Parque Tayrona, Colombia

I want you to take a good look at the picture below.  See the calming greenery and homey roof?  This was the end location after a crazy day of travels, mishaps, and learning about quirks in a new country.  Colombia had been pretty tame up until now, nothing stolen from us, no one had been jumped...  But get ready for a pretty crazy story of trying to get from point A to point B.
We woke up in Cartagena, had some breakfast and checked out of our hotel, normal, right?  We then split up in two taxis, heading to the bus station that would take us to Santa Marta.  From there, we would take another bus or taxi to the entrance of Parque Tayrona, a National Park with no cars allowed inside, and the location of our next place to stay.  The hotel guy who called us the taxis told the first driver where to head, then snagged another taxi and told him where to head too.  Matt and I were in the second taxi, and expected the other taxi to beat us there.  When they weren't right outside, we strolled around inside for a bit looking for them.  It was soon clear that they weren't there, and we had no ability to call and figure out where we'd all gone wrong.  We were sure we were at the right place, and luckily the other guys realized they were at the wrong place, went back to the hotel to ask where we had headed, got in a different taxi and headed back to us.  This took a bit of time, and we missed a few buses to Santa Marta.  But no worries!  We got on the next one, for pretty cheap, and then proceeded to listen to a guy on a microphone try to sell us stuff the entire ride there.  We stopped in many towns, and dropped people off, and picked people up.  At one point, we stayed in a town long enough that the driver was trying to drum up business and convince people to take the bus.  We were now very worried about getting to the Park before dark, which is when the Park closes.  We got to Santa Marta as the sun was setting, and started to get on another bus, when some very pushy taxi drivers started saying they could take us to the park entrance for cheaper.  We didn't believe any of them, but for some reason, one driver Brian got through, and suddenly we were packing our bags on top of his car with ropes, and Izzy was making this skeptical face (below).  We piled in, barely able to fit, and he blasted terrible pop music while we sped along, only listening to about 30 seconds of a song at top volume, before switching it to another song.  It was nuts.  We got to the park with a closed gate, and tried to convince the guards that our hotel was inside the park, but they said we should have a confirmation email to prove it, and we didn't have that, only a booking email.  We now desperately tried to find internet to call our hotel, while Brian drove us around to several bars and convenience stores that some locals said "might" have internet.  It was now fully dark, and looking pretty hopeless.  There was one more place to try, and Brian, Izzy, and Matt disappeared into the darkness in search of the internet.  They came back, saying that we would have to sort this out in the morning, but for now we had a place to sleep.  We went down a dirt path, crossed a stream on a few wooden boards, and went back up a hill.  In the darkness, we could barely make out that homey thatched roof, but were already being offered plates of dinner.  We had somehow stumbled upon paradise. 
Granted it was all dark as we made this journey, so it was tough to tell that it wasn't sketch at first, but once there we realized it was paradise, like I said.  We met the owners of the place, and two wonderful ladies staying there already.  It might have been the best part of the trip- having more company to play games with (Matt always brings games), and there was breakfast and dinner served every day.  There was a room large enough for all 5 of us, which was actually like it's own house.  We quickly voted and decided we'd stay here several nights if we couldn't get a hold of the other hotel.  Which long story short, is exactly what we ended up doing.  We couldn't even find the hotel once we went to the park in the morning, but it was for the best, we enjoyed staying outside of the park instead of inside, and we loved our new friends and hosts.
We did go to the Park the next day though.  We walked to the entrance, meeting some feisty local wildlife along the way.
We watched a video about respecting the national park, and then hiked our way to the furthest beach.  It would take an hour or two, and I really struggled to keep up on the sand portion (also I kept stopping to take pictures), but we made it!  We swam for a bit, had some snacks, and hiked back!  You can't swim at several of the beaches, due to strong currents, but we enjoyed the views everywhere!
This is where I fell way behind, my little feet just couldn't keep up on the loose sand.
But we made it!  We were sweaty and totally ready to jump in the water and cool off.
Coconut snack thing- sort of like a granola bar but coconut.
And then back we go!  We wanted to make sure we were back to our new hotel by dark.
Some better views of our new place :-)
Breakfast was a bowl of fruit, two arepas, and scrambled eggs.  There got to be a black market between us of trading eggs for arepas and different types of fruit for others.
There was also a delicious treat of rice pudding at dinner.  Izzy requested it for breakfast too, and to our delight our hosts delivered.  We never wanted to leave.
Instead of heading back to Parque Tayrona for another day, we took a taxi up to a different hike that promised a waterfall at the end.  We played in that water too :-)
And a few random pictures from my phone!
We made a deal with Brian to come back and pick us up for our flight back to Bogota, and sure enough, he came and got us.  But not before we had a relaxing morning to ourselves.  My feet were pretty torn up from hiking in old shoes, so I hammocked.
One last look at the scenery before take-off.
We ate at our favorite arepas place in Bogota, and took early taxis to the airport the next morning. 
And I know it's boring when people post airplane window views, but come on, gorgeous!
And scene.

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