Sunday, 30 December 2018

Colombia - Santa Marta, Tayrona National Park and Beach BBQ

Santa Marta and Tayrona National Park

Colombian critters


                     

Pic 1 - one of the many feral cats in Santa Marta, though it anywhere in the Caribbean. Pic 2 If you look in the sky you will see numerous flying insects.  You're need a better camera and photographer to do justice to the hundred of dragonflies hovering over the marina.  Not having much Spanish, I pointed to the dragonflies while looking puzzled and the security guard said, 'Prima vera.' So these were 'first day' or newly hatched dragon flies.  It was quite amazing to see and happened twice to my knowledge while we were there. Pic 3 - Horses in  Tayrona National Park  though you often see horses being used for hauling carts outside the city centre. Pic 4 - Ants busily carting away neatly cut manageably sized leaf fragments. Pic 5 - One of many that got away - a tiger stripped butterfly moving on to the next flower. Pic 6 - Critters that one might see in the park... but we didn't. Pic 7a and b - We, unlike some took notice of the warning but didn't actually see any until eagle-eyed Tim spotted one through the shrubbery at a rest stop.  The arrow points to her head and we know it was a lady alligator because we could see at least three babies with her.


         

The park has a number of trails and we walked just over 3 km, over rocks, up and down steep paths and finally into the water at the beach at the end of the trail.  The park was a great experience.  It is good to know that there are protected places for the indigenous people.  The park will soon be requiring visitors to be vaccinated for Yellow Fever. This is not to protect the visitors, it is to protect the indigenous people who have begun to contract yellow fever from mosquitos infected by visitors,

Colombia has opened its borders to over a million Venezuelans.  I wanted to know more and found this video  Vox Borders - Why Colombia has taken in 1 million Venezuelans.

               

On one of our last days in Santa Marta, we were treated by the marina to a Beach BBQ in Tayrona National Park.  It was a beautiful venue under the trees next too a long curve of pristine beach.  To the left up the beach, gradually filled up with day trippers and day boat; To the right was left free for the local fishermen and the green parakeets.  A wonderful time was had by all.

Next stop for the Rally was Cartagena where we still are until the 3rd when we're once again on the move.  More about Cartagena very soon.




Sunday, 9 December 2018

Columbia is amazing.

Ola! This blog is very photo heavy and you can double click on most of them to see the original size.

We arrived in Columbia on the 1st of December.  The sail plan was to arrive at dawn to see the sunrise lighting up the Sierra Nevada snow tipped mountain tops, but weren't quick enough for that.

   

The Sierra Nevada mountains are the highest coastal mountain range in the world.  We might well have seen snow on the peaks but it was a long way off and might well have been wishful thinking. The Santa Marta Marina where we are staying at the moment is right next to the City of Santa Marta which is surrounded by mountains only a half hours drive away.

   

Santa Marta starts out slowly but by 4 o'clock it becomes a bustling vibrant city.  The evenings are full of music, late night dining, music, buskers, street food, music and just as busy as the afternoon rush hour.

1) Street Art 2) We discover an ice cream shop, which Tim firmly believes is the best ice cream he has ever had. Photos using the camera's timer are always fun to take. 3) We were never far from a fruit stall. 4) Freshly fried pastry wrapped cheese and pastry wrapped sausage. 5) Claudia, from SV Bruno's Girl, driving a hard bargain for a new hat 6) Locally made round bags and worn and used by locals and tourists a like.  I rather covet the bag in the front row with the turquoise pompoms though the most authentic ones are made of some type of wool in creams, greys and black.  7) More street food potato, meat and sausage kebabs cooked on the small grill in the fore-ground.  We haven't tried these yet, but there are lot varieties, and I'm sure we will.  

Last week we hired a car for two days and did some sight seeing.



On our first day out we drove up into the mountains to visit a waterfall and visited the village of Minca.  The walk to the waterfall was so interesting.  1) The stands of bamboo were spectacular, particularly when you see the size of them in a photo. 2) Farming in the relative cool of the mountains.  They were definitely growing lettuce and probably spring onions. 3) In the rainforest, even poinsettia is a tree you could stand under.





1) The approach to the waterfall passes by a bridge that, as the sign says, you are prohibited from passing.  Imagine my disappointment when I bellowed, 'YOU SHALL NOT PASS!' and got no reaction.  Even when I explained the reference (The Fellowship of the Ring, Mines of Moria, Gandalf vs the Balrog) all I got were blank looks.*sighes heavily* 2) I completely forgot my disappointment when I waded into the probably about 15C freshwater mountain stream.  Oh man, it was cold. in fact you can see by the look on my face. Very like the Atlantic off the Portuguese coast where I swam with my sister Laura and friend Susan so there are at least two other people who can appreciate how cold that is. 3) Once you are numb all over, it's actually quite pleasant.

We passed through the town of Minca without stopping on our way to the waterfall.  On our way back down we stopped for lunch at Asadero Camarita.  I suspect 'asadero' translates to 'meatery' as the menu was all about beef, pork and chicken served with a couple cold boiled potatoes and yucca prepared the same way.

          

1) The COP, Columbian Peso takes some getting used to. 20,000 COP is about 5 pounds sterling.  (My laptop has a US keyboard but I have set it to UK and I cannot find the 'pound' sign. Grrr.)  I opted for the Pork Ribs which were large with more fat than we are used to, but the fat kept the meat moist and tender and it was delicious with some fiery dipping sauce.  I rather regretted not getting the Llanera style meat.  I didn't realise then that 'meat' means beef, but kind friends shared so I did not miss out. 2) While we were waiting for our meals to arrive, I went to look at the kitchen. This gentleman, who is pictured at the top of the menu was cutting portions of blackened but still very rare meat.  The meat is first cooked/smoked in the oven you can see behind him.  3) He insisted that I come around and have a look in this oven where all sorts of meats were slow cooking over a wood fire.  4) The open grill at the front of the brick oven complex is where he finished cooking your choice of meat. 5)  The restaurant itself was pretty unusual with substantial benches and tables and the odd cow skull ornaments.  The floor was packed very uneven and looked like it had been carved by either wind or water and possibly both. 6) Opposite the brick cooking oven at the opposite end of the restaurant was the kitchen area of the proprietor's family. 7) The view out of the kitchen window. 8) My favourite decoration and last but not least, 9) the wonderfully ruffled cockerel and one of the chickens who roamed freely through the restaurant.  It was great and if I could visit there again, I would.

Our next stop on the way down the mountain was Minca.

          

1) This photo really doesn't do Minca's main street any justice. It is a bit rough around the edges but there were lots of little shops and cafes. 2) We had good Columbian coffee in the Lazy Car CafĂ© as well as brownies with ice cream topped with a glace cherry.  At the table is Tim, Rob and Francis from SV Alia Vita, me, Leanne and Dave from SV Perigee and Claudia's (who is kindly taking the picture) other half from SV Bruno's Girl, Phillip. 3) A shot from the other end of the table so you can see the floral. 4) And the fauna - the finest iguana that we have seen.  5 & 6) Minca's church. 6) examples from a lovely shop that used polished stones and macramĂ© to create beautiful necklaces and jewellery.

We bought fruit and vegetables from a small shop and then headed home most pleased with our days excursion. :)