Skooter reporting 08/05/12
Palomino by the way is a town of about 4,000 people, many of whom work as fisherman, farmers or craftsmen. A couple of guesthouses are available, a few places to hire a hammock, and there is little to do but relax and laze around in the privacy, which is rarely broken up, except on Sundays when smiling local families spread out to enjoy a game of beach fútbol.
For dinner, my girlfriend prefers cooking freshly caught fish and relishing it under the diamond studded dark skies was more enjoyable than eating at the fairly pricey beachfront restaurants that cater to the area’s few tourists, but in town, there are also several cheap restaurants that sell empanadas and roasted chicken dishes.
Learning about the ancient religious traditions of how these Indian tribes live by, such as the belief that they alone are the true protectors of the planet, responsible for maintaining the world’s balance, is a great chance for few people to get to experience. While we were there we like to have more cultural adventures. So I tried to check with the management of La Sirena ecohostel about arranging a trip by horseback to stay in a traditional Kogi or Arhuaco village in the heart of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta national park. I was also informed that you can also arrange guided trips into Colombia’s most rocky region, La Guajira, a region of arid deserts and scrublands, snowy peaks and tropical rainforests that extends 8,000 square miles. The most popular destinations in La Guajira which are still hard to reach and remote from other major destinations are Punta Gallinas and Cabo de la Vela, beautiful, nearly deserted beaches populated by a variety of indigenous tribes.
At the Quebrada Valencia park, about 25 km from Palomino, 30 minutes by bus, bamboo forests, massive banyan trees and an imposing series of cascades provide shade from the stifling heat. After walking two to three kilometers along the path at the entrance of the park, a sharp and slippery climb leads to several refreshing swimming holes and cliff-jumping opportunities. From here, you can return to Palomino or catch a bus south to the happier shores of Santa Marta or Taganga, more or less 70km from Palomino and famous for sightseeing, scuba diving and partying.
A short time ago, Taganga was a sleepy fishing village a seaside retreat where the well-informed travelers could tie up a hammock for a few days of serenity. But as tourism to the neighboring city of Santa Marta amplified, backpackers discovered Taganga, and soon the number of gringos began to vie with the number of locals, dive shops sprouted all over town, and the sound of thumping reggaeton began swallowing out the sound of waves crashing against the shore throughout night.
Palomino’s nearness to the hostile border with Venezuela and the town’s controversial past caught in the middle of Colombia’s illegal drug trade and armed conflict between guerilla groups and paramilitaries can almost certainly claim some responsibility for keeping the town so empty despite being so close to Santa Marta. But if the flow in tourism to Colombia’s Caribbean coast continues, sooner or later developers would discover Palomino and its uninhabited stretch of sand.