Next stop was Cartagena, a stunning fort town with loads of character, to meet our third San Juan party girl Andrea. It was so weird to be reunited outside of San Juan, to remember our party days and the lives we built there and find ourselves travelling a totally new area together. Andrea is travelling with her mate from home (Carolina) and together the four of us caught up, had a great dinner and drank / danced the night away.
Andrea and Carolina left the next morning to party it up in Santa Marta while Abi and I met my BFF (best friend forever) toilet buddy from Medellin, Becky, for lunch, where we lamented about how much we’d drunk the night before and discussed boys. Namely Becky’s most recent Chile boy escapade. She does love her Chile boys. I spent the rest of my day catching up with friends and family – calling my brother and an hour long call with my dear friend Simbastian. (Seb this is how I’m going to know if you’re reading the blog or not 😉 – he promised me he would).
For our final day in Cartagena Abi and I went to the mud volcano which was an incredibly bizarre experience. You strip off in the van, climb the rocky steps up to the mud bath, lower yourself into the grip of a man who starts sloshing mud all over you before pushing you to the far wall for a seriously awkward mud massage (totally optional and I opted out) then you kind of flounder about for awhile, reveling in the weird sensation of not swimming or floating or sinking. Literally just kind of stuck in the mud. Getting back out and a man wipes your legs down (I assume so you have some kind of grip on the ladder). Abi and I posed for a picture and found ourselves genuinely leaning on each other for support. We made our way down the stairs slipping everywhere, down to the lake to wash the mud off. As you’re in the lake women will come with buckets to wash the mud off of you, which is supposed to be optional but even though I ducked under the water to clean myself off as I rose back up and protested vigorously that I did not need to be cleaned, I was completely manhandled with a woman undoing my bikini top so I had no choice but to hold on to the front for dear life while she then pulled at my bottoms to wash my bum. How much time women have spent on my bum this trip is getting worrying. So now my backside and body had been washed clear of mud we headed back to the van where everyone was waiting for tips. The man with my phone for pictures (fair enough), the guys who gave the mud massages (didn’t have one so didn’t pay) and the woman who forcibly washed me (I’ll pay you to leave me alone). We finally went to the beach, had lunch and eventually got back to Cartagena to board a shuttle to Santa Marta.
We reunited with Carolina and Andrea in Santa Marta and headed straight for Palomino. The tubing there was excellent! We stopped off for beers, rode mototaxis in bikinis whilst holding on to beer and rubber rings followed by a 30 min trek in our flip flops to the start of the river. We had a great time with beer and music, with the motto ‘bums up’ every time the river got too shallow and we were in danger of our bums being poked with rocks. Towards the end of the tubing we heard a bizarre roaring / grumbling noise which we dubbed the Jungle monster. We did later hear that someone had spotted a crocodile somewhere along the river. Yikes.
We had a pretty miserable Valentine’s Day. Carolina was sick, we spent hours looking for a hostel, it was impossible to swim at the beach as the waves were too rough. Trying to shower at the hostel was a nightmare, they had to refill the tank and we watched with increasingly ill humour as the garden sprinklers came on but the tanks for showers were still empty. I had a horrendous dinner, and when we made it to the party Hostel of the town it was fairly dead. I wasn’t sorry to see the back of Palomino.
The next morning we made our way to costeno beach lodge and were reunited with Milan. We spent the day at the beach, day drinking, paddling (rough waves), listening to music and playing a mini beach volleyball championship. My team were runner ups – gutted we didn’t win the bottle of rum. The food at the hostel was amazing! The night party was good fun, from what I can remember..I woke up and couldn’t find my phone, lipstick, Milan’s locker key or my shorts. Hungover to hell I went to search the beach figuring if I found my shorts everything else would fall into place. Feeling so ill I went back to bed and found my shorts, lipstick in pocket on top of Milan’s bag. Utterly confused and feeling very unwell I crawled back into bed unable to deal with a lost phone and locker key. When Milan FINALLY woke up he handed me my phone with a wink and let me know he’d already taken his locker key from my shorts. Completely relieved I headed down to meet everyone for an hour long extremely slow and hungover breakfast. We had more beach time and shortly after lunch Milan, Abi and I headed back to Santa Marta.
At Masaya hostel we played pool, enjoyed happy hour and eventually went out for dinner (I was feeling heaps better). We all headed to bed around 10pm and I had a god awful stomach ache but thought it was hangover 2.0 kicking in. I decided to just sleep it off. A few hours later I woke up and ran to the ensuite bathroom of our dorm, making it to the sink before my dinner made a reappearance. Embarrassingly I blocked the sink and had to go to reception for help, unfortunately while asking for said help I had to be sick again and had the guy at reception holding back my hair. He then cleaned out my sick from the sink with his hands to my absolute mortification (I’d just like to highly recommend Masaya hostel again), and apparently at 7.30am at the end of his shift came to ask Abi how I was and that he’d check on me when his shift started again. I’d thrown up a few more times throughout the night but this time ensuring the path to the bathroom was clear and he toilet seat was up.
The next morning was by far the worst of my trip to date. I was in a lot of pain and after six weeks of travelling together Abi was leaving me to head home. It was awful. Shortly after Abi left Milan had to as well. I felt extremely sorry for myself. I spent most of the day in the TV room with my mum, brother and best friend all asking me to come home. Andrea and Carolina showed up in the late afternoon and Carolina was sick as well. It turns out some virus had broken out at Costeno beach lodge and a lot of people had been throwing up the previous night. I barely moved the entire day and managed a yoghurt before calling it a night.
I woke up the next morning feeling heaps better and managed breakfast before packing up and heading to El Rio hostel in Buritaca to meet up with my favourite toilet gal pal Becky. I did nothing except eat, chill, drink and talk at El Rio. The food was great, the brownies are outstanding and I met the American / British sisters Rain and Jair who had organised the Airb&b for 20 of us in Barranquilla for Carnaval.
It was probably too soon for alcohol, even the minute amount I’d drunk. The next morning I wasn’t feeling amazing and the bus ride back to Santa Marta I was in heaps of pain and thought I’d be sick. I did start throwing up which was not fun but still pushed myself to go to Minca with Becky as I really wanted to go. The bus ride from Minca to the hostel (Casa Elemento) was hideous and so painful on the then fragile stomach. Unfortunately I was quite ill for the first day there and then spent the second day chilling on the hammocks and chatting away as I gradually started to feel better. It was absolutely STUNNING at Casa Elemento and I met a lot more of the people coming to Carnaval so I was extremely glad I went.