the least visited by foreigners. Once we walked around town, we realized why. It seemed to be a locals only tourist destination. When we walked down the main beach, we were amazed at how many people there were and to be frank; how dirty it was. Families upon families were camped out next to each other and garbage was everywhere. At least while we were walking along the beach there were a few garbage men picking up the trash, but still! It was rather unbelievable. I wanted (desperately) to photograph it all, but I didn’t feel comfortable whipping out my DSLR on the beach amongst a lot of locals, so I kept it tucked away in my bag (or room). We left the crowded beach and found a smaller, less crowded, and much less dirty beach a little ways down and enjoyed the water and beach there instead. It was lovely to be on a beach again, but quite different from the beaches of SouthEast Asia and it made us question what fuels the difference.
Despite our love of 12 hour+ bus rides (kidding), we decided to fly from Medellin to Santa Marta instead. We weren’t totally sure if it was going to be smooth sailing, as we heard multiple stories of Viva Colombia! Airlines often canceling and delaying flights.
There was a lot of confusion within the airport itself, but we managed to land safely only about an hour later in Santa Marta. Much more convenient than a day (and night) on another bus.