Taganga was lovely for 2 weeks of longing for rest. It's tough to be a long-time traveller, no walk in the park like everyone thinks. After 4 months of countless islands, and even more beaches in the Caribbean it was finally time for a little rest and relaxation.
First night we stayed deep in the fishing village in a converted private house. The next day we moved to a hotel that was located right across the beach and had a view over the whole village, a better place to spend our days of relaxation.
Taganga is a quiet little fishing village with a small promenade with various restaurants and a myriad of dive shops. Most of the village is just old houses along potholed dirt roads.
In recent years there has been an influx of backpackers invading the small town. It has resulted in a tourist industry with dozens of hostels and several clubs and bars, all thanks to Lonely Planet that have promoted it as a nice place for a beach party.
It is also promoted as one of the cheapest places for diving and for taking diving lessons; one of the reasons we went there. Torunn did the rescue diver course, while I just wanted to do a lot of dives as I am already a Divemaster.
It was 4 days with lots of diving and coursing, which was a lot of fun, but got little in the way of plans for relaxation.
The dive center was very good, they had their own little beach in the national park where we did all the dives. We had some lunch there in the surface intervals. It was nice to sit and watch Torunn struggle and manage to save different frantic people on the surface during the rescue diver course. The dives were not the best I've had, but still really good. Lots of different fish life and corals, but poor visibility.
The dive center had a huge macaw that was very social and had lots of little tricks up his sleeves . He stood on a shelf right above where all the divers walked past, and he entertained himself by turning upside down and bite people in the head. Sometimes they let him run around on the floor, and it was his greatest source of entertainment to bite my toes and chew on peoples sandals.
It is not a type of parrot that someone should have as a pet because they actually live wild in both Venezuela and Colombia, and they are almost extinct due to people that catch them and sell them as pets.
After diving we had 10 lazy days in the hammock overlooking Taganga. One day I was bored so I wanted to challenge myself; to swim across Taganga bay and back again. I'm not the best swimmer, but amazingly I survived the challenge. It was probably closer to 2 kms, and the whole time I was in danger of being run over by boats, get eaten by sharks, or killed by poisonous jellyfish.
The worst that happened was actually the day I had decided to swim across the bay for the second time. 1/3 across the bay, I felt my body being attacked by various slimy things. They attacked from all directions. I tried to swim faster, but those little bastards followed me. It was a bit freaky, so I swam back to the beach and got back on land, where I belong.
The creatures that had attacked me is a special type of nudibranchs that we saw many of in Taganga. They were different than anything I've seen before, but pretty cool. They are about 10 cm long and swim in the sea with the help of 2 huge wings so they look a bit like a ray-fish. It was the season for them when we were in Taganga, which was obvious when we saw that there were thousands of dead and half dead snails along the beach. Local kids rolled them into balls and threw them at each other. One time me and Torunn were reading on the beach when we were suddenly struck by a ball of slimy snails. These little bastards thought it was fun to throw living beings on us like a snowball. They would be given a beating if I had got hold of them!
One day when I was on the beach, I saw that there was a fire on the hill where our hotel was.
The fire was pretty big, and approached the hotel, so I went back to see if everything was okay. The people at the front desk were not very worried though there was smoke everywhere…so I thought that everything must be fine. I sat in a hammock to watch the fire, and after 5 minutes an antique fire truck turned up. The heroic local firemen started pumping water in the entire area. They were all covered in smoke, and no one was wearing a mask. That cant possibly be healthy.
Taganga was a nice place, and it was not nearly as many tourists as I had expected after reading about it. It is certainly nothing compared to Cartagena. After 4,5 months of island hopping this would be the last Caribbean beach out of many.
Karneval i Barranquilla
Since it was February and carneval times we could not miss the world's second largest carnival that was in a city called Barranquilla, only 3 hours from Taganga. We went there the first day of the carneval. There was no vacant hotels in town, so we had to leave our bags at the bus station while we went to see the carneval. Another option would be to take in at one of the many sleazy hourly hotels. They rent out the rooms usually with hourly rate to whore clients, but are often willing to rent out the room overnight to desperate tourists.
We thought that it is enough to only be there one day, experience some of the fun, and take the night bus further south in the evening.
The streets were full of dressed up dancing people and the party atmosphere was high. We unfortunately had not found any costumes because we decided to go there a bit last minute. We, however, was an attraction for the locals who stood in line to take a picture of us. A bunch of teenage girls thought it was fun to pose for the picture along with two real "gringos" with blue eyes(Stig) og blond hair(Torunn). A bit strange, considering all the people there wearing the craziest costumes that were much more interesting to photograph.
The whole place was totally chaotic, and scorching hot. There were not many other tourists there , which was a bit unfortunate as many locals had spray cans of foam, and nothing is more fun than to soak a "gringo".
Streetfood was EVERYWHERE, meat on a stick, Fried sausage with yucca, freshly squeezed juice, unrecognizable fried organs and other delicacies. No one will go hungry during the carnival!
The parade-street was completely packed with people, so all the time I kept my hand on the pocket where the camera was located as it is the ideal place for thieves. People wanted to take a picture with the foreigners. It was impossible to see the parade wherever we were standing, but we noticed that there were a lot fewer people on the other side of the street. We walked around the entire parade to the other side of the street where we quickly found a place where we could see everything. The reason why there were fewer people there was that the sun shining right towards that side of the street, and there was no shade. It was a little bit like torture, but we got to see some fun carnival people.
At night after the parade was over, thousands of people were sitting on plastic chairs around the various pubs that played loud salsa music. Everyone were drinking Aguardiente (Local cheap spirit) or beer, and the whole family was on dansegolvet.Vi said goodbye to the shore and jumped on a night bus that went south, to the mountains.