Last year we received a beautiful invitation for the wedding of Jorge and Felice. Felice is a dear friend of mine that I already know for a long time, we met at our university and always stayed in touch. Over the past years Felice even stopped by in Dubai, and when she and Jorge lived in Buenos Aires, I was at their goodbye party, by accident (I had a flight there with KLM). Little side note, the wedding was going to take place in Santa Marta in COLOMBIA! You probably think why Colombia, but you can already feel it coming, Jorge is Colombian! haha!
I could not put in a request anymore about my summer holiday, unfortunately. So had to wait till the holidays were published. There is a whole system where you can put your holiday up for changing with somebody else and within 2 weeks everything was sorted. I got two weeks of holidays in July and the wedding was in the middle! Yeey!
Pieter was invited too, so there we went. With all the chaos at the airport I was for sure stressing out if we would make it to the gate, and then if we would get on the actual fight to Cartagena. All my colleagues I was working with the days before the flight told me, don't stress, there's always people missing their flight so you for sure get on. We were at the airport at 06.00am on a Saturday and our flight was at 10.10am. Surprise surprise we managed to pass through all the security points at exactly 08.00am. First obstacle we managed, on to the gate. We arrived at the gate pretty chilled, until the lady from the ground staff told us, oef, this is not looking too good, everybody checked in, so we think everybody will show up. Sh*t...... Then the crew came, I was checking if I knew anybody, but I didn't know anybody. The ground staff was talking to the captain about the standby crew and he nodded in a way saying everything will be fine. Around 10.05am we were called to the ground staff and she handed our boarding passes, mine was going to the cockpit and Pieter had the jumpseat in the back. We had the very very last available seats on the plane! Woehoe! The mother of one of the pilots was also on the flight so in the end we had one jumpseat and one normal seat. I started on the jumpseat for take off and then swapped with Pieter after 4 hours. He actually liked sitting there, all the space in the world and just chilling while he was getting a VIP treatment by the crew with nice snacks.
Most important thing was that we were on the flight and on our way to Cartagena, first stop Bogota! At Bogota we had to leave the aircraft and go through security again and fly another hour to Cartagena. Once we got on the plane again, the senior purser told us, now we have space in Business Class, you can sit there for the last hour! We were so happy, even for an hour! I slept the whole way.
Once we finally arrived in Cartagena we took a taxi to our hotel. Hanneke, my friend, was also on the same flight as us so we shared a taxi to the city centre. Because we were travelling on standby I booked a cheap hotel, just in case we didn't make it on the flight it would not that expensive to spend a night shorter in Cartagena. Well, this is a mistake that I will probably hear for the rest of my life. The room we got allocated was somewhere in the back, without any windows and the ceiling was very short. It was so short that Pieter could not stand up straight. Whoops...
The first night we had dinner in the area Getsemani with Hanneke, but we were so tired and jetlagged that straight after dinner we went to bed. The next day we did one of those free walking tours, that you only give a tip at the end. But it was our first day and we had to adjust to the head, it was about 35 degrees celsius and full sun. We had to drink a lot of water.
We stayed two night in Cartagena and then we took a boat to one of the Rosario Islands. That morning it was even cloudy and some rain, and once we were on the boat and left the harbor we got into a bit of storm. While we were on the boat I saw a sword fish jumping out of the water 3 times, so cool! Once we finally arrived at our island it was time to relax. We had a very cute small cabana next to the sea. The ceiling was so high you couldn't even reach it even if you wanted, even Pieter couldn't reach it! Points for me booking a proper accommodation! Winning! The next day we did a boat tour around the islands and we even saw one of Pablo Escobar's houses, and even his plane that crashed into the sea right in front of it. There's not more you can do on an island besides playing Qwixx, reading a book, chilling, swim in the sea and eat and drink. But that was fine by me, I needed to detox from the fast world for a minute and just don't do anything else.
After the Rosario Islands we went back to Cartagena for another two night before heading to Santa Marta for the wedding. Those days in Cartagena we just went to a mall, the highest rooftop of Cartagena and we already met some of the other wedding guest for a drink. From Cartagena it is about a 4 hour drive to Santa Marta. We shared a taxi with another couple that was also going to the wedding.
During the drive we same some small villages that are extremely poor, a big contrast than with Cartagena where tourism is thriving in the city. They told us as well, that the further you go beyond Palomino, which is a bit further then Santa Marta, it is more dangerous and more crimes are happening there. So we made sure to not go further then Tayrona (which is in between Santa Marta and Palomino).
