Excerpt from the Journal of Olds – Day 421-423 – Colombia – Santa Marta

Early breakfast and a quick wander to the ticket office scored us the onward travel to the first colonial city in South America – Santa Marta. This weighty title isn’t really backed up by the city itself as very few people have said anything nice about it. We did however find out about a certain hostel renowned as a black hole where travellers get lost for far longer than they intend to, and the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta came highly recommended so we figured one last jaunt was worthwhile.

The transfer was painless as transfers go though we did manage to get the only seats missed by the aircon. We were dropped at the door by the driver and checked into our dorm for the first night. The place looked lovely and had everything you need at a hostel – pool, pool table, bar and good sized rooms. As luck would have it the Champions League was on the box so I dropped straight in front of that and met Alex from Sydney and Nicole from Michigan. By the end of the match it felt the four of us had known each other forever and we’d already become well acquainted with the two-for-one Caiparinhas.

That evening we visited a street vendor for a wonderful array of meat sticks which our half cut selves gorged on before picking up a bottle of Ron to share (it lasted two drinks each…) returning to play pool until the early hours and meeting all manner of other guests and staff including Sam, Rhydian, Matt, Matthew, Christina, Maru, Eugenie, Panil, Krish and many more. I rolled into my dorm bed late aware that my head would be sure to remind me of the evening’s excesses.

A lazy day followed – we moved into the Holland suite – the top room at the place and a treat for us for the next two nights. We spent a little time by the pool and dined at the hostel for lunch. We simply took advantage of the weather and the relaxed atmosphere of the place and enjoyed it.

A few people returned from a trip away including Jonathan and Nina from Bristol. That night we planned a more laid back and less drunken evening and more or less succeeded – it was almost beer only and a lot of people went out to Taranga (a nearby spot with a nightclub, after party and a little something for everyone) while we stayed at the hostel playing pool, eating meat sticks and getting to know those that stayed back with us.

Having treated ourselves better and slept well we were poolside early and making the most of it. A lovely relaxing day was had – we did take a break to gather supplies though that didn’t really go well – we set out to make a group salad and ended up with wine for Fi and Nicole and a bottle of Ron…each…for me and Alex. Even after this long I have seriously odd budgeting methods.

By 3pm we were back on it in the pool where we held out until after sunset, meeting Dan from Kilkenny in the process. After a final visit to Meat Stick lady we returned to spend some quality time with Ron before most people went out to Taranga again leaving the few remaining stragglers to enjoy the pool table and each other’s company. In short, I drank far too much rum and stayed up far too late rounding off our relaxing few days in the sun like a hyperactive man-child on a stag do…which is pretty normal for me I suppose.