By Mehdy Ghannad
After a relatively smooth flight and brimming with excitement, The Hostel Life team landed safely in Barranquilla, Colombia. Upon arrival, two stunning bikini-clad Colombian women welcomed us with booze and smiles. The spirit of Carnival was definitely in the air, and needless to say, we were thrilled to be there.
As you can probably imagine, Carnival is outrageous… though in the best way possible. Everyone was involved, celebrating and dancing in the streets without a care in the world. We were lucky enough to score some media passes after chumming it up with the mayor, so we were right in the thick of things as the Batalla de Flores stomped down the Avenida in an almost hypnotic wave of colors and sound. It was difficult for us to concentrate on anything with so many visually stimulating floats (and women), so luckily we had the crew there to capture everything on camera.
After enjoying every second of Carnival for a couple of days, we decided to head to Santa Marta on a recommendation from the mayor of Barranquilla. We checked into a brand new hostel called La Brisa Loca and couldn’t believe our eyes when we walked in and saw what was waiting. La Brisa Loca is fully loaded – pool, sundeck, pool table, bar and communal kitchen – and had all of us smiling after a tiring few days. With all of these amenities, the price per night is only 15,000 pesos, or under 8 bucks. If you’re in Santa Marta, this is the place to stay.
Santa Marta was perfect for rest and relaxation. From cruising the market to bumming around the beautiful beaches, Santa Marta makes a great spot to chill out and love life. If you’re feeling frisky in the nighttime hours, fret not, as there are a bunch of fun and lively bars just a stone’s throw from La Brisa Loca.
After a lot of sun and fun with our new backpacker friends at La Brisa Loca, it was time for us to pack up and head out once more. The next stop was in beautiful San Gil, a stunning colonial town that radiates with good vibes. A backpacking buddy had told us enthusiastically about a spot in San Gil called Sam’s VIP and he was right. The moment you walk into Sam’s childhood home-converted-hostel you feel nothing less than VIP. With spacious rooms, clean and modern bathrooms, and a killer communal kitchen, we didn’t want to leave. Did we mention there is also a pool, sauna, bar and a terrace with stellar views of the surrounding area? Clearly, Colombia knows how to do hostels.
Sam was able to arrange some pretty awesome activities for us while we were in his hometown of San Gil. First, The Hostel Life team and some backpacking friends from Sam’s headed down to Rio Fonce to take on the rapids. With a bright blue sky and blazing sunshine, our bumpy and soaked excursion down the river was enjoyable for all on board.
Next on the list was something that none of us had tried before: paragliding. For anyone else who hasn’t done it… do it! If you have ever wondered what it might feel like to be a hawk gliding through the air, this is the closest thing. One lesson learned from paragliding though: attempting to take photos while soaring can cause extreme nausea. Mehdy almost lost his lunch at 1,500 meters while attempting to capture some photos of his flight.
The following night we had a surprise visitor join us for dinner and an interview at Sam’s VIP. Her name is Maria Mulata and if you follow cumbia music you might already know who she is; she is well-known worldwide for her lovely voice. She grew up in San Gil and was a friend of our pal Sam. We were humbled to be in her company and thrilled to see that, despite her fame, she is a very chill and down-to-earth girl. We thought Mehdy was gonna fall out of his chair when she serenaded The Hostel Life team.
As things wrapped up for The Hostel Life team in Colombia, we were beyond reluctant to leave. The people of Colombia made us feel so at home and so welcome. We look forward to going back again in the near future to visit old friends and explore new places in a country that makes The Hostel Life, along with all of their other visitors, feel like family.