Those of you who work in PR, media, marketing, events or any area where you host clients, guests, etc. have undoubtedly heard the expression “hurry up and wait”. We’ve probably all experienced it at some point but Audrey and I are currently experiencing the most extreme case that I have ever encountered. In a nutshell, five weeks – yes, 5 WEEKS – and counting!
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a hardship as we’re in beautiful Santa Marta, which is in Colombia and technically in the Caribbean. But it was supposed to be a stopping point on our way to Aruba then Curacao. We expected to stay for a week or two while waiting for a weather window to sail the 260+ miles (as a crow flies) to Aruba but the winds have been blowing a steady 20-30 knots (or more) from the east, which is where we are heading. And, unlike most places we have travelled, these winds have blown unabated the entire time we’ve been here and, according to the latest forecasts, we don’t see a window anytime soon.
So, what do cruisers do when they are “waiting” in a relatively small town for a month or more? First, we check out the basics — grocery stores, markets, malls, banks, etc. and so far so good as Santa Marta seems to have almost everything we need – except a good marine supply store.
Next, we check out the restaurants, bars, arts and entertainment and, once again, Santa Marta gets a pretty good rating. We’ve found a number of restaurants that serve a good, inexpensive typical Colombian “almuerzo” (lunch), which includes soup, entrée and a drink, for $4 or so. We’ve also discovered Parque de los Novios (boyfriend/girlfriend park), which is a small park that’s surrounded by “hip” restaurants and bars and a great place to hang out at night. So far, we’ve tried, Ouzo, Hemmingway’s, Radio Burger and nearby Crabs but there are lots more waiting to get our pesos.
Arts and Entertainment has been a little more challenging as it’s a small town so options are limited. There’s a small gold museum and a hacienda dedicated to Simon Bolivar, the revolutionary credited with independence in Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, Ecuador and Peru, but we haven’t visited them yet. There’s also Parque Bolivar where they host events on weekends. We were there once for a rock concert but, frankly, the band was so bad we had to leave but we still keep our ears and eyes open in case someone good plays in the park.
After the basics, restaurants, arts and entertainment we start looking at local tourist attractions and Santa Marta has a few. The main attraction is La Cuidad Perdida, the Lost City. It’s a centuries old city that was discovered in the Colombian jungle in 1977 that is supposedly in impeccable condition. Unfortunately, the only way to get there is a 5-day hiking excursion that involves 2-days of hiking to get there, 1 day of visiting the city (which we have been told is really just a couple of hours), then 2-days of hiking to get back. Now, I like seeing ruins and history as much as the next guy but there’s something about 5-days of hiking in 90-100 degrees, sleeping in hammocks, and eating rice and patacones for breakfast, lunch and dinner that doesn’t really appeal to me. So, unless Audrey forces me to go under the threat of violence, we have no plans of visiting that particular attraction.
Another local attraction is a small village named Taganga, which is primarily known for dive excursions. We’re not divers but we did go there for a lunch on the waterfront. Let’s just say it was a pretty good lunch but it was obvious that the main attractions are under the water.
The other major attraction is Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona, which we have visited. It’s a 15,000 hectare, protected reserve that is recognized by UNESCO for its preservation of the biosphere. It has hundreds of species of fauna and flora as well as tigers, armadillos, turtles, a variety of reptiles and some near extinct animals. It also has some beautiful beaches.
Of course, even this list is not long enough to keep anyone busy for five weeks so we enjoying many happy hours and dinners with our friends Mike and Holly, who are also on their sailboat heading to Aruba. We’ve also been “adopted” by Stewart, a local helicopter pilot, and his family and friends who not only love to host Sunday Roast and Thursday Curry but showed us how to get into the Colombian military’s national recreation centre, which is on the beach and has a nice swimming pool – although you are required to wear swim caps.
We’ve also joined an awesome gym that overlooks the marina and the Caribbean Sea. And, yes we actually go almost every day – when we haven’t had happy hour, Sunday Roast or Thursday Curry the night before!!!
As you can tell, Santa Marta is a beautiful place and we are having a great time “waiting” but we do hope to get to Aruba and Curacao eventually…