Our plan was to head north with Jim and Alina (and the Blue Quetzal- their Guatemalan Suburban) after the ferry ride, but not before we spent a couple nights exploring in Cartagena. We parked just north at a hotel with a big parking lot just north of the old city. It was perfect, we were walking distance from the best parts of the city and had a really sweet place to park right next to our friends. It was a kind of scary driving there at night after the ferry extravaganza, but once we were there we ordered a delicious dinner and hung out right next to the ocean. The next day we went and explored the old walled city of Cartagena.
April 24, 2015
The city is beautiful. I couldn’t help it, I kept thinking about the old movie Romancing the Stone with Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner. It is that romantic and old, and it didn’t disappoint! We had a blast roaming around the old walls and the inner city full of restaurants, shops and bars. We took a midday break and went back to explore some more. If we had more time we could have spent a week here. We liked it so much that we convinced our friends from home, Jen and Justin, to come visit before we end our trip.
Our first stop was near the Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona. We parked with with Jim and Alina near a tiny cluster of fishing shacks. The second night we stayed there we bought six robalo or snook fish off one of the fishermen. We built a fire, gutted and scaled the fish, stuffed them with garlic and butter and threw them on the fire. It was delicious! The next day we explored the national park, which is breathtaking, and then had another fire and cooked dinner right on the beach.
The next stop on our way north was the sweet little town of Cabo de la Vela. Our friends and us parked right off the main street in the middle of town right on the beach. It’s a funny little town, all hard packed dirt streets (at least for us since it was dry), and every house offered hospitality. We later learned that it was a tax break for each individual house to work as a hotel as well. It made the town super friendly and we had a great experience here. It is also a great place to explore the Guajira Peninsula. We drove up to the Pilon de Azucar, or the sugar pillar. it was my favorite beach that I have ever been to. The beach was beautiful sand with a gorgeous green pyramid of stone rising out of the ocean. For sunset, the four of us hiked up to the peak and shared a beer, it was a good day.
We kept plowing our way up north. It’s best to do this drive with a buddy and we were lucky to have such trusty friends, we had read about kidnappings and violence so better to travel in a group. We went full days of driving through deserts without seeing another car, much less a street sign. We followed the tracks that had been carved out of the sand by previous cars. At one point we got stuck in the sand and the Blue Quetzal saved us! We finally made it to the most northern point in all of South America, Punta Gallinas. It was pretty. The four of us were the only people up there, until a little girl walked by with her little puppy and another dog. She didn’t seem too concerned about us and ambled on, after Alina and I fawned all over her puppy.
The point is covered in cairns, little rock formations, so we decided to build our own. Then, after all of the stress and driving we just sat and watched the ocean. After awhile, we looked at each other and then decided to start south. We had made it north and left our mark. Now lets see the what the rest of this incredible country had in store!