After exchg bolivars ($$) into Colombian pesos at the bus terminal 20:1, we got into a por puesto car and left at 8:30am. The ride went well until we got w/in an hour of the border. Apparently, a young fellow in the front seat had no passport so we were stopped at almost every police´control´ point which occurred, I swear, every 3 to 5 kms. Here the driver (who had obviously been thru the routine many times before) took 20-50b from the kid and folded it up into a little bundle to pay off the cop via a handshake usually. This took place perhaps 6-8 times, I'm guessing it cost the kid as much as $50 US but it worked! Also, as we got closer the road deteriorated more and more until we were slowing to a stop every 2-300 yds for breaks or huge potholes in the road!
No problems at the borders, we paid our 67b exit fee to Venezuela and were welcomed warmly into Colombia. At the bus terminal in Maicara, the border town, we got a bus to Santa Marta which left at 11:15am Colombia time - we'd lost an hour at the border. There was a dramatic change in the road condition for the better and litter was almost non-existant, almost! There were places which resembled Venezuela w.r.t. litter but fewer and further between.
The countryside remained a flat, tortured rain forest until we neared the coast when mtns presented themselves and the land became much greener rainforest as well as more agriculture...cattle, banana/platanos (bagged here, thus for export), and palm oil plantations. Compared to Venez., Colombia looks quite prosperous, even the shack-type houses of the poor look maintained! Onward, some 20 km from S.M. the road follows a quite clear of sediment (vs ones in Venez which looked muddied everywhere we went) river, and we pass no less the 6 very nice looking nurseries, plants and grounds well organized and presentation very business-like.
Bus dropped us off alongside the road outside S.M....discouraging since they said they were going TO S.M....so we had to hire a cab to take us to the terminal. Here Bon spent considerable time trying to get info/messages to and from Mari so we might be able to make boat or plane plans. Not successful...no answer from Mari which could give us any direction. The only possible boat leaves on the 28th/1st and Mari indicated it would not be possible to make that date. So it is just the 2 of us to decide and we need more input...possibly only once we are in Cartagena! Ended up in Hospedaje Casa Familiar
in the center of town, a long taxi ride from bus but our debating was very tiring and needed to find a place w/ internet (just half a block away).
Now here just relaxing for a day after a marathon by Bon yesterday making the reservations needed for travel onward to MX. We came to a dead end in trying to get more info about sailboats lvg Cartagena during the next 10 days. The only contact we had was thru Casa Vienna in C. where the gal who spoke English, Anna, was pretty much no help whatsoever. After emailing many times and calling at least 3 times we came to the conclusion that she had no info and what she did have was incorrect ie she gave us a website for a boat she claimed was leaving on the 28th, but when Bon checked it out and contacted the captain directly, he replied - right away - he was very sorry, but his boat was in Panama at the moment and would not be back until sometime in March! Our frustrations mounted to the point that it no longer was possible to wait and see if we were to save ANY money on flights to Panama.
Once we decided to bag the boat, Bon made reservations for flying from Cartagena on the 28th. Likewise, this made the decision easy for flying up to Los Moches since what we will be seeing in Panama will not take more than 6-8 days, so we fly up to MX on the 10th of March. We were able to connect w/ Todd, our son in MT who celebrates a birthday the 20th, and between Bon and Todd they worked out a Bday present/flight to Baja on the 23rd to return the 31st! Great work to all concerned, especially Bon, who has hassled w/ trying to put this all together for the last 2-3 weeks. We originally hoped that a boat would come thru and Bon's sister, Mari, would be able to join us in Cartagena. This does not look like a possibility especially since we've opted out of the boat and Mari could not get to Cartagena in time for anything sooner than the 28th even if there were a boat. Now it looks like we will meet up w/ Mari somewhere in Panama, if not before the 10th, at least on the 10th since we bought 3 tickets to Los Moches, ha!
Most of today was spent seeing more of Santa Marta Santa Marta
(our usual mode, the city buses - cheap tour), plus a trip to Taganga, a small, semi-hippy village/beach known for it's diving and snorkel tour companies.