Well, after our amazing and educational 5-day trek to La Ciudad Perdida (the Lost City), we decided it was time to do some intense relaxing. We didn't know where we were going to go next, but a quick look at my notebook (where I keep all my notes about places to stay from other travelers we meet along the way) gave us some ideas.
A friend named Shawn who we met in Ecuador in January had recommended a hostel called Rancho Relaxo, located just outside Tayrona National Park, an area that sounded amazing. We couldn't remember why he recommended it, but I had drawn two big stars beside the note so it must have been something good.
We sent an email seeing if they had room, packed our bags, and headed to a small street intersection in Santa Marta (right in the middle of an insanely busy outdoor market!) to catch a colectivo heading in the right direction. When we arrived we immediately noticed a big Canadian flag at the entrance and we started to remember Shawn talking about some funny Canadian guys... We walked in and toward what looked like a reception area, past a few people who were passed out in hammocks, and were greeted by a friendly, red-eyed happy-go-lucky Canadian guy who welcomed us with a hit from a gigantic bamboo bong before getting down to business. After chatting for a few minutes, we realized that the day before had been Canada Day, which explained all of the passed out people. Of course the Canadian-owned hostel/retreat is known for its massive Canada Day bashes that attract people from all over, and we'd missed it all by only a day. Oops!
We took a tour of the place and relaxed a bit before deciding which accommodation to take (private room, dorm, hammock, cabana or camp). Only after walking around a bit did we notice that there were pot plants growing wild all over the place! Now we remembered, THIS is why we had the stars in the notebook!
We decided to camp out in our tent on top of a lookout hill on the property. It was an incredible view and nice breezy spot to keep us cool during the hot nights. We spent a few days at Rancho Relaxo, reading our books, hitting the bong (there was sooooo soooooo much weed) a couple of times and just basically being Canadians in Colombia, as you do. The place had more to offer as well such as amazing fresh organic food (most of it grown on site), good people to chat with, closeness to some hiking, the beach and other fun activities. But after a couple of days we started to feel a bit unproductive (a nasty side effect of such Canadian behaviour) and decided to move on to Costeño Beach Surf Camp and Eco Lodge, owned by the one of the same guys but located right on the beach!
After packing up our tent and gear we called a couple moto-taxi's (guys on dirt bikes that will take you anywhere for a couple dollars) for a long-ish and exciting ride to Costeño Beach. It was very very nice! There were many more people there, music playing all day long, a slack line(!!), awesome food, gorgeous sand and palm trees, daily volleyball matches (sometimes twice a day), etc. However, the surfing wasn't great - the waves were VERY big and violent such that even swimming was kind of terrifying (there was a better surfing area a half-hour walk down the beach, though still not the greatest place to surf).
On the day that we arrived, just after unpacking, we sat down to some fresh fruit smoothies when someone came up behind us and shouted "hey, its you!". Our friend Stefan from the 5-day trek (La Ciudad Perdida) had just arrived as well! It was funny meeting him there because just as we had parted after the trek I had written his email on my hand. Without thinking about it, though, I'd taken a shower and washed the email address off! I was really upset because we wanted to keep in touch, and when I emailed the trekking company they said that they didn't have his email address either. It had seemed like we weren't going to find him, but then, voila! There he was! Awesome!
We had only planned to stay at Costeño Beach for a few days but ended up staying for almost a week (this seems to happen more and more often as our trip winds down). We were just having such a great time hanging out with Stefan and a bunch of other awesome people, and I was getting the hang of the slack line. We thought we might check out one other place in Colombia before our final stop, Cartagena, where we would fly out of to go back to Canada... booooo. A lot of people were recommending that we spend some time in Minca, a nearby mountain village before we leave for Cartagena, so we allotted ourselves some good quality beach time, several days for Minca and just a few days for Cartagena to finish up our South America travel year.
It was during our stay at Costeño Beach that the reality of our limited time left in Colombia began to set in. It has been truly the most incredible year of our lives to the point that words don't come close to expressing. While we were getting excited about seeing family and friends at home again, we couldn't help but start to feel a bit sad. We've learned so much about different cultures, learned to speak Spanish!!, seen so much ridiculously breathtaking beauty, fallen in love with so many places, and really delved deep learning about ourselves. What we've been through this year has really changed us forever. It is scary to think about going back to life before the trip, we really can't go back to that now. What lies ahead? We have no idea... The beach was the perfect place to start this reflection but Minca would turn out to be a good, peaceful place to let it sink in.
Rancho Relaxo and Costeño Beach Photos
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