A few weeks ago was Semana Santa here in Colombia which translates to ‘Holy Week’ but I like to think of it as the Colombian version of Spring Break (only with more church). Everyone has this week off of school so it was our first good opportunity as volunteers to take a vacation and see some more of what Colombia has to offer! I spent my week visiting Santa Marta (the third costal city where volunteers are placed and the only one I had yet to visit). Located about a half an hour outside of Santa Marta is Tayrona National Park which was rumored to be home to a variety of wildlife, diverse flora and fauna, and some of the most beautiful coastline in all of South America. When you add to this the fact that you can hike in and around the whole park…..I was sold!
We hiked in on Monday and ended up arriving a little later than expected. At first we were convinced we could continue to our intended destination but we were persuaded by some Colombian police officers to cogela suave and stay put for the night.
The next morning we got up early and hiked the rest of the way to Cabo San Juan de Guia where we spent our second night. The campsites in the park offer various accomodations from bringing your own tent, renting a tent, renting a cabana, or renting a hammock. We slept in hammocks for $12 mil a night (about $6 USD). This was surprisingly comfortable with a few exceptions (aka the night we slept through a torrential downpour and gale force winds). We spent time at the beach, played a lot of cards, and ate a lot of peanut butter (we brought in our own food to save money…but there was a restaurant). The morning we woke up ready to hike out it was raining and we debated whether or not we should wait it out. Eventually we just went and it rained off and on the whole morning. Although we were soaking wet (from rain/sweat), carrying all of our stuff on our backs which was also soaking wet (from rain/sweat), and we were slipping and sliding through the muddy jungle…..morale remained surprisingly high and there was a lot of laughter (either from good spirits or delirium….).
Next we headed up to Minca, a little town in the Sierra Nevadas outside of Santa Marta, which happens to be the site of a fellow volunteer. We spent our time in Minca hiking and relaxing at the beautiful hostel which is nestled atop a mountain and has a spectacular view. In keeping with the tradition of this trip we slept in hammocks here as well which were much more comfortable as they were dry and came with cozy blankets for the chilly mountain evenings. Once again we brought our food with us because we are cheap, but we treated ourselves to some delicious pizza on our last night.
On Friday we planned on heading home but found out that since it was Good Friday there were no busses running between the cities, so we extended our vacation by a day and spent one more night in hammocks at a hostel in Santa Marta. We saw some of our friends who live in SM, ate a DELICIOUS dinner (we were stranded…we might as well enjoy ourselves…) and then headed home the following morning.
When arrived at my house my entire host family was there and wanted to hear all about my trip (after thoroughly lecturing me about my sunburns/bug bites/generally destroyed appearance). I decided since I was very tired and dirty, I would spend a few hours unpacking and cleaning my room and then shower and go to bed around 7pm. I got SUPER sweaty (doesn’t matter..I was going to shower…right?) Around 5:45pm my host mom came into my room and told me we were leaving for church. I put up a little bit of a fight but gave up pretty quickly. I threw on my church skirt and off we went. I had to listen to everyone in the entire church tell me I looked tired/sunburned/sweaty/dirty/etc. The mass lasted about 2.5 hours. When we came back home I was surprised to find about 25 family members at the house. Apparently we were having a surprise birthday party for my 94 year old abuelo (which everyone neglected to mention to me). I endured 25 more lectures about my sunburn/bugbites/general appearance. We took pictures, ate cake, danced, and listened to my abuelo tell stories. Around 11pm I finally excused myself, showered, and fell into bed and could have slept for days straight. Don’t worry…I didn’t….my host mom was knocking at my door for church at 8am 🙂
All in all, I’m calling my first Colombian Semana Santa a win. Here’s to next year!
Until next time…paz y amor.
To see all of the pictures from the trip click here.