We used Santa Marta as our base for a number of trips, leaving our big travel packs at a hostel and spiderwebbing out on our trek to Ciudad Perdida, Paso del Mango and Palomino. Our guidebook says that this will be the case: a stopgap town where you dump your bag and head off with just a rucksack. It’s not a place you stay in long but oddly we really liked it, this little town of dusty backstreets and coal ships in the dock. I like growing to like a place when the guidebook tells you that you won’t.
There are sweet things here: the man selling lime juice straight from the tree above him, the little naked boy who runs around avoiding his shower at a place we go to for lunch, Kevin – the guy who works in the hostel – who becomes pals with Moz when they watch football together. We go out for happy hour cocktails here and pizza, chicken wings for lunch and barbecued corn for dinner from a vendor on the waterfront.
When we return from Palomino it has rained so much that the streets are turned to stinking brown rivers and we have to wade across, trying not to think about what is in the water.
Everyone here is an entrepreneur: the lime juice man, the guys who when it rains build bridges out of scrap materials and charge you some pesos so you can cross the street, the man who has a giant hoop and performs circus acts at the traffic lights to earn some money.