I was trying so hard to not be grumpy. I mean, I was on a Carribean island for Christ’s sake.
The night before, the three other women in my four bed hostel room came in speaking very loudly at 1am. They turned on the light, continued their loud conversation despite my grumbling at, you know, having been asleep only moments before. At 4:30 am, one of their alarms went off at heart attack volume level, she turned the main light on again to noisely pack up her shit and leave twenty minutes later. My usual wake up time is a little before 6, even on vacation, and it is unfortunately difficult for me to go back to sleep if I’m up close to 5. Horray four hours of sleep.
In the morning, the Cartagena hostel’s (bad) breakfast is served so late that I didn’t have time to do more than quickly get a handful of sips of my coffee in before I had to leave to get on a boat roster to Isla Grande in the Rosario Islands. The hostel’s email gave somewhat helpful information about this process, but it’s much more chaotic than the email suggests. The ticket windows are for your taxes. Pretty much just find one of a bazillion pushy ticket vendors walking around and get an actual boat ticket from them. But dealing with pushy sales people is frustrating even when you’re not tired, already hot, sans coffee, all that. I got a ticket and the sat under a canapoy while my particular boat’s list of passengers filled up and hoped that someone would actually call my name like they said they would.
They did. I got on a boat, and about an hour later, I was deposited at the beach for my hostel. Where I spent an hour waiting for the check in process to go through.
The hostel makes a big deal about being a “community of hostels” – there’s half a dozen or so pretty but old buildings and they’re each “separate” – but really, if you’re staying on a hostel on Isla Grande, you are staying in effectively the same hostel. These identical buildings were allegedly made in the 1970s by some guy who had less than legal means of making money and wanted a resort. So it has the sort of aging, forgotten resort feel to the place and was only relatively recently reclaimed from the jungle.
When I finally got to my actual hostel and made coffee (!) in the kitchen, then thought I’d wander around the island a bit. I thought maybe the town would have food to buy (it doesn’t, or at least not beyond the usual store-in-someone’s-house level of food), and cursed the lack of information available about the island before I signed up for a two day stay here. I will likely do a separate post detailing how to prepare for a trip here – but the key thing is that there’s a difference between saying, “bring water” as the hostel does in its email and saying “bring enough drinking water for your whole stay as there may or may not actually be drinking water when you get here.” The restaurant at the hostel also ran out of food, and water, several times over the course of my stay, as it did for that first lunch.
So, it took me awhile of wandering around in the sun looking for food. Too long for my grumpy, hangry self. I had lunch around 3pm. There’s a restaurant about a ten minute walk through the windy forest paths (which are the roads here) that sells truly excellent food. As far as I can tell, it is one of only a handful of options to eat here, so the fact that it’s tasty is good. The options were fried fish, lobster, or calamari. I had a lot of calamari on this trip, as while I’ll literally eat whatever you put in front of me, fish and lobster are at the bottom of the list of things I enjoy eating. And those were pretty much the options, period.
So, for that first day, I had a very quick dip in the ocean on a beach at the other side of the island, got lost in the very poor town at the center of things (I spotted a Peace Corps painting on a building somewhere: despite the lack of ammenitites, an assignment here would not suck), ate calamari, and then checked out the (less nice) beach at the hostel for a bit. The water everywhere is like bathwater. Very green, clear, bathwater. With bits of stone, broken coral, and seaweed scraping your feet as you go, but that’s easy enough to ignore, especially in light of how damn pretty it all is.
The next day was better and less grumpy – I’d taken to buying the overpriced water available wherever I found it, and I met a lovely woman in my hostel over coffee and went back to the beach on the other end of things with her for the morning. I ran out of my SPF 30 bottle I’d brought with me from the States and tried to eek a little more out of it while alternating with the SPF 15 moisturizer I bought here in Colombia. What a place to run out of sunscreen.
After a good conversation, we parted ways around lunch time, where I went back to The Nice Restaurant (the food at the hostel is not good), ate lunch, and swam at the beach there a bit before heading back to the hostel for a shower, a cocktail, and journaling.
So, I’ll likely spend my morning in my long sleeve shirt in a hammock at the hostel, finishing up my fantasy novel which I perhaps optimistically thought would be the end of a series. In the afternoon, back to Cartagena.