colombia {day 9-10} bogota & traveling back to boston

Warning: This post is text-heavy and skimps on pretty pictures, but I promise you’ll find it entertaining if you enjoy reading about irresponsibility and embarrassment.

My last morning in Santa Marta was a sad one. Mostly because I had to say goodbye to my friend, but also because a night of Aguardiente shots has this funny way of making you feel like road kill the next morning. After being force-fed* some onion soup at the house, we headed to Lulo for lunch. I ordered “café Americano,” and considering Colombia is known for its coffee, I’m pretty sure that’s the equivalent of eating at the Olive Garden in Italy. I’m an asshole.

*Saying “no, thank you” when Colombians offer you food is like saying “no, thank you” when Americans offer you free Chanel bags. They look at you like you’re crazy and INSIST you eat. As much as I loved Colombia and found all the people to be so welcoming and gracious, I think that’s one cultural difference I would have an extremely difficult time adjusting to. You literally can’t say no when offered food. Being full or not caring for a certain dish just simply aren’t acceptable reasons to turn down food.

After briefly exploring the market, it was time for me to head to the airport for a night in Bogota with another of my close friends from college. (Lucky me having two friends in Colombia, huh?). The airport confiscated a pair of tweezers from me, but considering I hadn’t used them the entire trip, or done anything remotely hygienic for that matter, I let it slide. (The peanut butter incident was far more traumatic).

In the absence of my bilingual friends, getting from the Bogota airport to my friend’s apartment was the first time I had to rely on my nonexistent Spanish skills. Surprisingly, I managed. After a quick outfit change and a good hearty laugh at the condition my “hair” was in (I literally didn’t brush it once the entire time I was in Colombia…because I’m sexy), we headed out for the night to Andres Carne de Res.

I can’t even explain how cool this place is. First of all, it’s the size of a strip mall, and every inch of it is decorated in the most eclectically outrageous way possible. Rooms of tables are surrounded by dance floors and bars, and the whole place just screams “fun.” I think it would literally be impossible to have a bad time there. And if you’re not convinced, they have a room similar to a coat check where you can drop off a friend if she/he gets too drunk. Someone will give you a ticket in exchange so you can pick up your friend at the end of the night, and a nurse will feed them soup and take care of them while you continue to party. How hilarious is that?!

We had a delicious meal of authentic Colombian food and steak (I’m not a huge meat eater, but when at a steak house, do as the Romans do…?), tons of frozen fruit cocktails and…Aguardiente (there was no escaping it).

We danced and danced and danced—it is the understatement of the century to say that Colombians have more rhythm than I do—and before long I was talking in a Spanish accent because I have the embarrassing tendency to mimic people I’m with. I blame you for that, Aguardiente.

I had to be at the airport by 5AM to catch my early morning flight to Miami, and being the responsible adult I am, we made it back from Andres with enough time for me to get approximately 7 minutes of sleep before hailing a cab. Getting from my friend’s apartment to the airport after drinking and dancing all night was a blur.

Literally. I left my contacts at my friend’s apartment. Oops.

I’m cripplingly nearsighted, yet didn’t realize I was contact-less until I arrived at the airport. How did I not notice this, you ask. Well, I had a slight suspicion something was wrong in the cab, but attributed it to the booze, naturally.

So there I was. Blind, unable to speak Spanish, and still wearing my dress from last night and a Colombian flag sash I had somehow acquired at Andres. I probably should have been scared and embarrassed, but I’m really good at saying “si” repeatedly and nodding vigorously at people, so I easily made it through customs and on to the plane.

The plane was practically empty, so I took the liberty of upgrading myself to an empty exit row. Normally this would be a problem because you need to speak Spanish to sit in the exit row (and, ya know, not be drunk) but again, I’m very good at smiling, nodding and saying “si.” Totally played it off like I was Colombian.

Also working in my favor was my dark hair and skin coloring. The entire time I was in Colombia, practically NO ONE knew I was a gringa. I got mistaken for being Argentinian and Chilean, but never was my Stupid-American identity revealed. Blondes may have more fun, but brunettes don’t get kidnapped AND we get to sit in the exit row. BOOM!

Once in the air, I promptly sprawled out across all three seats in the row and fell asleep. I was out like a bulb the entire flight, but strangely awoke for 5 minutes to accept the in-flight meal and inhale it. Even stranger than me popping wide awake at the exact moment the food cart was approaching was the fact that they were serving turkey sandwiches at 7:30AM. But you don’t question things like this when you’re wearing a mini dress and sash on an airplane.

I had an eight-hour layover in Miami, so naturally I decided to take a $70-round-trip cab ride to South Beach. I spent the majority of my time on the beach in the fetal position, but it was worth the $70 to soak up one last day of sun and salt water.

When it was time to return to the airport, I was covered in sand (no towel) and still in my bathing suit. Add that to the previously described mini dress and sash, and I looked like a walking disaster. I snapped one pretty picture at sunset in the air, and then promptly fell asleep until landing in Boston.

Me, my bags and my sparkly floral manicure made it back home in one piece, leading me to conclude that the warnings of kidnapping and drug cartels I was berated with before leaving for Colombia were highly exaggerated. What I experienced was a gorgeous country full of kind, fun-loving people and I cannot wait to return next year.

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colombia {day 8} rodadero

I’ve been slacking in the blogging department this week due to a bad head cold, but I’ve got lots of awesomeness lined up for next week, so hang in there!

To celebrate Good Friday, we decided to head to Rodadero (“the Myrtle Beach of Colombia,” as my friend calls it). In other words, an ironic place to spend Good Friday, or any day with religious significance.

