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Ruby and Marcello's travel blog


COLOMBIA | Sunday, 25 December 2011 | Views [790]

The hostel in Cali


We stayed in a hostel that was only a couple of months old and it was quite luxurious. One of the guys who owned the hostel (a Scotish guy who was terribly worried about whether the business would survive or leave him broke) said that when he bought the house a year ago it looked just like something out of Scarface- the home of a druglord. It didn't look far off it when we were there either. There was a sauna, a turkish bath, a pool, large garden, a crazy Spanish chef (the other owner of the hostel) who had given up working in restaurants because he wanted to cook only what he felt inspired to cook. Our dinners were usually accompanied with comments from him abouut how there waas no fat and the way that he cooked things. Whenever there was pasta he apologised to Marcello.

On our departure the Scottish owner thrust a handful of flyers for the hostel into my hands and not so much requested but demanded that we spread the word about the hostel

The Chiva bus and Salsa club in Cali


Ok so apparently Cali is the capital of Salsa in South America and people from Cali have their own twist on Salsa-ing (according to our Salsa teacher- there were free classes at the hostel).

A Chiva bus is equivalent to a party bus that we’d have back home- but with less regard to personal safety and responsible service of alcohol. These are buses, sometimes with no wall and sometimes simply with no windows on which people dance (generally salsa) and get drunk (generally on bottles of rum which they pour down their throats in between dance moves) while the bus drives around town. This particular bus didn’t have alcohol provided on the bus so after about 10 minutes we made a pit stop so everyone could buy alcohol to loosen themselves up. Now trying dance salsa is hard enough, add a drunk crazy crowd of Colombians and put the dance floor on a moving bus and you have an experience that is crazy/fun/dangerous. Apparently people have fallen out of the buses with open sides and when that happens it “gets weird” as a local told me.

After a few hours the bus dropped us off at a salsa club which was equally fun- however the people on the dance floor meant business and we were a bit too intimidated to try our moves.


Salento is a gorgeous little town in the coffee growing region. Our hostel had its own coffee farm and they provided free coffee for everyone (but it turns out the coffee they provided was from the supermarket). In light of the free coffee most people consumed 2-5 cups per morning and everyone would talk VERY fast to each other. Was quite amusing actually. 

So I finally found something that I’d done before and Marcello hadn’t- horse riding. We went for a 3 hour ride which was another crazy/fun/dangerous experience. Firstly no helmets were provided (standard Latin omission). To add to this our guide spoke no English and simply pointed at each of us then at a horse then helped us get on our respective horses. We were provided instructions for left, right and stop (pulling the reigns in various directions).


Marcello’s horse bucked a few times which was slightly concerning but he soon discovered how to make his horse gallop and spent a majority of the ride galloping at the front of the pack.

In the end we both had a great time galloping along the main road that leads back into the town and at one point Chel did start singing Rhinestone Cowboy.

On our first night at our hostel in Salento, just as we were going to sleep we were startled by the sound of the guy in the room next door being violently ill. This continued all throughout the night and was a pretty horrendous noise to try to sleep to. Turns out he had an Amoeba which he’s gotten from eating contaminated food. Not only did he have a terrible bug in his gut but it had perforated his gut wall ad gone into his liver. On our second day there (turns out it was his 8th day of suffering) his girlfriend freaked out a bit because she thought it may have gone to his brain. Luckily we only had to endure the vomiting one night as his doctor changed his medication the following day.

Our new laptop

While in Bogota we bought ourselves a laptop. It’s great to have our own computer but the only problem is that the operating system is in Spanish. This is an absolute pain in the ass but we are stuck with it unless we upgrade our version of Windows.

The Caribbean coast

While we were in Santa Marta we went to a Botanic Garden down the road from our hostel and walking along the path to get there we came across a snake (luckily it was dead) and when we got into the park there was sign warning about harmless snakes (grass snakes and boa constrictors) and dangerous ones (rattle snakes and coral snakes). Nice! Luckily we didn’t see any live snakes however we did see some iguanas!


Also while in Santa Marta we took a day trip to a beach called Bahia Concha. We were told that of the nice beaches in the area it was the easiest to get to. To get there we had to get a 10 minute taxi and then a mototaxi or truck for another 15 minutes dwn a muddy track to get to the beach. We thought mototaxis were similar to Tuk Tuks (as they had been in Ecuador) but it turns out they were motorbikes. On the way back from the beach, my bike had an accident and the driver and I both came off the bike. I grazed my knee, burnt the back of my leg on the exhaust and hit my face on the handlebar- but I am ok. After this happened we got back on the bike and continued the trip back to the hostel but the driver took a completely different route through an area that I’d never been to before and that made me very uneasy as well. Marcello’s driver had taken this alternate route as well and he too was uneasy (we were separated by about 10 minutes because of the accident). Needless to say we were both very relieved to be reunited and promised each other there would be no more motorbikes.


The following day we went to Tayrona National Park. This is essentially jungle and Caribbean postcard beaches (white sand, palm trees). On the bus there we met 2 young Colombian guys named Javier and Pablo. Javier is an English teacher so he practiced his English on us. The four of us had an incredible adventure getting to the campsite for the first night which included crossing a river which had crocodiles in it (turns out there were multiple rivers with crocodiles to cross to get to the last campsite), walking mid shin deep in mud and Marcello jumping on top of me thinking he was being attacked by a snake when it was actually just a tree branch. I think if we hadn’t been with Javier and Pablo I would have been a bit stressed out but they had a great outlook on the whole thing and described it as an adventure that we could share with each other.


At the first campsite the owners had a pet monkey. Not knowing it was a pet and thinking it could well have rabies we kept our distance but it was happy to pose for photos for us while it scratched it’s nuts and climbed all over our tent. The monkey then sat with one of the owners and was soon in his lap being patted and groomed. Marcello said that the man then started eating some eggs and fed the monkey eggs from his fork and then continued to eat from the same fork. The monkey also tried a bit of banana that was on the table but spat it out and continued with the eggs. Very odd.


We are now in Taganga which is a dusty coastal town FILLED with backpackers. We are here for Christmas and then we go to Cartagena.

Accommodation in Cartagena is heavily booked and overpriced and we are in the process of trying to secure a studio apartment in a nice area for the same price as a hostel private room.

On the 29th of December we will be getting a 5 day yacht cruise from Cartagena in Colombia across the Caribbean, through the San Blas islands, to Panama.

And so that’s all for now. I promise not to leave it for so long to write next time- especially now we have a computer!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Years to you all.

Missing everyone


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