Donkey Crossing

Welcome to Donkey Crossing! Donkey Crossing is an on-line account of one Limey and one Yank living one Dream. From September 2006 until the end of 2007, we plan to visit friends and family on five continents and immerse ourselves into various cultures, natural phenomena and ways of life. We hope you enjoy our tales and visit often! Cheers, Jason and Rachel Napoli

Friday, November 17, 2006

Beach Blogging

Originally our next destination after Bogota was to be Cartagena, the historic and beautiful coastal city. However, upon discovering that our arrival coincided with two major local events - the Miss Colombia pageant and a public holiday recognizing the independence of Cartagena - we switched to Plan B: heading east towards Tayrona National Park. As it turned out, we enjoyed a flavor of the festivities during the taxi ride from Cartagena airport to the bus terminal. We drove through vibrant neighborhoods of tin roofed homes with locals seated in plastic chairs in front, some socializing, enjoying cool drinks, braiding hair, and all smiling and laughing.

The streets were alive with activity; it was clearly party time. Youngsters approached our cab at every turn. Some had painted their skin black, others were in costume. Cross-dressing seemed to be a favorite, perhaps in honor of the beauty pageant? The revellers banged on our roof, threw water at the car and watched us watching them. The vibe reminded me of New Orleans during Jazz Fest: hot, colorful and fun.

A four hour bus ride took us to Taganga, just east of Santa Marta, and the gateway to Tayrona National Park. Taganga is a basic fishing village which has found itself catering to tourists who come for beach, sun and fried fish. On this holiday weekend there were, of course, a throng of Colombian tourists in Taganga.

Wilson, Taganga´s only barber, gives Jason a buzz cut .

Playa Grande, the principal beach, is set in a pretty bay at the foot of healthy-looking green hills. We soaked in the scene from a pair of chairs offered by a friendly local, in the hope that we would eat lunch at his wife´s makeshift fish restaurant later. As we sunbathed, vendors selling anything and everything we could have possibly needed came by. We were offered jewelry, shrimp ceviche, inflatable rafts and toys, snorkeling gear, fried corn with cheese, ice cream, beach dresses, fluorescent fishnet trousers, coconut sweets, fruit juice, sunglasses, gum, banana boat rides and even an all-over body rub with tan-enhancing coconut oil. The crowd of beachgoers was a mixed one: young, old, dark, light, skinny, plump, real breasts and fake breasts (Colombia is internationally renowned for it's plastic surgery). The only type absent were foreigners: we were possibly the only ones there.

On our third day, we escaped the pleasure seeking masses in favor of a fishing trip with Captain Caracol (literally Captain Sea Snail) and his first mate, Jose. We caught two a piece within our first hour at sea, but the beginners luck didn´t last and our next few hours proved fishless.

Captain Caracol (left) and first mate Jose: expert fishermen and our guides for the day.

We dropped anchor in a quiet bay, and Jason and I snorkeled while Jose cooked up the catch in a delicious fish stew. Hmmmm - tasty!
The tranquility of our excursion evaporated, replaced by the noise of holidaymaker fun as we headed back to Taganga bay. Music blasted from gigantic speakers as beer was chugged and fish fried in the kiosks. Children laughed and played on swings and on the boardwalk, boat engines hummed and horns honked. Like an orchestra warming up, Taganga´s loud and disparate noises blended together into a natural soundtrack. A holiday weekend at Taganga is truly a happening.

The next morning we headed further east into Tayrona National Park. The accommodations in the park ranged from hammocks covered with a piece of plastic sheeting, to fancy stilted "Ecohabs" with luxury amenities, but there were no options in between. Needless to say, we´re enjoying our Ecohab and it´s remote beach location to the full.Carñaveral beach, where we´re sunbathing as I write, is the perfect antidote to the urban chaos of Bogota and the coastal chaos of Taganga.

Time for another cold Aguila beer, I think. Cheers!


Blogger MidWestCowboy said...

i would have gone with the hammock and plastic sheet...those 'ecohab's' looked a little dangerous...what if you fell out of the queen bed, down the spiral soft-sanded stairs, and onto the sandy beach???
miss you!!!

7:08 PM  

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