Barranquilla carnaval in photos

I was lucky enough to be in Barranquilla for the first day of the 2013 Carnaval, though I had to fly home to New York the second day so I couldn’t participate in the rest of the week’s festivities. That one day gave me enough of a sampling of the event that I can’t wait to go back sometime and stay for the whole thing! We went to the parade and partied all day, then took a quick nap before partying all night. I caught a private shuttle at 7am the next morning without sleeping that took me straight to the Cartagena airport for my flight home. Continue reading

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Minca: the best place in Colombia I never planned on going to.

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Minca is one of those small towns that the Lonely Planet barely devotes a page to, so it was never part of my itinerary. I had barely even heard of the place until meeting Jay in Santa Marta, and it turned out that he owned a hostel up there in the Sierra Nevada mountains. After traveling with him and Susan to Tayrona, where I picked his brain about what Minca was like, I decided I should see it for myself and we decided to meet there in a couple days. Continue reading

Knockoffs in Santa Marta

I don’t know if it’s because it’s a beach town full of tourists seeking the comforts of home or what, but I found quite a few eerily familiar products and restaurants in Santa Marta.

First there was Carambolo, a frozen yogurt place that definitely seems based on the Pinkberry/Red Mango business model:

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It was delicious though, and froyo was exactly what we needed after a hot day getting lost in the local market and haggling over hammock prices. I also ended up learning a new word there: jengibre (ginger). Continue reading

Tayrona National Park Pt. 3: Sleeping in hammocks is overrated.

[This is Part 3 of my Tayrona adventure. Part 1 can be found here and Part 2 here.]

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So when I left off last I had been crowing about how I scored the last available hammock in the mirador for the night. I may have celebrated that victory a bit too quickly though, because those fancy hammocks are up at the top of this big rock formation and right over the water, and it was absolutely freezing once the sun went down! Plus, my amazing luck meant that it took until that exact day, nearly two weeks into my trip, for the traveler’s sickness to hit and that was the furthest area from the camp restroom. It also meant a somewhat treacherous climb in the dark over slippery rocks. (Seriously guys, bring a flashlight, no matter where in Tayrona you end up staying.) Continue reading

Tayrona National Park Pt. 2: Arrecifes to Cabo San Juan

[This is part 2 of my Tayrona adventure. Part 1 can be found here.]

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After taking leave of our horses at the end of the trail, we walked through a small campsite until we got our first view of beach, Arrecifes. It was absolutely beautiful, the most breathtaking scenery I had seen so far in Colombia. The beach was surprisingly still and quiet, probably owing to the fact that the currents there are too dangerous to swim in so people don’t tend to stay there. There are big signs proclaiming this fact: Continue reading