After Cartagena, we went to Taganga, a village 15 minutes by bus or taxi from Santa Marta, about 4 hours east of Cartagena.
Santa Marta is trying to attract some of the tourism that comes to Cartagena. We saw one cruise ship there. Taganga was a small fishing village, but in the past year has become more and more popular as a backpacker's place and dive centre. They were paving the street in front of the beach while we were there, and there are plenty of bars and discotheques, but if you go one street up from the beach, it calms down, and two streets up you get the sound of shops blaring vallenato music at all hours, roosters crowing at all hours, etc.
The seafront in Santa Marta. You can see the size of the cruise ship on the left.
The little girl with her hands in front of her face asked me to take their picture. This was in a small back street.
Santa Marta wants to compete with Cartagena for the tourist trade
The most popular tourist area is around the cathedral
Yes, we went swimming every day. In Taganga the water gets deep quite quickly so the water is cooler than in Cartagena, for example. There are also beaches around Santa Marta, where it's shallower for longer, so the water is warmer. Just over the hills are other beaches where the water is very clear and you can snorkel. Taganga is also a scuba diving centre.
However, in Latin America people are not so concerned with environmentalism and even in beautiful beaches further along the coast where we went on excursions, there are plastic bags floating in the water. There are also jellyfish. But there is not a single garbage can along the beach in Taganga, for example, whereas there are lots of people. One end of the beach is for swimming, the other for the fishermen's boats.
Rainy season ended in November, although we had a couple of downpours. Given that much of the vegetation is cactusy, I think it's always quite dry there. There are water problems in the village.
Bixa, the arepas in the back of the pic are brown on one side, so I guess the ones in front are still uncooked on the top. The flour used is really white, so they stay white. I admit I find them absolutely tasteless but my husband really liked them and we were served arepas at breakfast nearly every day in Taganga.
I can't say which place I liked best. We spent the most time in Taganga with family and friends, so I suppose that would be an unfair bias. It was a real vacation -- just poking around, reading, going for a swim and an occasional outing somewhere.
More splendid treats BJD! Again,so reminds me of parts of the Yucatan although,20 years ago. I love that you went swimming everyday. This is a real treat,thanks so much.
As an aside,the Carribean colors I have always loved,four years ago when we did our massive renovation we went with several of the pastels. One can certainly get away with it here. They have proven to be very soothing,particularly in the heat of the summer.
You have absolutely sold me on Colombia, bjd, although I was mostly sold already, along with Argentina. I am also beginning to take an interest in Brazil, albeit not necessarily Rio (which I will not at all boycott when I get to that country).
Bjd, it's hard to express just how much I am enjoying this thread. I put that in the present tense because I've returned to it several times to really take it in. Of course it is informational in that your pictures convey so much. But it's your comments and deft touch in putting everything into context with the great photos that really make this thread and your other two threads on Columbia so extremely interesting and enjoyable.
I particularly appreciate that you show how a place can cater to tourism, yet retain its identity and the charm that brought tourists there in the first place. I've laughed up my sleeve so many times on LPTT at the naive queries for "completely unspoiled" places by people who obviously have done little or no traveling. They forget they'll want atm machines, a not-too-3rd-world place to stay, and probably burgers, too.
Also, thank you for your thoughtful answers to each and every question. To me, that is one of the great boons of this kind of report -- it's like sitting next to a friend on the sofa and getting on-demand explanations of the travel pics.
And I've said it before, but ..... I love your photographs. You really have an eye for composition, color, interest, etc., creating photos that not only are informative, but can stand alone because they're so good. Please accept my applause for this fabulous three-part visit to a place that barely existed in my mind before.