Travel from Capurgana to Medellin

Ugh!!!  This was probably the most irritating portion of my trip overall.  Hence why I’m even mentioning it… So others can avoid what I had to endure!!

So I chose the boat way out of Capurgana mainly because… well, I will admit it, I’m cheap!  When it comes to traveling, every “dollar” counts so between spending about $180 for a plane to Medellin or around maybe $50 for the boat and bus to Medellin, well, the boat and bus won out.  However, looking back perhaps I should have simply taken the dang plane!!

So it all began in the morning.  My bag was packed and I had to purchase a ticket for the boat out.  I opted for the first boat out so I could have the day traveling (thank goodness I chose this!!!) Tickets could not be purchased much in advance, so I recall just being able to do so the morning of.  I got on the boat (after having my bag weighed in case it was too heavy to ride, or an extra charge would be added) with dozens of other people.  I was in the very front of the motor boat and had to endure several splashes of water hitting my face for the hour it took to get to Turbo.

Honestly the ride wasn’t THAT bad… just interesting… We arrived in Turbo, and let me tell you it’s absolutely NOT the kind of place that anyone would want to spend any sort of real time… It literally is just a pass on through town; a place where people are shipped in and out of… that’s it!  The water was dirty and oil slicked, the town was dumpy and very busy.  Just not at all like the lovely village I had just come from.

Anyway, I hoped off the motor boat and had to catch a bus to Medellin.  However, no buses actually came into the dock area of Turbo.  So I then had to hop on the back of a dirt bike/motorcycle (with my 72 liter backpack and all), hold on for dear life and get zoomed in and out of various streets until we were literally heading out of town and then dropped off on the side of the road to an unmarked area where the bus would eventually show… I would seriously have been panicking a bit more than I was  (at least in my head… I was trying to stay cool on the exterior) had it not been for a couple of other random people also standing on the side of the road waiting for the bus.

Now, perhaps it’s a good time to mention that from the start of arriving in Turbo I had what I guess you could call a travel coordinator.  This was a guy who simply asked people who arrived on the boat where they wanted to go and arranged for them to be taken there in a very loose way.  This is how I knew to get on the motorcycle and be transferred to the bus… Now when the bus actually arrived (YAY, I wasn’t being mis-lead!!) the “travel coordinator” also showed up.  I got on the bus and he followed me on saying that I needed to pay for the bus ticket… or so I thought… I understood that what I was paying was for the bus ticket, however it wasn’t.  It was apparently for his “services” in organizing everything.  So I paid him thinking it was the bus ticket, and to boot paid him too much because my brain was frazzled from the activity and couldn’t do math correctly at the time, and thought that was the end of it.  He of course got off the bus before we parted…

So then there I was on the bus to Medellin, when about a half hour later we pulled into a bus terminal… The bus driver at this point announced that those who were just joining the bus had to buy their tickets now.

Hold on a sec… buy my tickets NOW????  I’ve been on the bus for half an hour… and I’ve already paid that other guy (though stupidly I didn’t think that it was odd at the time that I wasn’t given a bus ticket in return for the money since I thought that guy worked for the bus company… stupid!!).  So…. Yea, I tried to explain to the driver that I had already bought a ticket, but with no proof I was sorta SOL… So I sucked it up and just bought another, or rather an ACTUAL bus ticket from inside the terminal for Medellin.

So, for those going to Columbia: if you get on a bus from a bus stop and NOT from the terminal, either make sure you already have your proper ticket, or be prepared to buy your ticket once at the terminal, and NOT from random people!

Aside from this annoying hiccup, the trip to Medellin was, again I’m not going to lie, very LONG and EXHAUSTING!!!  It was at least another 10 hours of driving to Medellin (after the boat and motorcycle, etc) and though Columbia has very lovely country sides, their roads are absolutely exhausting!!!  They aren’t very well kept so the driver kept speeding when the roads were good, then slamming on the brakes to go over the pot-hole infested areas, then revving the engine again to speed.  The constant stop and go motion really wore on my body!

