The infectious vallenato music is thumping out from almost every corner. An open-air party bus passes by the palm-lined street and the smell of the Caribbean Sea is heavy in the air. It’s Friday night in Santa Marta and things are starting to get down. Like many other places in Colombia, years ago this scene would have never existed. Drugs and prostitutes ruled the crumbling colonial streets here in the very same places where, today, vendors sell beach chairs and sarongs to tourists passing through.
Posts tagged ‘architecture’
Santa Cruz de Mompox, or simply Mompox (spelled also Mompos/j), could certainly be considered one of the roads less traveled and one that contains many treasures for those willing to seek it out. This historic city, which lies on the Rio Magdalena, is far removed from main roads, making getting here an adventure in itself. The 16th century colonial architecture is extremely well preserved and earned the city a nod from UNESCO back in 1995.
Laurent and I arrived in Cartagena, Colombia on April 29, 2014. This was to be the start of the second half of our Latin American journey and we couldn’t have picked a better place to begin! Bold, colorful and simply irresistible, it’s sure to win over even the most critical traveler.
The north of Argentina has one of the most beautiful landscapes in all of the country, if not all of South America. You can drive from thick jungle mountains to giant cactus filled deserts one day and on other days find yourself in cloudforests or standing in front of ancient Andean ruins. One of the biggest, if not the best, wine countries lie in this region, in Cafayate. Salta is the major city in this region and it's filled with animated peñas where you can hear the traditional music sung live, and visit beautiful churches decked out in colonial architecture.
Did you know you all have an inner gaucho? Well you do and I recently discovered mine. In case you don't know, gauchos are the South American version of the North American cowboy. Riding over the pampas on their horse with no name, the nomadic gauchos lived their lives by hunting cattle. Much like the cowboys, guachos were thought to be the honest, strong, silent types, but proud and capable of violence when necessary. Gauchos often carried a faćon (ginormous, sharp knife) tucked into their pockets and they often used only their faćon for eating. They ate, almost exclusively, meat. Even though I am a former vegetarian, I long to be a gaucho. Waving around my faćon, eating my beef and laying in the sun. I finally had the chance.
We took the ferry from Colonia del Sacremento back to Buenos Aires. Since we didn't get to see too much of the city the first time we were there, we felt we owed it to BA to explore some of it's beautiful parts. We only had two more days but we were not disappointed. We stayed at the same hostel, Terrazas Estoril because on Thursday evenings they host a huge asado complete with live tango music. And since it was Thursday when we arrived, the timing was perfect. The tango band was pretty good and it was especially nice on the hostels rooftop. The sunset and the views from here are stunning.
After the storm came in Cabo Polonio, it continued to be rainy and dreary. So we decided to start our journey back. This meant going west back towards Montevideo. A long bus ride on a very crowded bus (where Laurent had to stand for over 2 hours!) deposited us back off in the city. We stayed there overnight, had another fabulous steak dinner and the next afternoon, we left for Colonia del Sacremento.
Discovered in 1680, Colonia sits right on the water and was a crucial smuggling port back in the day. The Portugese and Spanish fought heavily over it. But in the end, the Spanish won.
Originally we were going to start in Brazil. I was very excited by this prospect. I wanted a big beginnning. The food, the culture and the sheer size and diversity of Brazil make it worthy of a bombastic start. But things changed. Plans got tweaked. Brazil got pushed. I was okay with it. After all, I'm a roll with the punches kind of gal (most of the time). So Laurent figured out a new route (that's his department, by the way). The new route is perfect. I think it solves the Brazil visa issue (more on that later) and it hits all the places we want to be at almost the right times of the year. The only thing I was originally slightly disappointed with was the start. Uruguay. Really? We're going to start there? In this stangely named country? It seemed fine as an after thought, a fourth or fifth stop but our first destination?! Who the heck goes to Uruguay? People from all around the world go to Brazil but who plans a trip to Uruguay?! Well, apparently we do. And you should too. I am a new convert to Uruguay's awesomeness. Yes, it really is! And hopefully I'll convince you why.