The moment of truth today would be if I was able to get my reserved car for the drive from Santa Marta to Cartagena. After a tasty breakfast, we hurried to the car rental at the airport. As it generally does, everything worked out. I started off driving a little nervous and wobbly, but eventually fell into my groove. The drive went by quickly because of all the new things to look at (and because you had to pay attention to passing cars and motorbikes). We drove through a small coastal town, lots of toll-booths, passed many people selling things at traffic stops and eventually stopped for lunch and a small no frills restaurant. It was the type of place with plastic Coca-Cola branded tables/chairs and a straightforward menu (chicken, beef or steak). We did our best to order and ended up getting most of the things we thought we ordered. The one exception was my soup, which I ate despite a big bone with meat hanging off it floating inside. They laughed at us when we ordered a coffee at 2pm in the afternoon, but I explained we were tired from driving! The woman working there was super sweet and it made my day when I saw her face light up with the tip. We also had free entertainment by watching her little girls playing hide and seek.
I reserved a car for Tuesday because I planned on driving to Piha, about 1 hour from Auckland. The plan was to go solo, it would be a nice quiet road trip. That all changed Monday night when I received a message from Olga, my old roommate from Bondi Beach. She saw that I was in Auckland via Instagram. I invited her to come along figuring it would actually be nice to have some company, and I enjoyed hers. I was headed to pick her up Tuesday morning when I received another message from Alejandro, a friend I met in Cairns on my diving trip. He was also in Auckland and very quickly my solo trip turned into a party of three!
We headed out around 10am and thank goodness it was raining or it would have been pretty awkward when my windshield wipers came on every time I tried to change lanes. You see, old habits die hard, especially with driving. As a right-handed driver of 13 years, it took some getting used to having the gears in my left hand and the blinker in my right. I decided to cut bad drivers some slack once I get back home…maybe they are just visiting from a left sided country!
50 minutes later we made it to Piha beach where we walked down the black sand beach. The sand was SO soft! Alejandro is going to sell it as a foot scrub along with the biscuits he brought from home (LOL sorry there will be more inside jokes coming, just ignore). We climbed Lion Rock and made it all the way to the top since we were on our own tour (I read a lot of trip advisor reviews where you make it to the rock, take a picture and then they tell you it’s time to go).
We hopped back into my car, this time I’m feeling a lot more confident driving, and made our way to Kitekite waterfall. We parked at the base and upon getting out we were approached by a German guy who told us that he was having car troubles. He wanted us to jump his car but I was nervous because it was a rental and what if something went wrong?! Well, my karma jar needed filling so we agreed. We quickly realized that it wasn’t the battery that was dead, so we encouraged him to call his friend he bought it from for help. He did so and we left, hoping it all worked out for him. I think we still get half karma for trying, but I need to read up on the karma jar rules.
It said it was a 20 minute walk to the falls. It was more like 45 minutes between flip flops and photo op breaks. It was a beautiful walk, it was so lush and there was almost no one on the path. Along the walk we discussed our survival capabilities. On the television show Naked and Afraid, you are only allowed to take one thing. What would it be? Well, I would take my camera and Olga would take a reversible bikini. Why? Well, we probably wouldn’t make it the whole 15 days, so we may as well get the free trip and some cute photos for the blog 😉 I would wear one side of the reversible and she would wear the other. While not wearing the bikini we would be behind the camera so it didn’t matter. Alejandro didn’t seem to agree, he said he would take the drinking straw that makes all water clean and able to drink (I actually brought one on this trip but haven’t needed to use it yet). I guess I see his point…
The waterfall was spectacular. It was so high up with such pretty colors. We wanted to go for a swim in it, but there wasn’t anyone else there. Usually I take a cue from others to determine if it’s safe to swim. Well, I decided to just give it a shot. What’s the worst that could happen? Snakes, that’s probably the worst. Turns out it was fine, so we had a fun time swimming around, and of course, taking pictures. I get the question A LOT on who takes my photos..and there you have it! Although I’m traveling alone, I DO make friends. I also happen to be really really good at ten-second-timer… We hiked from the bottom them up to the top before we made our way back to the car park.
For those keeping track, our German friend with the stalled car was gone so he must have found a tow service. We stopped for lunch on the way back then I dropped off Olga and Alejandro at the airport. I made my way back to Auckland city center and arrived back at Avis Rental Car at 5:59pm because the traffic was so bad (they close at 6pm). I walked back and took a much needed shower to get the mud off of me. As much as I said I like the privacy curtain, it does make it hard to socialize with the people in your room. Two of the four people in my room I’ve actually never seen because I leave before them and come back after them and their curtain is drawn. I wonder if it would be weird if I peeked my head behind their curtain and said hi. Probably. I guess I won’t.