It’s time for the beach now! We were headed for the northern, Caribbean coast of Colombia and got this “secret tip” from a few travelers: “go to Rincon del Mar“. We obeyed and took a bus to a tiny town before getting two motorbike-taxi (with our big backpacks casually laid in equilibrium over the handle bar) that took us to the Caribbean coast through bumpy dirt roads. We arrived in Rincon del Mar, a tiny fisher village that isn’t really on touristic maps yet, as there are just two tiny guesthouses plugged between fishermen’s houses.
We spent 4 days relaxing at the beach, not feeling guilty for doing nothing because that was the perfect place for it! There is honestly not much to do except for walking along the beach, bathing in the warm sea, reading in a hammock, and cooking delicious meals with the local seafood. Turns out that’s what we ended up doing most of the time. We finally had a kitchen at our disposal, with a giant plancha, and the neighbouring fisherman was more than happy to sell us what he had caught during the day. The first evening, we got some freshly caught langosta (lobster) that we grilled on the plancha with some herb butter. The next day we bought some octopus and decided to make a ceviche. A lady working at the hostel helped us and started taking all the delicious skin off while we weren’t looking. We saw it just in time to avoid having half of the octopus thrown away in the garbage. The local staff found it hilarious to see us eating the entire thing. Another evening, we got three different kinds of fish that we had to scale before cooking. Result was a kitchen covered with fish scales, but dinner was delicious!
It was actually fun to see all of the travelers putting a lot of efforts into cooking, and some tourists from the other hostel even mistook ours for a restaurant and tried to order some food after seeing everyone sitting outside eating their fancy meals.
The one activity we did during our 4 days in Rincon was a boat tour to neighbouring islands. We had to cancel it the first day because of an upcoming storm, and the next day we spent two hours staring at the sea until we decided to give it a try. During the first hour, we really regretted our choice, as the sea was very agitated and the waves kept shaking our little boat and drenching us to the bone. Luckily we made it through the rough weather and when we arrived at the first island we were greeted by the sun, beautiful beaches and crystal-clear waters.
After a little beach break we rode further to “the world’s most densely populated island”, which wasn’t much to talk about. Worse, the locals built small “pools” out of concrete and kept sharks and turtles trapped in there in order to attract tourists. We politely refused to look at them and quickly left.
We had already postponed our departure from this little corner of paradise for an extra day but it was time for us to head further north. We thus made it to the town of Cartagena, famous for being one of the biggest slave-trading towns in South America a few centuries ago, and famous today for its spanish colonial architecture. It is the most visited place in Colombia, which was easily noticeable considering the price of restaurants and the thousands of hucksters harassing you on the street.
The town’s architecture was beautiful though, and an impressive wall is still surrounding the old town (the only ones that tried to destroy it were the French but they failed miserably 😉 ).
To escape the tourist crowds we walked around in the Getsemani neighbourhood, previously famous for crime and prostitution but today a colorful nieghbourhood where art and hostel business flourishes.
Another thing to note about Cartagena is that it’s extremely hot. This combined with narrow stone streets, you feel like a slice of roasting bacon crawling around on the pavement, leaving a trail of melted fat behind you (sorry, that’s Quentin’s bacon-humor).
After a night in Cartagena we didn’t lose much time and left for our next destination: Minca and Tayrona national parks!