We decided to run up a mountain and then down the other side to Rodadero, equipped with backpacks with all we’d need to enjoy the day there. After running along with my bag flopping all over the place, all I have to say is: I feel your pain, Quasimodo, I feel you.

This reminds me—why isn’t there a plethora of YouTube videos of fat kids running to catch buses wearing backpacks? That is the funniest sight EVER. Running while wearing a backpack is awkward. Fat kids are awkward. Trying to catch a bus that’s about to pull away is awkward. It’s a trifecta of amazingness.

But back to Colombia…

We arrived at Rodadero before 8AM, but the beach was already filling up with vacationing Colombians. And those vacationing Colombians were already ripping shots of Aguardiente (a popular Colombian liquor that I have reason to believe was crafted by the devil himself…more on that in the next post).

We opted for some freshly squeezed juice instead of hard liquor and then spent some time walking around the marketplace. There I bought some expensive and 100% authentic Ray-Bans (they cost $4 and were advertised as “Bay-Rans”), and some equally expensive and awesome rings.

When it was time to lounge on the beach, the place was PACKED. Imagine a crowded Cancun beach during Spring Break, multiply that by 10, add lots of neon mesh and—voila!—you have Rodadero during Holy Week.

We got our bronze on, dined on some delicious fish soup (well, ok, “delicious” might be a strong word—but it was certainly authentic), and then took the most outrageous bus (if you can even call it a bus) back to my friend’s place. The bus had no door, which wasn’t surprising (most public buses around Santa Marta either have no doors or just choose to never close them). It was also decorated like a great-grandmother’s basement. If your great-grandmother did a lot of Ecstasy and was a DJ in her spare time. Add to that the fact that our driver was bumping Colombian house/electronic music and going 750 mph around mountainside roads and the result was one ridiculous ride. I probably should have been scared since I was sitting next to the open door with no seatbelt to keep me flying out of it, but I was too busy videoing the ride on my iPhone to care. Hey, I wanted to tweet it later, can you blame me?

Speaking of having skewed priorities, once back at our home base in Santa Marta it was time to do what I’d been DYING to do the entire trip: Get manicures. Before you write me off as an embarrassment to mankind, allow me to explain the GLORY that is a Santa Marta manicure. Remember Mimi from The Drew Carey Show? If she had a love child with Tiffany “New York” Pollard, that offspring would be rocking one of these manicures. If you’re not catching my drift, allow me to spell it out for you: neon pink with glittery floral detailing. This, my friends, is my idea of comedy.

Showered and rocking the hottest manicure on the equator, we headed back to Rodadero (via cab, not crazy bus driver) to watch the sunset from Burukuka’s gorgeous patio up on a cliff overlooking the ocean. On the drive we encountered two groups of teenagers in the middle of the road throwing pineapple-sized rocks at each other—talk about a gnarly fight. Luckily our cab escaped unscathed and hopefully…no one died?

It was unnerving, but nothing a bottle of wine and gorgeous sunset couldn’t fix!

When the sun had set and I’d taken 400 pictures of it, it was time to head back to Parque de los Novios for dinner at Ouzo. The only problem? A telephone pole had collapsed and there were live wires blocking the only street leading out from Burukuka. The even bigger problem? Some men were trying to remedy the situation by flicking the sparking wires around with sticks. Brilliant.

We managed to escape via a trek on the beach and made it to Ouzo for the best meal I had in Santa Marta. I had the langostino special and was one glass of wine away from licking the plate it was so good. Inhibitions still slightly intact, I refrained.

After dinner it was time for Aguardiente shots. It tastes like someone fermented liquorish and toothpaste together, but it’s authentically Colombian and I was all about immersing myself in the culture so…I may have had a few.

It was my last night in Santa Marta so we made it a late one. Once finally back at my friend’s host parent’s house around 3 or 4 in the morning, I made the considerate and completely sober decision to wash my face using one finger so as not to make any noise. Because rubbing soap on one’s face is OH SO LOUD. And using one finger instead of your whole hand is OH SO PRACTICAL. And OH SO MUCH MORE QUIET. Gotta love Aguardiente-influenced logic.

In case you missed it:

colombia {day 1} traveling to the equator
colombia {day 2} taganga beach
colombia {day 3} parque tayrona
colombia {day 4} parque tayrona & snorkeling at playa de amor
colombia {day 5} cartagena
colombia {day 6} cartagena & the never-ending search for la cevicheria  
colombia {day 7} quebrada valencia & costeno beach

colombia {day 7} quebrada valencia & costeño beach

Armed with homemade hummus (again), we hopped on a bus to Quebrada Valencia (a waterfall). We hiked in and enjoyed a snack by the waterfall, but didn’t stay long because it was PACKED with families enjoying their Semana Santa vacation.

On the hike back out, we stopped for a snack…because we hadn’t just had a snack or anything. I wanted some authentic Colombian food so I got a guineo maduro con queso costeno, which is essentially a grilled banana covered in cheese and served on a leaf. Don’t worry, I took lots of artsy pictures of it before devouring it.

I also stopped to take a picture of this adorable little puppy. I was beyond excited that he stayed still long enough for me capture a photo…until I realized that he was staying still because he was steadily eating a massive turd. Mmmm.

Our next stop was Costeño beach, where I enjoyed an amazing nap in the sand.

Before long it was time to head back to Santa Marta for a delicious dinner at Made In Spain.

In case you missed it:

colombia {day 1} traveling to the equator
colombia {day 2} taganga beach
colombia {day 3} parque tayrona
colombia {day 4} parque tayrona & snorkeling at playa de amor
colombia {day 5} cartagena
colombia {day 6} cartagena & the never-ending search for la cevicheria  

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