So I left Medellín’s ideal weather and headed to the coast. I landed in the 90 degree humid weather of Cartagena, which is definitely a tourist town. Although it’s a Colombian tourist town more than it is an international tourist town. Some nice beaches along the coast, as well as the national park.
I didn’t love Cartagena. Too touristy. People trying to sell your drugs, girls, and hats on every corner. Plus I’m not really one for beaches. Still, it is one of those “old” cities that certainly has its charm.
Here’s the main entrance to the old town area. It’s guarded by the Torre del Reloj, or Clock Tower.
I found a cool bookstore and coffee shop to do some work in the old town area.
Cartagena also has a castle, Castillo San Felipe de Barajas. In the past, for some reason, people would want to conquer this place, so the castle was built. It’s a nice enough castle for South America, but it’s also super hot walking around there.
Here are a few more pictures of that old Spanish architecture.
That seemed like a lot to accomplish in a couple days, and I had had enough, so I decided to go to the nearby town of Santa Marta. It’s a bit smaller (but also touristy), and I decided to go ahead and sign up for a 4-day, 3-night hike through the Colombian wilderness called the Lost City Trek to Ciudad Perdida.
We had a diverse group: 2 Americans, 3 Germans, 3 Belgians, 3 French, 2 Australians, and 2 people from a French island near Australia. In the end, all but one of us would end up sick from improperly decontaminated water.
The first three days went really well and it was a lovely hike, so let’s start with that. It’s a city that was deserted a few hundred years ago because they had gold and kept getting plundered by the Spanish. After being rediscovered, they cleaned it up a bit and made it into a tourist destination. Here’s a bunch of pictures from the trip.
I didn’t take pictures the first couple days because my phone was off (I wanted to have enough battery power to take pictures at Ciudad Perdida and then get back to civilization). And then I was so sick on day 4 that I didn’t bother taking many photos, so that’s sad.
But anyways, the water parasites took me down pretty hard the third night and fourth day. After surviving that, I checked into the first hotel that I could find – which turned out to be a complete shithole (but it was like $23/night) – to try and recover. I think I was recovering from dehydration, exhaustion, sun stroke, and my water parasite, so I was essentially in bed for the next 2 days straight. That allowed me to recover from all but the parasite, so I gradually moved up to nicer hotels as I stayed in Santa Marta.
But I still couldn’t go very far or do much, even work. I didn’t eat much at all for two weeks, and it took that full amount of time to get back to semi-normal behavior. I don’t recall ever being sick and miserable for that long.
So I didn’t even make it to the beach or to Tayrona Park, which I really wanted to do while I was up there. But oh well. Next time I guess. I was able to catch my flight from Cartagena to Bogota to finish my recovery there. Hopefully, I’ll have enough energy to get back into the swing of things as I head down to Ecuador.