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open mind, empty stomach

travel, food, and fun

Following a hot, humid welcome to Colombia in Cartagena, I took a shuttle bus to Santa Marta. Located on Colombia’s Caribbean Coast, Santa Marta is a hub for a number of activities in neighboring places, but the city itself has few attractions. Its biggest claim to fame is being the first Spanish settlement in Colombia when Rodrigo de Bastidas took the place back in 1525.

While lacking a major tourist draw, I found Santa Marta pleasant, comfortable, and a good place to relax and strategize what surrounding places to visit. You could easily spend a couple weeks taking advantage of the many opportunities Santa Marta’s geographic location provides. I managed to squeeze in an incredible trek, overnighter at a beautiful national park, and a relaxing stay in a sleepy beach town during my stay.

For accommodations, I went with the newly opened La Guaca Hostel. Located outside of the congested city center and operated by a friendly, welcoming, and hospitable family, La Guaca was just what I was looking for. Pau, the middle of the family’s three sons, speaks English very well and was incredibly helpful in planning my trips out of Santa Marta and making my time there as enjoyable as possible.

As for the city itself, visitors congregate along the waterfront where there are a number of shops and restaurants/mobile food operators that cater to their needs. It was there where I got to try the legendary ketchup and mayo ceviche, which wasn’t as bad as it sounds. There is a relatively small open air market near the bus terminal in the city center that doesn’t offer much in terms of things to see or eat.

Santa Marta is not a place you must see, but its proximity to a number of desirable destinations puts it on the map.

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