Welcome to Columbia Sugar Shack! We were woke up at 0830, after 4 hours of sleep, because were ready to get in the marina and see Santa Marta, Columbia. The marina instructed us to head to E dock which is the first dock you see at the entrance to the marina. The winds were light but it seemed like they were blowing from all different directions. We typically like to be nose into the wind for the optimum wind flow inside. The staff instructed us to go stern in which Matt expertly accomplished. No easy task as our neighbor’s dinghy was tied to the side of his boat in the middle of the slip.
We secured the boat to the dock and headed to the office to check in. The marina provides an agent who helps you with the clearance process. However, since it was Saturday the agent was not working, so we supplied the necessary paper work and turned over our passports.
Everything is sophisticated and secure here at the marina. Your fingerprint gives you access to the bathrooms, showers, and the dock gate. We did a cursory look around the marina, which includes a small mini market with snacks, soda, beer, and some chandlery items. There is a large outdoor gathering space, a small laundry area, captain’s quarters with AC, TV and wifi, men’s and women’s showers and an office. The entire space is very clean and pretty.
Next we decided to explore the town of Santa Marta. Just about everything can be found off the main road, Calle 22. Streets with “calle” run perpendicular to the waterfront and streets with “Carrera” are parallel.
We quickly found an ATM so we could get local currency. Columbia uses the Colombian peso and the exchange rate is about 3000 pesos to $1 U.S. dollar. After you get $200 from the ATM you feel rich because their money is in the millions. This image is 523, 000 pesos or about $174.00.
Pesos use a lot of zeros-which makes it really confusing when purchasing goods. I know my numbers, but not into the millions.
To make it even more confusing, they have several denominations that have old and new versions in circulation. For example, the 5,000 peso and the 2,000 pesos below:
We came across a HUGE store called Exito that was part Walmart, Target, and Vons. It was overwhelming, while at the same time clean, organized, and well stocked. We roamed around a little bit more and found another market called Carulla Market which was like a mini Trader Joe’s. All the fruits and veggies were lined up neat in a row and the shelves were well stocked.
Typical beer run. The employees thought we were crazy wanting 8 cases of beer or (ocho cajas de cerveza). They kept thinking we wanted 8 six packs of beer. After a lot of pointing and reaffirming, they got more cases from the back and loaded us up. The cashier then questioned us a lot, but finally rung up the order, then the security guard stopped us and had to radio in to his supervisor. Crazy Americans! And what they don’t know is this is just to get us started. We are loading up before the San Blas islands. Beer here is $0.66 per beer.
On the way back to the boat, we passed by Barry (“Adventures of an Old Sea Dog“) and he told us about an impromptu happy hour. Cruisers buy beers from the mini market for 2500 pesos and meet at the gathering space. It was great to see several other boaters that we’ve met in Curacao, Bonaire and Aruba.
Do you remember us talking about these boats?
- White Shadow
- Itchy Foot?
They are all here in Columbia! We’ve also recognized several other boats from previous anchorages but we don’t know them as well yet – give us time.
Really pretty sunset from this spot, I could get used to these sunsets in Colombia!
Santa Marta is considered pretty safe and has a decent public transit system. In addition there are a ton of taxis running around that can probably get you anywhere in town for about 3000-5000 pesos. Food and beverages are pretty darn inexpensive so it offsets the price of the marina which is nice.
Mia on “Itchy Foot” and I decided to start a walking club. We meet each morning at 0700 to explore the shores. Matt decided to join us one day as we were heading to the top of a mountain that he wanted to see. We had heard it was a mile to the trail and a mile up the mountain, but as it turned out, we walked up and over to the other city which became a 7.2 mile walk! We ventured up over Cerro Ziruma (a national park split in half by the road we walked on) into Santa Marta Central.
This gorgeous wall lined a small section of the street on our way over the hill.
We ran into several colorful buses and trucks:
And we’ve seen beautiful architecture and artwork which represents many artists in Columbia.
It is wicked hot with little breeze so Matt put up our cabin cover. We officially feel like white trash but at least it’s cooler inside.