We finally arrived in Medellin around 9 or 10 at night and the sketchy adventures continued from there…

Oh, one little thing I forgot to mention… On the oh-so-fun road trip to Medellin, one thing I did find quite “interesting” was that every now and again on the top of a random hill that sloped from the road you would see stationed there a member of the Columbian military laying flat on the ground watching the road through a scope attached to whatever kind of gun that is that has scopes and can fire from long distances… Interesting and a teeny bit unsettling indeed… But it was only on this stretch of the travels that I noticed them.  Perhaps because that area was well known for people trying to smuggle themselves or items through the jungle of Columbia into Panama (remember there are no roads connecting the countries so it literally would be just through pure jungle).  But honestly I don’t know for sure, but rather can only speculate…


On to Medellin

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Capurgana, Colombia

So we made it!  “Smuggled” into Columbia through the San Blas Islands on a sailboat captained and crewed by what Nicki (my German companion on the sailboat) so eloquently named “modern day pirates”.  That they were indeed, modern day pirates!!  We actually arrived and docked in the water on the Panama side in a little inlet that had the teeniest towns nearby.  From there a local took all of our things and put them in a little motor boat, squished us all in (we finally got to get our shoes back, mind you!) and motored us around the inlet bend and into the Colombian side of land and dropped us off at the dock of Capurgana, Colombia.

The first thing I remember thinking about this place was how colorful it was!  It was so Caribbean and the vibrant colors of each building just added to that cool Caribbean vibe of “come as you are and chill, man”!!  Just adorable and quaint and just the place that was needed to go and relax after the onboard adventures of the previous week on the sailboat.

We all disembarked from the little motor boat on the dock and went our random ways to find hostels/hotels for the night.  I chose a place not too far from the dock and stayed the first night in a room fit for several people (though I was the only one) then moved to a smaller, better suited room on the second floor for the next week.  Now, one must remember that after being on the sailboat for 6 days certain things hold true… First and most important, I had to get my land legs back!  Even though we had been on land for little bouts throughout the week on the sailboat, my sea legs were still well intact.  Hence why I chose to stay for several days in Capurgana… Not only because it was so vibrant yet chill, but also so I could fully recover from the crazy sailboat tour we had just come from.

After getting settled in the first afternoon of our arrival (oh and of course getting our entrance stamp from immigration, which was closed for the first several hours we were on land so had to wait a while to actually be legal in the country) Nicki and I headed around town to find a cup of coffee.  Now, honestly I’ve never really been a big coffee drinker in the States.  Maybe because all the famous blends and roasts come from places like Costa Rica and Colombia.  Or rather especially Colombia… So we thought it would be quite easy to find a place that sold coffee since we were afterall in one of the countries that was best known for their production of coffee… No.  Not at all. It literally took us the better part of an hour, plus going into dozens of stores before we actually found a place that begrudgingly made us a cup of coffee!!  And to boot, it wasn’t even anything that special.  Apparently, as we came to learn quickly, coffee in Colombia is served only at breakfast and is really not available at any other time!  Ok, now perhaps I really shouldn’t generalize for ALL of Colombia, so I will just say for sure in Capurgana:)

Anyway, all in all the time spent in Capurgana was quite nice.  One day was full of hiking through the surrounding jungle, others just wandering the small town watching and experiencing life.  The evenings were spent passing time with card games with friends from the sailboat.  Oh and one afternoon was spent watching the opening ceremonies of the Olympics in England (just to give a time stamp of when I was there:)).

To be honest, though I knew I had to move on, I really wasn’t looking forward to it.  The only way out of the town was either on a teeny tiny plane literally fit for two people and luggage (that could not weigh more than a certain amount) or to take a motor boat from Capurgana, across the bay to Turbo, then catch a bus to the next destination.  After having spent so much time in the simplicity of life, between Puerto Viejo, the San Blas Islands and now the tiny town of Capurgana I wasn’t looking forward to getting back into the “hustle” of the faster life.  Honestly, I don’t even recall vehicles in town, only horse drawn carts.  That’s how isolated and simple Capurgana was.  No roads actually lead into it, only a small airstrip and dock for boats connected this small Caribbean town to the rest of the world.

Alas, I did have to get back on the road again however and booked my trip out of Capurgana via the boat.  Nicki, the Aussies and the British fellow had already or were soon also getting on with their travels too.  We each went separate ways.  Though I had wanted to go to Cartagena, Colombia, oddly enough I had gotten an email from my brother saying he was in Bogota for work.  So I altered my plans to try and catch some time with him in Bogota and opted to head first to Medellin.


On to Travel from Capurgana to Medellin

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