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The second story outdoor bar and patio.

The second story outdoor bar and patio at the Emerald Hostel.

From Cartagena 7 of our group headed north up the coast of Colombia to the quiet beach town of Santa Marta, about a 4 hour shuttle from Cartagena.  Upon arrival we sent out a search party to find us a hostel for our stay, since true backpackers don’t plan in advance.  After 4 hostels on 5 different streets we finally found the Emerald Hostel, which was truly a gem.

The promenade of Santa Marta.

The promenade of Santa Marta.

A view from the cliffs between beaches on our hike.

A view from the cliffs between beaches on our hike.

Our first day we meandered around the city, checking out the beach and our options for the next couple of days.  We decided to take a daytrip to Tayrona National Park, and spent the rest of the time enjoying Santa Marta.  Tayrona is a park with a beautiful coastline where you can hike from beach to beach through jungle terrain.  We were lucky enough to see monkeys swinging above us and play in the trees as well as numerous lizards, millipedes, and other insect life.

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Some of the beaches had crystal clear water that you could see to the bottom for meters.

Hiking through some of the less dense vegetation.

Hiking through some of the less dense vegetation.

A swamp next to one of the beaches.

A swamp next to one of the beaches.

Family shot.

Family shot.

Boys will be boys, at least nobody got hurt.

Boys will be boys, at least nobody got hurt.

The contrast of jungle and sand.

The contrast of jungle and beach.

A coffee shop/bookstore.

Amanuense coffee shop/bookstore.

Santa Marta has a couple of nice cafes where we spent time planning our next few weeks of travel and enjoying the finest coffee of Colombia.  Unfortunately, our first day of enjoying Santa Marta was a Sunday and virtually everything was closed on Sunday.  Another challenge we encountered was that anything you try to do on slow internet can take hours more than expected.

A plaza near the beach.

A plaza near the beach.

The largest church in Santa Marta.

The largest church in Santa Marta.

Tomorrow we catch a flight to the cooler climate of Medellín, famous for the being the home of Pablo Escobar.

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