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Steve and Emma's Travel Tales

Life's a Beach on Palomino

COLOMBIA | Saturday, 24 November 2012 | Views [915]

With having left all our luggage, bar a small day bag, in Pelikan Hostal it was a joy to be travelling light and made getting on and of transport blissfully easy.  The collectivo to Santa Marta / Mamatoco dropped us along a main road where we flagged down a bus heading along the coast towards Venezuela.  Using these short, local hops meant for once travel seemed reasonably priced with the buses costing us P1400 and P8000 respectively.

Once we’d retraced our steps back to where the Lost City track leaves the road it was good to be travelling through new territory.  The road hugged the coastline in places and it looked like we were headed to a nicer beach than the one to be found in Taganga.  In Palomino the driver dropped us at the end of the track that would take us down to the beach.  It was only about a 15min stroll and reminded us of the track you walk down to reach Unawatuna Bay in Sri Lanka.  In fact the long stretch of palm fringed beach with pounding seas reminded us of Sri Lanka’s Tangalle coast line.  An auspicious start we thought.

There are only 5 places to stay on the beach and we ended up checking in to Playas los Marias slap-bang in the middle.  The place next door looked more back packer friendly but they only had dorms left besides which we got a friendly welcome at our place.  We were amazed when she said it would be P30 000 each as we’d read about one place on the beach and were expecting more like P70 000 a room.  Mind you this was still the most expensive room we’d had in Colombia.  The room, that resembled a stable conversion, was nice enough but had minimalistic furnishings and a terrible back and neck ache inducing mattress.  With it being off-season repairs / extension work was going on upstairs but we didn’t mind as you don’t spend much time in your room when at the beach.  BUT, did the workmen have to begin at 6am and right outside our front door?!

In fact the place was generally as noisy as the rest of Colombia and not the peaceful beach retreat we’d hoped for.  Along with the sawing, hammering and banging the dogs barked and whined periodically through the night and the rooms had so little sound proofing we could hear a baby squealing too.  Plus the uncomfortable bed compounded with the filthy, inefficient fan that didn’t whisk away the voracious mosquitoes meant we didn’t get much sleep.  Other than the girl who warmly greeted us with excellent English the rest of the staff were useless.  Now part of that is our lack of command of Spanish but whatever they speak up here sounds like nothing like we’ve heard to date.  Even pointing to things on the menu, written in Spanish, produced blank looks and it added to our frustrations.

So do I have anything positive to report?!  Well as I’ve said the area reminded us of Sri Lanka so that’s always a good start; however, other than initial impressions that’s where the similarities end.  There was very little choice in terms of eating options and everywhere was very expensive – in fact, we walked back to the village to pick up breakfast and picnic supplies.  Our place did excellent, reasonably priced pizzas that we ended up ordering both nights.  We were going to try one of the next-doors but were trapped in our place by a violent storm that knocked out all the power. The place to the far right, as you’re facing the sea, looked incredibly shabby and that’s the one whose prices we’d read about on the internet!  To the far left was a place where you could camp or rent a hammock for the night, which not surprisingly attracted the great unwashed.  Mind you they seemed to have water the morning following the storm which is more than we did.

All-in-all not a particularly enjoyable side trip as the weather was against us making the sea even too rough for Steve’s liking and there wasn’t enough sun to get our tans kick-started.  Not what you expect from the Caribbean coast but at least we’d not paid P39 000 a head entrance fee back along the coast at Tayrona National Park.  Surely the beaches in Central America have to be better than this.

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