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11 – 19 November 2013

I got up fairly early the next morning but it took a while before I could leave the campground as I had to wait for the sun to dry my wet/damp stuff.... An hour's walk back to Cañaveral and a shuttle bus to the park entrance where I quickly got a bus another hour to Palomino. Along the way more banana plantations, small villages and many military check-points though they seemed useless as nothing was checked... Palomino is highly recommended but I had my doubts going there as most travellers I already met knew about it. My doubts were right – it was probably a nice unspoiled place some years ago but it's quickly turning in to a commercial backpacker place which unfortunately also influences the locals and the atmosphere... I walked to the beach looking for a cheap campground to pitch my tent or hammock – various un-informed people sent me up and down the beach before somebody finally told me the owner had sold his property... All other places were expensive, loud and busy so I walked off the beach and back towards the main road where asking for advice ended up in a private room with own kitchen and bath – at the same price as a hammock on the beach! There wasn't much to do in Palomino but walking up and down the beach so I spent the days relaxing and reading.... Great to have a kitchen for cooking though the last dinner was a challenge as (more) torrential rain entailed a power cut – I had to cook by candle light (including cleaning a fish) but at least the stowe used gas....

After some days I continued up the coast to secluded Cabo de la Vela... alledgedly a long and difficult trip so I took off early. First a 1½ hour bus ride to Riohacha – again the driver tried to charge 50% more but having asked a local I knew the price which he accepted. In Riohacha I stocked up before getting a collectivo to Uribia waiting as long for the car to fill up as the actual ride (an hour each).... Here 4WD trucks go the rest of the way to Cabo and as many places in the world it was monopoly prices set and coordinated amongst the drivers … trying to ask locals for the price a guy constantly followed me to prevent them from telling me. I'm not annoyed for the money but for the principle as foreigners pay much more than the locals. I ended up getting a small discount but my guess is, I still paid 50-100% too much.... Besides a few columbian tourists the bus was full of indigenous Wayuu women returning from shopping in Uribia – they all wore multi-coloured dresses and spoke a gibberish local dialect.... Halfway through the 2 hour trip the road was blocked by locals demonstrating for work so we had to make a detour – machetes were used to cut a way through cacti to another bumpy dirt road prolonging the journey with an hour (to my surprise I wan't met by demands of extra payment). As we progressed the nature went more and more barren and in the end it was de facto a desert.

Finally arriving in Cabo late afternoon I walked around town to find a hostel – despite it being off season competition is fairly low as most places are closed. Again the standard price for a hammock is that of a dorm in a big town but in the far end of town I was lucky to make a bargain getting my own room with bathroom and kitchen access for half the price of a hammock! Cabo is off the beaten track so electricity is by generator from 6-9pm and the toilet had no running water - toilet water came from the ocean and shower water in a bucket from the kitchen; though not automatically – I had to get it myself (customer service was non-existing).... I love primitive conditions like this and the simplicity of the local lifestyle though I must say I didn't like the people much – it might be a cultural thing but they weren't very helpful, never returned a smile, always begged shamelessly and seemed mostly interesting in getting my money.

A bit naïve I had hoped to get a lot of sleep here but hardly got any during my stay... Dogs, cocks, donkeys and pigs made loud noises all night long. After the first might the owner for some unknown reason decided to sleep in his hammock just outside my room – that didn't help much as he was snoring and farting loud until he got up at 4am.... Sleeping in a room without electricity the wind blowing through the bamboo walls was my fan though some nights there was no wind and I was melting - at the same time it made me an esy target for the countless mosquitos. Finally I had huge problems with my left leg – I think a nerve got stuck carrying all the luggage in the national park as I had constant “electric shocks” from my butt to my toes. It was painful walking around during the day and very frustrating not being able to sleep at night because any position hurt...

Cabo is another place where it's impossible to get stressed. I spent the days walking around town visiting different small villages, beaches, the lighthouse, etc. Being off season the whole area seems like a ghost town – houses locked up and no people in sight... During my 5 days here I only met a handful of tourists actually staying in town – the vast majority (and it still wasn't many) visited on daytrips... Besides walking around I spent time reading and working on pictures and text for my homepage...

The trip back to Santa Marta was somewhat interesting. The evening before I met the guys who drove me to Cabo and of course they wanted me to go with them to Uribia to get the high tourist price. They would leave at 4am and when I said it was too early and I would find another solution they told me it was the only truck that day... . When I later approached the hostel the owner came running towards me to tell me to take the 4am truck as it was the only one. I might look stupid but obviously they had talked to him and offered something for him to convince me - fortunately they are unintelligent people and I had of course talked to “independent people” who told me to take the 6am truck. He told me people were lying though in the morning when the truck came at 6am he was quiet (who's the liar now?). We left at 7am as it took an hour before they finished talking to everybody in the street... Only a few people on the truck and no demonstrations so I should have been a fast ride to Uribia but halfway we had to tow a broken down car – one of the craziest things I have witnessed for a long time. On a dirt road with millions of small stones the car must have had more than 100,000 stone chips in the hour it took. Maybe the guy saved a bit on towing but the whole front of the car needed refurbishment... From Uribia I unsuccessfully tried hitchhiking - instead I tool a local bus to the main road where I was lucky to get a direct bus back to Santa Marta....    

 
 
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