Countries Visited

Svalbard Spain United States of America Antarctica South Georgia Falkland Islands Bolivia Peru Ecuador Colombia Venezuela Guyana Suriname French Guiana Brazil Paraguay Uruguay Argentina Chile Greenland Canada United States of America United States of America Israel Jordan Cyprus Qatar United Arab Emirates Oman Yemen Saudia Arabia Iraq Afghanistan Turkmenistan Iran Syria Singapore China Mongolia Papua New Guinea Brunei Indonesia Malaysia Malaysia Tiawan Philippines Vietnam Cambodia Laos Thailand Myanmar Bangladesh Sri Lanka India Bhutan Nepal Pakistan Afghanistan Turkmenistan Tajikistan Kyrgyzstan Uzbekistan Japan North Korea South Korea Russia Kazakhstan Russia Montenegro Portugal Azerbaijan Armenia Georgia Ukraine Moldova Belarus Romania Bulgaria Macedonia Serbia Bosonia & Herzegovina Turkey Greece Albania Croatia Hungary Slovakia Slovenia Malta Spain Portugal Spain France Italy Italy Austria Switzerland Belgium France Ireland United Kingdom Norway Sweden Finland Estonia Latvia Lithuania Russia Poland Czech Republic Germany Denmark The Netherlands Iceland El Salvador Guatemala Panama Costa Rica Nicaragua Honduras Belize Mexico Trinidad & Tobago Puerto Rico Dominican Republic Haiti Jamaica The Bahamas Cuba Vanuatu Australia Solomon Islands Fiji New Caledonia New Zealand Eritrea Ethiopia Djibouti Somalia Kenya Uganda Tanzania Rwanda Burundi Madagascar Namibia Botswana South Africa Lesotho Swaziland Zimbabwe Mozambique Malawi Zambia Angola Democratic Repbulic of Congo Republic of Congo Gabon Equatorial Guinea Central African Republic Cameroon Nigeria Togo Ghana Burkina Fasso Cote d'Ivoire Liberia Sierra Leone Guinea Guinea Bissau The Gambia Senegal Mali Mauritania Niger Western Sahara Sudan Chad Egypt Libya Tunisia Morocco Algeria
Map Legend: 28%, 75 of 263 Territories

Monday, November 16, 2009

Go North, Young Travelers

From Bogota, we took an 18 hour overnight bus to the northern coast. We had heard great things about Tayrona National Park--supposed to have beautiful white sand beaches and nice forest in abundance--so that's where we headed. As advertised, it was lovely. To the pictures.

Tara took this flower picture on the walk into Tayrona National Park. Not sure what kind of flower (looks like a crazy orchid), but she took a really nice picture.
We had to hike for a couple hours to get to he beach. It wasn't the hardest hike, but it was about 100 degrees with humidity near 100%. And I had told Tara that it would be a nice walk, so Tara was less than ecstatic. Here she is very happy to finally make it to the ocean, though.
While hiking, we saw these neat red bugs. Let us know if you know what they are. I thought about picking one up and/or tasting it, but it seemed potentially dangerous.
A view of the mountain from the beach. We didn't know it at the time, but the next day we had to hike to the top of it.

I like this picture because a.) the rocks are cool, and b.) I have a terrible grimace on my face because I was staring almost directly into the sun as Tara told me to smile.

Tara and I have this unspoken competition to see who can get closer to animals that don't like being approached for close-up pictures. I admit that Tara did a nice job getting about 2 inches from this grasshopper without it bounding away.

The return of the hammocks! For regular readers of our blog, you may have found yourself thinking, "Didn't they buy hammocks about three months ago? Have they done anything with them?" The answer: Yes, we did buy hammocks, but all we've done is carry them. The funny thing is that in the National Park, it was quite a bit more just to string our own hammocks than it was for a decent room in Santa Marta, the nearby city.
All over the national park, they have land crabs. I had only seen big ones like this in Mexico, and they are sort of freaky since there are hundreds of them all over staring at you, but they go down their holes as soon as you get close. This is a blue one, but red ones are also common.

