Colombia - Our Trip Down

So our trip down to Colombia was anything but relaxing.  As a lot of you know, I was fighting a nasty cold before I left Kelowna so it made the trip down to Colombia a heck of a lot harder.  We left bright and early on Valentines Day for the first of 4 flights that day.  It took a total of 25 hours to get down to Santa Marta, Colombia.  Our route looked like this:

Kelowna to Calgary (1hr) --> Calgary to Houston (4hr) --> 5.5 Hour Layover à Houston to Bogota (5Hr) --> 6.5 Hour Layover --> Bogota to Santa Marta (1.5Hr)

During the Houston Layover

During the Houston Layover

By the time we were descending from our flight into Houston, my cold had turned into a full blown ear ache.  When we got off the airplane, I could barely hear anything!  My ear drums were so plugged.  Piet kept having to repeat himself over and over to get me to hear what he was saying and I couldn’t tell how loud I was talking so I was speaking exceptionally quiet,  our layover went something like “What Piet I can’t hear you”, “Babe Speak Up” “What” “WHAT” “WHATTTT”.  As you can imagine we were both beyond frustrated by the situation so we tried everything to try and get my ears to unplug.  We googled every possible solution- plug your nose, turn your head right, swallow, chug a bottle of water looking up at the sky, put Vicks in your ears.  I was a mess!!  Unfortunately, there wasn’t too much more we could do as we had to board the plane to go to Bogota so I stuffed some Vicks on a cotton ball and shoved it in my ears and took a few cold pills and hoped for the best.  Luckily, we both slept almost the full flight and when we landed it was like the cloud had lifted and I could hear again!!  I’m not talking 100% here but there was no more “What, WHATTTT” going on between us.

In Bogota we had to go through customs and collect our bags and recheck them for our last flight.  Customs was interesting because there was a separate line-up just for Canadians because we are the only country that has to pay an entrance fee!  And it’s not a small entrance fee either- it’s about $80 CAD per person.  From our understanding, this was put in a couple of years ago in some type of retaliation because Canada implemented that Colombians had to purchase a visa when entering Canada, they even call it a reciprocity fee!

We killed 6 hours in the airport, while being slightly exhausted and drained, and then boarded our flight to Santa Marta.  All went well until the descent when the excruciating ear pain came back.  Honestly for anyone who has never experienced it- it feels like your brain is exploding in your head.  Well we finally landed into one of the smallest airports we’ve ever seen.  We walked onto the tarmac and into this side door where there is one rotating belt for luggage in a very small room.  That’s it- that’s the arrivals area.  So bags started unloading, one by one, and one of our bags comes down and then soon enough there are no more bags.  We both looked at each other and thought how is that even possible- we have identical bags that were checked in at the same time.  So we go to find someone, who luckily spoke some English and she recognizes our bag- it came on an earlier flight!  I think we both let out a sigh of relief as we went to go chase down where they’ve put the bag now.  We happily found it and went to grab a taxi to take us to Taganga, a small fishing village outside of Santa Marta.

When Piet asked the airport staff if the taxis were safe I chuckled a little bit at first but I have to remind myself that he’s much newer to this than I am.  He had his phone out and was mapping the entire route the taxi took on google maps on our phone while I was looking at the sights- trusting the cabbie was taking us to the right spot.

We were dropped off at our hostel and it was nice and clean, with a large pool in the courtyard.  Our room is simple at best- ok for anyone who hasn’t really traveled in a developing country the room may be a bit shocking.  Our toilet seat actually comes right off and definitely doesn’t belong to the current toilet bowl (as you can see from the photos) and the shower is one temperature with one stream.  We may have even ran out of water for 15 minutes while the tank was refilling.  As odd as it sounds, all of this is familiar and normal to me when I’m traveling.  I’ve always been on a budget when doing these long trips and this is what you come to expect sometimes.  But for Piet, he’s only ever really been to Mexico and then Greece and Italy so he’s got nothing like this to compare to.  Everything is new to him, the only real sense of familiarity and taste of home we have is each other.

More to come on Taganga and what we thought of our first week in Colombia.