She Swims with the Fishes (Part Deux)…or in Spanish, (Part Dos)

I certainly couldn’t come to Taganga, the place with the most dive shops per square metre in the world, and NOT get on a boat. While I could have spent the entire 4 days here and ended up with my diver certification, I’m saving that experience for another time, maybe for Honduras, but that’s another possible adventure…and snorkel instead.

DSCN0178

So I got on yet another dive boat as the sole snorkeler.

DSCN0143

DSCN0179

And it was the most amazing snorkel of my life! 2 sites, several hours and many self recriminations about not having an underwater camera later, I am a happy camper/swimmer. Someone, anyone, DO NOT let me get on another plane to a tropical destination without an underwater camera, even if it is one of those crappy disposable ones, no matter how much I protest…I’m just being an idiot and you can tell me as much, and that I’ll just regret it so buy one already!

I can’t even begin to tell you…. iridescent fish, puffer fish, red fish, blue fish, star fish, needle fish, gigantic schools of dancing fish, fan coral, brain coral, coral that looked like little cacti, striped fish, polka dot fish, fish with markings that looked like giant eyes…

And best of ALL…

The turtle!

This is not my turtle, but is a reasonable facsimile. This is also clearly not my photo... my thanks to the photographer.
This is not my turtle, but is a reasonable facsimile. This is also clearly not my photo… my thanks to the photographer.

The turtle that only I saw. Not the divers, with their sophisticated underwater breathing apparatuses… me, with a mask and a snorkel and some fins. The same snorkeler who was the only one among the divers in Isla Rosario to see the manta rays. Now tell me… does it makes sense to do all that work (diving has a lot of gear and regulations and steps), to not see the thing that everyone ends up taking about? Hells to the no!

And between dives/snorkels, we had lunch… in paradise. Oceano scuba owns their own beach hut on the hillside. Muy tranquillo.

DSCN0147

Hut view... did some yoga before the dive boat returned. :-)
Hut view… did some yoga before the dive boat returned. 🙂

There was really only one dark moment of the day. After about 30 minutes at the second dive site, I popped my head out of the water… and. There. Was. No. Boat. And suddenly I had that “Open Water” moment… you know, the movie where the divers get left overnight in the shark infested open waters of some giant ocean and, 10 minutes before the boat comes screaming back to rescue them, they remove their weight belts and float down into the deep (oops, spoiler alert…), anyway, I had that moment. So after cursing them for abandoning me and saying all kinds of nasty things in my head while at the same time calculating exactly how long it would take me to swim back to Taganga, the dive boat reappeared. Turns out the boys just went fishing for a bit, and had every intention of coming back for me.

And once again, I have beach bum hair (my hairdresser is going to have something to say about this!). And I feel all hippie-fantastic.

DSCN0192
Props to Nicole H who taught me how to do this with two bobby pins!

Totally (Beach) Bummed Out

Although Hostel Masaya in Santa Marta is absolutely lovely, by comparison Santa Marta itself is a bit run down at the edges. With a nice historical centre several busy plazas, a decent boardwalk along a not-so-lovely beach and a couple of pedestrian streets, Santa Marta is really a jumping off point for several other places.

DSCN0126
No towel swans, but still a lovely room
Cute bathroom too!
Cute bathroom too!

After wandering around the city for several hours yesterday (granted it was Sunday and that’s not the day to impress, what with everything closed), I was ready to take the collectivo bus and head for Taganga, 15 minutes, and a $0.70 ride away.

DSCN0132
Please remember your manners on the bus… no smoking and no hand guns.

Like Santa Marta, Taganga is HOT. But it’s also a beachy paradise, one the I think a lot of people get lost in. It’s not large by any means… it can be generously described as a village, but it is quite literally littered with dive shops, restaurants and hostels, making it a Mecca for those who think they should go for a couple of days, and end up staying for weeks.

These guys aren't leaving any time soon...
These guys aren’t leaving any time soon…
...and neither are they.
…and neither are they.

My typical Colombian lunch of soup, fish, coconut rice, salad and fried plantain, washed down with a beer, came to 10,000COP…or about $5. Normally I don’t eat fish, but since it was basically caught this morning and cooked to order, I couldn’t very well resist. I just don’t get deboning, though. This sucker was a bony nightmare, and while I did my best, I’m sure the proprietor thought I’d left every morsel on the fish… well not the eyes, those were gone…. I did have a very hopeful cat at my feet the entire time.

Taganga is not especially, but it is tranquillo, and even I found it hard to pull myself off the beach, away from my Anguila beer and back on the bus back to gritty Santa Marta. My hair, usually fine and straight, worked itself into my version of dreadlocks after just a few hours…