After staying overnight in our hammocks, we set out on a different route to take us back to the main road. On the map, it seemed much shorter (and distance wise, it was). However, as we started the first trail by going through a little cave, we realized that it might be a tougher trail. 45 minutes in and we both looked like we had just come out of the shower.
But the trail had lots of great fungus! I love fungus. Colorful, fun shaped, easy to photograph. Here is my favorite. Looks almost like a coral, but it's a fungus about one inch tall.

Along the trail, Tara spotted a frog. It is fairly rare that Tara spots anything on the forest floor, so we stopped for her to take a picture. She did manage to get fairly close to it, though I won't pretend it is anywhere near as cool as my frog below. Looks about right for frog juice, though.

Later on the trail, I found this little poison dart frog. I had trouble getting a good picture of him, but this one isn't bad. After finding him, I looked hard for others, but couldn't find any more.

After my lovely frog, Tara tried to compete by finding this almost as interesting caterpillar. We think its head is on the left, but we weren't really sure.

On our long and strenuous hike, we had the chance to use our water filter for the first time ever in nature. Most of the time, we just use a sink and filter it, but this was straight out of the stream! Hasn't killed us yet.

We finally came out of the woods near the end of the hike and had a great view of the valley below. This doesn't capture the panoramic nature of the scene, but gives you an idea. Also, we were happy to be out of the woods after a much longer hike than we expected. At this point in the day, we had sweated more than some Americans sweat in a lifetime.
Back in the town of Santa Marta before catching a bus to Cartagena, we had to take some pictures of the great Christmas decorations. Colombia really like Christmas, and they don't have Thanksgiving to start the season, so they start with Halloween.
And what would Santa be without trust Rudolph? They had these all over the city. Really great, especially when they would have fake snow as you are walking along the beach in the 100 degree weather.

On to Cartagena! The most colonial city in architecture in South America, and certainly one of the most touristy as well. The city really is lovely, but prices are about twice as high as the rest of Colombia. Here is the main cathedral. Hard to get a good picture.

This is the clock tower of Cartagena. Tara told me it is famous, but we traded our guidebook, so I can't look up what makes it so famous, and I'm too lazy to Google it. So, I'll guess that it's the oldest clocktower in South America. That or it was used by Marty McFly to go back in time.

I pointed out to Tara that this sculpture looks a lot like Harry Potter. We appreciate any city that puts up a sculpture of Harry Potter.

Cartagena was sacked by raiders about 30 times. Okay, less than that, but the whole city is surrounded by walls with canons and towers from which to shoot people. Here is Andy standing on the wall of the city.
Here is one of the forts to protect the city. We can't say how effective it was at keeping out enemies, but it successfully kept us out by trying to charge $8 to get in. In most of South America, we could have bought the whole fort, or at least rented it for the day, for less than $8.
I have to guess that part of the reason the city was captured so many times is that the moat just wasn't deep enough or wide enough. Really, look at it and ask yourself if it would keep you from storming the walls.

A lovely colonial street of Cartagena. Tara is especially in love with the azaleas that grow everywhere here. You can see them on all the balconies.
They have a shaded walkway here called "Portal de las Dulces" where vendor after vendor sells homemade candy. All the vendors are basically the same, but the concept is still fun. And they sell these amazing coconut candies that you will see in the food post.
Well, that's northern Colombia. Santa Marta and Tayrona were very nice and also affordable. Cartagena is also very nice, but much less affordable compared to most of South America. Still, for a couple of days, it has been a nice place to stay. Now, we off to spend our last night in Colombia celebrating the fiesta that is occuring here... For what? Who knows. But it seems to be a really big holiday.

(Note from Tara: It's the independence of Cartagena, silly! Four days of partying.)

1 comment:

  1. This made me realize that anything I already knew about Colombia, I knew from watching Romancing the Stone. Thank you for widening my world!