Day 441: Our last day on Playa Blanca

We’ve been relatively lucky throughout this trip. No serious health issues (aside from stomach bugs in India, Andrew’s leg infection in Mozambique, and my reaction(s) to malaria meds in Uganda). No crazy transportation malfunctions (not counting our bus accident in Tanzania and losing our luggage for a week in Turkey). No wild robbery stories (except someone lifting my Polaroid camera in Nepal and someone taking Andrew’s camera that was forgotten in a hotel room in Prague). You may be wondering what’s wrong with me, for thinking we were lucky. But all of our hiccoughs along the way seemed trivial compared to stories we heard from friends, or friends of friends, or even what I envisioned happening when I was feeling particularly nervous.

And then, we get on a speedboat this afternoon to go back to Cartagena, and I find myself thinking This is it… This is when our boat falls apart and we’re stranded in the water, bleeding and sharks come to get us while our passports sink to the bottom and even if we are rescued, we miss our plane and then can’t apply for passports because all of our identification is at the bottom of the Caribbean… Because I’m pretty sure it was our “captain’s” first time driving a boat, and I’m pretty sure we were going entirely too fast. Either that, or he didn’t know how to drive a boat, because it was scary. I even asked Andrew where our passports were and then contemplated securing a life-jacket around the one backpack just in case… When we magically arrived back at the dock in Cartagena, we could hear passengers on other boats clapping and thanking their captain for their safe arrival. Everyone on our boat gave a meek “gracias” and scrambled off the boat as fast as they could. Or maybe that was just me… Either way, I was grateful for our arrival.

Day 440: Playa Blanca

Ok, so the cabana wasn’t as comfortable as we would have liked (even with the electricity upgrade) but the view was unbeatable. And, whatever sleep we lacked at night, we totally made up for in the afternoon. We relocated to beach chairs and an umbrella at the bottom of the ladder (up to our cabana) and sat or slept or read or swam for the rest of the afternoon.


After being on the move for fifteen months, a couple days like this at the end of our trip is beyond necessary. If you’re not a fan of fresh fish and coconut rice, Playa Blanca probably isn’t for you. Luckily, I couldn’t get enough of it. For dinner, we splurged on a lobster! Life. is. good.

Day 434: Getting into Tayrona National Park

Tayrona National Park is one of the ‘must-see’s’ of Northern Colombia. Everyone we met who was traveling from North to South (opposite of how we were traveling) raved about the park. From the start, we had plans on visiting and spending a couple of nights in the park. It’s along the Caribbean Coast, about thirty or so kilometers from Santa Marta (close to where we were staying in El Rodadero). Tayrona National Park prohibits cars after a certain point and you can get in and out of the park by foot, by horseback, or by boat. We heard trekking in was beautiful (lots of flora and fauna) so we opted to do that. Had we known the trek in would be as muddy and difficult (thanks to the previous few days of rain) we probably would have gone in on horseback. However, who can complain at the end of the day, when you realize this is what you trekked in for:

In Tayrona, there are three main oceanfront options to stay at. Arrecifes is the first. We were told it’s nicer (and pricier) but you can’t swim at the beach there (due to the deadly riptides). La Piscina is a small swimming cove in between without sleeping options. And El Cabo is where we were headed. El Cabo provides hammocks for rent, a campground, somewhat functioning bathroom facilities, and a restaurant with better dinner options than breakfast options. (If you’re going- bring your own cereal!) The trek wasn’t difficult at first. It was hot. and very, very humid. But other than that, not exactly hard.

Once we could see the ocean, our spirits were lifted and we felt like we were almost there! But, the trail then wove in and out. And little did we know, we still had a ways to go. Sometimes we’d be walking along the water, other times we would be in a palm grove like the one below. It began getting muddier and muddier the longer we walked.

And then, it got real muddy, and real hard. I don’t mind getting dirty, at all. I actually kinda love it. When I’m expecting it. The problem with our muddy trek in today, was that we weren’t anticipating it being hard or dirty at all. So, when our feet were sticking in inches of mud and we were slipping down small ravines, I wasn’t the happiest of campers.

Once I took off my shoes, it became a little easier to skip through the muddy ravine. The only drawback was that I couldn’t decipher what was mud, and what was horse poop. As soon as we got to El Cabo, we headed straight for the water.

The beachfront was beautiful, stunning really, but the water was full of natural debris. I think, because of the rain. We stayed in until we figured we should check in and then rented out two hammocks for the night. After we got settled and ready for bed before night fell, we walked around before dinner. Stunning. The whole area was as picturesque as everyone said it would be. Despite quite a few people camping or renting out hammocks, it was all very calm and relaxing. After our walk, we took naps (or read) in our hammocks and then enjoyed a fish dinner before tucking into our hammocks for the night. They were pretty wide and long, so I found mine super comfortable. They were strung up pretty close to each other though, so whenever my neighbor or myself moved, we would often bump into each other. And then, in the middle of the night it began to rain… and then pour… again. Thankfully, we stayed dry all through the night.