Our family left rainy, cold Bogota and flew to Santa Marta, which is one of the major coastal cities in northern Colombia.
**Side Note** I give all the credit for planning this vacation to Aaron, who carefully called to make reservations, did the research, planned all the financing, etc. We have very different styles of doing this, so at times there were periods of stress, but it was a good exercise for me to let go and not worry about the details.
So, on the way to our hotel in Santa Marta, Aaron decided to change the plans. He had visited with the person sitting next to him on the airplane and the taxi driver and decided that we would be better off staying in Rododero, a smaller town south of Santa Marta. We were told the beaches were better here, and it was calmer and easier to walk to the beach. So he found us a modest, but lovely place to stay about two blocks from the beach.
Rododero is very lovely. It is easy to walk places, there are a few small, but good seafood restaurants. We took a boat about 10 minutes up the coast to visit a small Aquarium, where we could see sea turtles, various sharks, baracudas, and dolphins up close. From there we took another boat ride to the Playa Blanca (white beach).
Playa Blanca was my favorite beach of the trip. There was beautiful white sand, and clear Carribean blue water. It was not crowded (you have to go by boat). On the way we saw all kinds of Colombian fishermen, in small canoe-type boats, which they stand in to row, diving (we were told sometimes 30 feet down just by holding their breath), using giant, impressive spears, and maneuvering large systems of nets. We rented a little shade tent and played together on the beach for most of the day.
Our family had our first snorkling lesson at Playa Blanca. Words cannot describe the amazement we found under the water. We saw beautiful coral reefs and hundreds of tropical fish. We enjoyed talking about which ones were our favorites, with so many bright colors and different shapes and sizes, it was astounding. Once our children learned how to breath under the water, they never wanted to come up. It was an amazing gift.