I’ve been stuck in Santa Marta, Colombia for over a week now recovering from a pretty intense hit with sickness that was brought on by either a bad reaction to the Yellow Fever shot I got here just before going to Tayrona, or something that I ate. The latter seems likely as almost every traveler I’ve talked to about it has had similar episodes to commiserate with me about. Our bodies are all begrudgingly getting used to the Colombian way of cooking.
At first I was bummed to have to delay my travels onward and lose a week here. A week and a half in, I would hardly regard this as a loss. The more time I spend here the more I am coming to regard this delay as a real blessing in disguise that allowed me to discover Santa Marta for the little gem it really is. After all, what’s the rush? I’m not on any kind of a time frame this trip. Why not hang out a little longer and really take the place in….
When I finally emerged from my hostel after 2 days being bed ridden, it was initially just to go drop off some laundry. But the energy on the street begged me to keep on walking… just a little bit more just down one more corner, one more alleyway. Suddenly I found myself turning into a little photographer, whipping out my camera every 5 feet to capture another peculiar moment on the street that it seemed could only happen here. So much color. So much life.
Never have I felt so delighted to simply walk around the streets and observe, all by myself. In fact I would say in some way this walk healed me, by sparking enough curiosity inside to get me back up and walking around again. It prompted me to start getting artistic with my photos to capture the ordinary magic that is happening right here on the street. And it gave me the kick in the butt I needed to get this blog up and running, so I could share my excitement about Colombia with the world.
The colors. The energy. The music. The Caribbean vibes. The visible joy. I am smitten with Santa Marta and Colombia. It’s easy to see what all of the fuss is about over here.
Here are my recommendations for where to stay and where to eat (and drink) in Santa Marta:
Hostel Escuela El Habitante: When I realized that I was going to be staying in Santa Marta for longer than I anticipated, I went searching on Booking.com for more affordable accommodations. This place popped up as one of the cheaper options but with excellent reviews, and a great location right in the center. It lived up to all of those reviews and more, for a digital nomad like me who needs a calm place to work this fit the ticket perfectly, and I only wish I would have found it sooner! Set in a beautiful old colonial building, it is wide, open, quiet and relaxed. Not a party place but very close to all the party places. I highly recommend it. Also, the proceeds go to an organization for local, underprivileged kids called “Tiempo del Juego”, which teaches them music, sports, etc.
Heard about this place when my girlfriends and I were asking around about where we could try some great local food. We were directed to this place and it did not disappoint! In fact, we loved it so much we had to go back again before we left. Serving Colombian-Caribbean food from the zone at very affordable prices, in a beautiful little setting just off the Parque de Los Novios in the center of Santa Marta
You’re going to hear me talk about Arepas a lot when i talk about Colombia because they are the bomb. An Arepa a day is the Colombian way, I was happy to see this sign on the street here in Santa Marta which reflected my thoughts exactly:
An Arepa is a type of pastry made with ground corn flour. It can be served on it’s own or split in half and filled with meats, avocados, salsas, etc to make it like a sandwich, so it fits the bill as either a snack or a meal. Here in Santa Marta I am seriously digging these grilled cheese arepas, hot and fresh right off the barbecue on the street here and for 2,000 pesos- less than a dollar.
Bar Hemingway-Plaza de los Novios
We liked Bar Hemingway for it’s insanely good Pina Coladas and it’s beautiful laid back atmosphere. This is the place you come for a quiet night out or before the party.
For the wilder party scene the place is La Brisa Loca- but be careful up there. The wind does get crazy!