Casa Elemento is a dreamy hostel located at the top on a hill above Minca (a 40 minute drive from Santa Marta). It’s recently received mixed and lower ratings than it’s had in the past, but with its spectacular view and gigantic hammocks, I had to check it out.
To get to Casa Elemento, you can either hike for 3 hours or take a 30 minute mototaxi ride. I opted for the latter. My first time on a motorcycle and not in the greatest of conditions, but I made it up AND down safely (nothing to worry about, parents).
And this view! The hassle was worth it for a sunset to remember. I don’t know how Casa Elemento’s quality has gone down in recent years, but just the view alone is a 10/10!
The were two ways to get back to Santa Marta from Tayrona National Park: hiking for 2 hours back to where I had entered, or taking a motorboat ride to nearby Taganga. I had recently had some motor boat trauma, but… surely this one couldn’t be as bad, right?
Fool. For some reason I was beckoned before all of the other tourists to a small boat with only 5 other passengers. It started off alright, but I soon gave up any delusions of staying dry. To make matters worse, there was wind this time that blew bucket splashs of water in our faces. At one point, one of the boat workers cut open a water bottle and used it to bail water out of the back of the boat.
The only silver lining: I had my GoPro with me this time! I guess I was so forlorn about not having a record of the last terrible boat trip that I had to recreate the circumstances. I certainly took enough footage to make up for it, and more!
We arrived at Taganga just in time to catch a beautiful sunset, but we were drenched to the core. 0/10 don’t recommend. Hike instead, definitely do the hike!
Even though I’m not a big fan of the beach, even I couldn’t resist the draw of Tayrona. Gorgeous clear blue water with colorful fish swimming around your feet. I didn’t have goggles with me, but used my GoPro to take some footage instead. I guess you could call it delayed snorkeling!
The island life is chill, and we found that nothing on Isla Grande ran with any sort of efficiency. It took 20 minutes to order at one restaurant, an hour to receive a piña colada (without rum) at another, and 30 minutes to get 5000 pesos of change from Kevin the kayak guy (freaking KEVIN).
But we felt the full effects of inefficiency the most when we needed it the least: as we tried to leave the island for Kayla and Michael’s flight to the US that night. When we came to the island we had bought return trip tickets for the boat back as well. But when we went to take the return boat (which only runs once per day), the guy at the reception pulled out a list and said hadn’t put our names down. Not on the list, not on the boat. Sorry.
Excuse me, what? Having already paid for tickets at this specific date and time, you would think they would leave 3 seats on the boat for us. Our complaints were just met with “tranquilo, tranquilo,” but ultimately they did squeeze us on the boat.
And what a boat ride. It started with a speech from the driver saying that the sea was “picado” (choppy), so all pregnant women and people who recently had surgery should move to the back… Uh oh. Kayla and I were in the back, so we didn’t experience the up to 2 meter drops that poor Michael did in front. But we were showered almost constantly by the wake of the boat. Unfortunately we didn’t get any footage of the exciting ride because my GoPro was inside a plastic bag that Michael had brought (you are my savior), and there was no way in hell I was opening that up.
We finally arrived in Cartagena an hour later, shaken and drenched. What a send off and end to a fun week with Kayla and Michael in Colombia! Unfortunately they had more drama in store for them, as their flight from Cartagena to Bogota was cancelled and they missed their connecting flights back to Colorado. I personally think it was a divine sign that they were supposed to stay and keep traveling with me. 😉 But in any case, they made it back safely (if a little later than expected). Thank you for joining me!!
Behind our hotel on Isla Grande was a series of lagoons connected by mangrove tunnels, perfect for a sunset kayak trip. We went to rent kayaks and found that they were all out, but we made reservations for the next day with the guy named Kevin at the kayak booth.
When we went to pick up the kayaks the next day at the reserved time, Kevin looked us dead in the eye and took us that we didn’t have a reservation. I doubt that he didn’t remember us, since I was the only Asian on the island and Michael was easily the tallest person. But no can do. Freaking KEVIN.
Not ones to be easily dissuaded, we decided to explore the lagoons anyway – but via swimming instead. The water looked pretty gross, but scorned people do stupid things. We confirmed that the wasn’t anything that could eat us in the lagoon and then jumped in the algae water.
Turns out there was also lots of goopy algae settled at the bottom of the lagoon. Closer to the mangroves, the water got ever shallower until we were unleashing a goopy algae explosion with every stroke. I couldn’t take it and booked it back. But Kayla, the bravest of us, continued all the way to the mangroves and disappointingly reported that she couldn’t find the tunnel.
Still not ones to give up, we successfully rented the kayaks the next day right before we left the island. I’m so glad that we did, because the mangrove tunnels were stunning (and also long, unexpectedly long). And now I know, what difference does a kayak make? A lot, definitely a lot!
We met up with our Bogotá friends again before we left for the coast, this time for an aptly-name jirafa (giraffe) of beer and a couple of rounds of “2 Truths and a Lie” and “Never Have I Ever” in a mixture of English and Spanish.
“Never have I ever… used a silla de sexo.”
“… Qué es una silla de sexo?”
“‘Silla’ is ‘chair.'”
“No, we know that ‘silla’ is ‘chair,’ but what is a ‘sex chair’??” 😂
It felt like a sleepover and I almost wish that it had been, but unfortunately it was a Monday night. Gracias por pasando el rato en la noche del lunes, tuvimos tanto divertido!
I told a friend that the “biggest” piece in the gold museum was a boat made of gold. I meant “big” as in “most notable” instead of “large size,” but she interpreted it as the latter and expected a life size boat made of solid gold.
Instead, she got this. Actual dimensions: 20cm x 10cm 😂