Colombia: Taganga: smelling the goats

I have been exceptionally lazy at writing on this blog, cheating instead by just uploading photos (cheated again, the one above is nicked off the internet) so here is an example of our days here in Taganga, on the Caribbean Coast of Colombia in South America. The word Caribbean can be rather misleading as you will discover when reading on.

A potent smell of urine wafting over the wall from the goat farm next door to our hostel and the honking and braying of their donkey at 6.30am woke us up and motivated us outdoors to the communal breakfast tables. Just had my breakfast; a measly portion of grey scrambled egg, half a spam frankfurter with fork holes in it (not eaten), some bizarre fruit which tasted of warm wax (not eaten) and a sugary piece of half baked cold toast (not eaten)……….. now starving. The young backpackers here think breakfast is great – what the hell do they eat back home?

We are going with an English couple today to nearby Santa Marta….. which apparently really is quite the complete and utter shithole with lots of thieves and people chucking broken bottles at tourists…. but there is no cash machine in Taganga so we have to go. Plus the English guy has been bitten all over his face by mosquitoes from sleeping in a hammock in the Tayrona National Park…and although I keep lying and telling him he looks fine….he really does look rather frightening (good old dependable Dave tells him so quite regularly)…we are going to get him some Caladroyl (like Calomine lotion) to take the swellings down and stop the itching. An alternative day out in London could be a trip to Borough market to buy fresh veg or to the new shopping centre in Shepherds bush with my girlie mates instead; lunching at Wagamamma noodle bar on Yaki Soba and Gyoza. I am salivating at the thought and feeling rather homesick.

There is a huge dog here called Ricky – he looks like a great dane but is allegedly some rare Brazilian breed. However, The Great Dane is now in Chains (was that in My Fair Lady at any point?) – he bit a Canadian girl last night (she was wearing the most ridiculous black trilby hat –she deserved to get bitten) – only nipped her on the wrist but it broke her skin – not good for the hostel business. …preferably better for a hostile business. The owner says he might build a big cage for the dog – I said just buy a bloody muzzle and let him wander around. Why the hell they have a giant biting dog on the hostel premises is beyond me. It scares the crap out of most of the guests. But Ricky still hasn’t bitten me (let’s wait for the next installment before we get too carried away) instead he follows me around slobbering on me…maybe I don’t smell of fear.

It really is too bloody hot here – I cannot move without sweating (undignified) and there are far too many mosquitoes than is acceptable (for a fair skinned English person) …and I am pining for a copy of the Saturday Guardian…but I still have some English teabags left so all is not completely lost. Whilst I lie in our darkened room with shutters closed and the fan on its highest setting, Dave is lying sweating profusely on a plastic sun lounger determined to get a healthy tan by the hostel swimming pool; which I must admit to being a fantastic treat in a hostel where we only pay £14 a night for our room with private bathroom.

But at this point I do feel my hostel days are over and for all the really bright, beautiful, intelligent young backpackers we meet (tons of tattoos – is that a traveler’s rite of passage?) there are also the many drunkenly stunned who are just travelling to shag. Oh god we must be feeling old, we are twice the age of most of the people we meet and are getting tired of being asked our advice…..or handing it out anyway whether welcome or not (…backpackers, stop persisting in walking around in bare feet – do you see the locals poverty stricken as most of them are walking without shoes? No; they don’t want to get worms or stand on broken glass and they think you are an idiot in your shoeless foolish wandering). It’s now over a year spent living out of our one Dakine wonder bag which has won admiration all over the globe; the end of the backpacking road is getting nearer and will be welcomed with open arms.

I crave roast chicken Yorkshire puds and gravy…. shops which sell something other than tourist tat and 100% polyester. We both dream about reading The Observer. I want to go to a hair salon and leave with glossy locks instead of pulling my broken Mexican hairbrush through a tangle of frazzled straw. I am desperate for a pedicure for my leathery travellers toes. We want to go to a gig (we missed out on Duran Duran who just played in Bogota of all places, greeted like heroes 20 years out of date). I want to see a good photography exhibition in a gallery which also sells mozzarella and basil Paninis in the cafe; we crave the movies, good food, Cadburys chocolate and the company of old friends. We have seen the most amazing sights and visited incredible countries, met friendly locals and grappled in the typical English like fashion with several foreign languages…still hopeless in all of them. We feel we are in a holding pattern until the 4th December when we fly from Cartagena to Bogota, to Miami to Los Angeles on the cheapest ticket travel day we could buy; 16 hours of changes and mad dashes between terminals and officials….and an inevitable grilling at US customs arriving from the drug cartel trafficking capitol of the world which is Colombia.

We are going to spend our last 10 days in Colombia in Cartagena back at Casa Relax with eccentric Frenchmen and parrots at the breakfast table. We will get the Marsol mini bus from Taganga on Monday and spend a return 5 hour journey munching on Ritz biscuits (if we can find this Holy Grail) with a driver pumping the failing brakes and accelerator simultaneously whilst he hurtles round corners and attempts to overtake 12 vehicles on a blind stretch of road.

…..but right now I am off to wash my straw like locks. Until next time …..I hope this has vaguely entertained for those still following us!

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