I had planned on staying on Playa Blanca, a beach on Isla Barú 45 minutes off the coast of Cartagena, for several nights, but after a series of events it turned into just one. I was lucky enough to make the journey with an awesome woman from Argentina named Sofi, she was perfect company.
The day began with 15 minutes of haggling for a better price for the trip; eventually we settled and set out into the Caribbean sea on a tiny speed boat that felt more like a roller coaster than a mode of transportation. I attempted to laugh away my fear as we shot straight into waves and bounced up and down wildly, it was exhilarating. I trusted the 12(ish) year old boy up front and his slightly older companion behind us to get us there safely. One huge string ray sighting and many bumps later, we arrived at the beach. We snagged the first hammocks we found (for a whopping $4/night) and dropped our things before walking down the southern part of the beach. Before I even considered the time, I popped a beer and then found out it was barely past 10 AM. Pues, when in paradise.
The beach was gorgeous. Bright blue water crashed onto white sand, some local kids played in the waves and people tried selling us fresh fish, hand made jewelry and massages (which eventually I gave in to).
Even though the beach was perfect, one should come to paradise prepared for simplicity. I did not. Blame it on misinformation or my complete disregard for time the previous night, but I had very little cash, no fresh water (for drinking or rinsing away the salt- there was no water on the beach besides overpriced tiny bottles for sale) and only a few snacks. The only ATM (which sometimes didn’t work) and the big market on the island turned out to be very difficult and expensive to reach, so I hesitated in making the trek in order to stay longer. After a gnarly sunburn and one look at the toilet, I decided one night was enough.
The day and evening consisted of swims in what felt like a bath, a walk down the beach, a fresh coconut, a sunset, a delicious meal of fried whole red snapper and a few cocktails. The sky was full of stars. To the south, a lightening storm rolled past, turning the sky purple for half the night. It could have been quite romantic, Sofi and I both decided we may come back some day with lovers and adequate supplies.
It was a little uncomfortable sleeping in an old woven hammock with a sunburn, but waking up and pulling open the mosquito net to waves crashing on a perfect beach made it worth the discomfort.
Sofi was able to work her smile for a free boat ride back to Cartagena with an interesting bunch of older, wealthy folks, so we saved some cash and had more fun that we would have on the cheaper tourist ferry. We got caught in a downpour en route, I sat up top with the driver as rain poured in through open spaces, getting soaked and snapping photos, laughing with the two children on board.
Life is full of unexpected events that could either be construed as terrible misfortunes or hilarious adventures. I choose the latter.
Today I’ve been cooped up applying and reapplying massive amounts of burn cream (seriously, I look like a bright red person with a white swimsuit on), but tomorrow I’ll head east to a smaller beach town called Taganga with lots of sunscreen on hand.
Thank goddess for clean water, aloe vera and just enough cerveza for a good night’s sleep.