Already behind 4 days on my essays and I get an email out of the blue that my cousin Denyse is in Quito, Ecuador learning Spanish. I invited her to come visit me in Taganga and before I knew it she had booked a flight to Cartegena to arrive the next day! I was a bit nervous about her getting to Taganga on her own. She's very capable but so many things can go wrong traveling in South America. I went to bed early and got up at 4am to try and catch a cab into Santa Marta to reach the bus station. I was afraid it would take forever to catch a cab but lucky me it was the morning after the Festival of Lights. Walking down the hill I could hear at least 3 competing stereos blaring music for those who didn't want the party to end and there were lots of drunk partied-out tourists rolling into Taganga well into the wee hours.
Everything went swimmingly until I hopped into the wrong cab in Cartegena. Why was it the wrong cab? Ugh, the beat-up piece of junk broke down five minutes into the ride and almost made me late for Denyse's flight arrival. When we finally arrived at the airport he started yelling and screaming at me that I hadn't paid him enough even though we'd already agreed to the fee beforehand. I had to talk to two police officers and I have to say, my Spanish is excellent! I was clear and concise and explained the situation. They asked me to pay an extra $1 to shut the guy up and I was fine with that as I just wanted it all to end. Denyse arrived moments later to find me decompressing from the experience with endless cigarettes.
We headed into the old part of Cartegena to get a little lunch before heading back to the bus station for the journey back to Taganga. I was exhausted and slept most of the way til we jumped in the cab and pulled around the mountain to the first view of Taganga. I got Denyse a dorm bed near me and introduced her to a few of my friends before heading down to chow down on the local Taganga specialty of fried whole fish with coconut rice and patacones (fried starchy banana). A little beer and little rum and we were off to bed. We headed out the next morning to the next door beach called playa grande. Not before, of course, I made sure Denyse sampled some of the delicious fresh juices sold along the beach. She was adamant about wanting a floatie so we picked one of those up too and caught a small boat ferry to the beach.
Lots of sunning ourselves, Colombian shrimp ceviche, alcohol and yet another delicious fish lunch. It was so relaxing, I can't believe that I never really take advantage of the beaches here. Especially since I've been working so hard on these essays. It made for a great break. We were supposed to go out that night but we were feeling pretty lazy. Got up early to hit the beach for more of the same. I woke up before anyone and decided to run into town to get some more cash and was annoyed to find my account blocked. I figured the networks were down so I stopped my the dive shop to let them know I'd need to cash out some of my earnings that afternoon before we headed back to Cartegena.
Tired from another day of beach lounging but flush with cash I hopped a direct bus to Cartegena with Denyse in tow. Finding a taxi at the bus terminal was ridiculously complicated as there was a line but no one was paying any attention to it. We finally made it into the traveler area where we found a little room, ate pizza and hit the hay. Spent Denyse's last day touring the old part of Cartegena for some photo ops, shopping and a having a drink on an open patio. The day zipped by and before I knew it I was putting her into a cab for the airport and I was hailing one for myself to get back tothe station so that I could bus it back home. I hope she had fun. I certainly did. It put me yet another 4 days behind in my application essays but I remember being a silly little worker in SF, just out of school, and Denyse had come to visit. I couldn't fathom asking my boss for even a single day off to hang out with her and her friend. I think I've grown!