Jorge and Felice organized a small gathering on Friday evening for everybody to meet each other and there would be a special performance, little did we know we were going to do salsa dancing for about an hour and a half. All the dutch people that were there were not the best salsa dancers (good thing I don't know how it works with videos on blogspot). It was lovely to see everybody again and sharing travel stories. By now I know these girls already for 10 years, all from our university.
Saturday was the BIG day! In the morning at breakfast you could feel the tension some people had, but Jorge and Felice were probably the most chilled persons in the morning! Around 1ish the first girls came to my room for their hair and make-up. I offered to do it, since I am good with hair and make-up. Within an hour the whole room turnt into a beautysalon with some bubbles to start the celebrations. In the end I think I did the hair of 6 people and about 3 also their make-up. The mistake I made when I was younger, was leaving myself to the end. This time I was fully ready to do everybody's hair and not having to stress about my own.
At 15.40pm we had to go down for the shuttle to pick us up and drive to the location. The location was in one word majestical. The view was beautiful, on one side there was an area where the ceremony was being held, on the other side were two long tables for dinner, and just before that was a dance floor with lights as a ceiling in the open air.
The ceremony was held by a dear friend of Felice and Jorge, Lineke, and also some indigenous people of Colombia, super special.
After the ceremony the guests had a little drink while the newlyweds had a photoshoot. After the drink we even had a speech by one of Jorge his friends, and then it was time for dinner. Where Felice her father did a speech, the sister of Jorge as well, and Felice her little sister even sang a song acapella. But save the best for last, was of course the party.
We had so much fun celebrating the love we have for Jorge and Felice. Apparently in Colombia it is 'normal' to have what they call, 'hora loca' (crazy hour), and within seconds the whole dance floor was filled with inflatables, wigs, and other party attributes. Put on the song Links-Rechts and the party went through the roof, if there would be any! At 01.00am the party finished and we went back to the hotel, tired but with memories to last a lifetime.
The day after, we all had a hangover. But all we had to do was chill by the pool. For dinner we went to the city of Santa Marta with a group of 12 people. The next day we all left for the next adventure on our trip. Pieter and I left for Minca with a few others. It was raining all day and we even had to take a motor to our hotel, since normal cars don't go that far up the mountain. After a busy weekend it was nice to relax for a moment and don't do anything.
On Tuesday we went to the hotel where some of our friends were staying to do this hike up a waterfall. The waterfall wasn't the most beautiful I have seen, but it was lovely to spend some more time together. In the afternoon we left to go to a hotel close by Tayrona National Park. The next day we left in the early morning to go to the park. We started at the 'common' entrance called El Zaino, and from there we walked 1.5 hour to our first stop, Cabo San Juan. This hike is pretty known in Colombia and you can even do it on flip-flops.
But the second hike to Playa Brava was very intense and it took us 2.5 hours. The first hour/hour and a half it was very intense walking up a mountain. The scenery was beautiful and we even heard some monkeys howling. We only packed one backpack for the park, otherwise you have to carry everything with you. Good thing I have a strong guy with me who can carry most of the backpack! :D
Playa Brava can only be reached by walking, and we had this beautiful private ecolodge for the two of us on the beach. In total I think there stayed around 20 people, because you can also rent a hammock for the night.
The next day in the early morning we left after breakfast to walk out of the park through the exit called Calabazos, this took us again a full hour walking up the mountain to then take some motors for the last bit, we were done walking.
Back at the hotel where we left our bags, the guy from the hotel drove us to Santa Marta (otherwise we had to wait 1.5 hour for a taxi), and from there we took the bus back to Cartagena. Which took another 4.5 hours. Back in Cartagena it was our final night before heading back to Amsterdam, if of course we would get on the flight. Luckily this time the girl at the check-in desk told us there were 5 people travelling on standby and Pieter and I were number 2 and 3, so that was a big relief! We even got Economy Comfort seats and that was the end of a lovely two weeks travelling in Cartagena, with the highlight of attending the wedding of Jorge and Felice. A trip to remember, and for Pieter the first time to Colombia, but definitely not his last. The people are lovely, the food is good, and relativity cheap compared to European cities. Big diversity as well, if you want to chill there are some islands, if you want to hike you have many parks where you can do this and even visit big cities like Medellin or Bogota, Colombia has it all, so definitely worth a visit if you ask me!
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