Santa Marta


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Santa Marta is on the northeastern coast of Columbia at the foothill of La Sierra Nevada, the highest coastal range, 18,942 feet, in the world. It is an old city, founded in 1525, and quickly getting modern with its population of 410,000.

The brochure stated a fee of $3.00 each for a cab into town; $15 dollars each for a one hour tour. I went to the front cab in line and asked in my scrambled Spanish how much for a ride into El Centro.

Within 2 seconds the boss of the area was telling me it was $15 each. No, I just want to go one way into town I Spanglished. Several security personnel joined our little group. Boss said $15. I said 3, security argued amongst themselves and finally, in a split decision, settled on $15 each. I looked at the sawed off shotguns, stopped arguing and went out of the cab area, where we decided to take an hour tour in a bus for $10 each.img_2508.JPG

Our guide Ivan spoke English and was studying Journalism. Our other guide, Betty (not the ugly one she said), had limited English, but knew a lot about the areas we passed through. She would tell Ivan in Spanish what was out there, and he would tell us in English. The only snag was at our knees. All the bus seats were made for natives of Billy Bartyville.img_2510.JPG Most couples aboard could not sit together, and still be sure of blood circulation.

We found Santa Marta divided by a ridge into two main areas; the city of Santa Marta,img_2520.JPG

and a city which our guide Ivan pronounced three times. We still have no idea what it is called as he rolled “r’s” and about four other letters. It is where most tourists go, and the more wealthy Colombians have their homes.img_2513.JPG

But both areas have lovely beaches,img_2517.JPG the ones on the” rich” side have cabanas so that beach goers can escape the sun. It was 85 degrees with humidity topping 80%.img_2518.JPG

Security was, in all places, clearly evident; police, private guards, and army.img_2528.JPG

The last stop on our tour was a gold museum, no photos allowed. While Michael perused both gold jewelry and a mummy’s face, I wandered around the adjacent park. I wanted to take a photo of a charming vendor,img_2530.JPG but she made me shoot one of Simon Bolivar first.


I walked the park while waiting for the tour group to come back to the bus. Suddenly a woman in her late 40’s started to wiggle her hips, and motion me towards her. Obviously, business was not good, and I looked like the score of the day. I smiled, and said no. Never smile at a Columbian prostitute. The chase was on. After I sought refuge on the bus, she started banging on the door and windows trying to get at me. A rare seduction technique.

When we returned to the port it was obvious the tide was out.img_2532.JPG Of course there were stalls of stuff just outside the gate, and one or two beggars. The most aggressive, a woman who had her children selling bits of candy.

We spent lunch in Azamara Quest moored next to us.


Quest looked good, and some nice changes had been made both in Aqualina and Prime C. All the deck chairs were covered with fitted white towels, and the furniture had yet to fade as Quest has only been at sea for a few weeks.img_2537.JPG

After returning to Journey I went to the Windows Café to compare Journey’s offering with Quest. Ours was better.

We ran into some of the girls from last night’s show. What a treat to see this group perform. Both Michael and I agree, although there are only five of them and no lavish costumes they are the best we’ve seen in years of cruising. AND the music and voices are live, not pre-recorded nor augmented in some LA studio. They are young, so young that they have never heard of any of the game shows I’ve done, nor, and this is hard to believe, Bobby Darin. So now, I not only have to stay out of the elevator, I have to avoid talking show business with the cast.

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