The Missing Casino and Our Return to Panama

We left the Ecohabs with our luggage and walked the ten minutes back to the central point where we would find the bus that would take us down to the Park entrance. As we waited, an empty tourist bus passed us and went up the dusty road toward the Ecohabs.

We had met an older couple from England who were staying at the Ecohabs and they were leaving today as well. We guessed that the bus was for them. After a short time, the bus returned carrying the British couple. They waved out the window and then the bus stopped and they invited us to come with them back to Santa Marta, where they would be catching a flight to Brazil and then home.

We enjoyed their company and their generosity, in allowing us to help them fill the otherwise empty bus. The bus even dropped us right at out hotel in Santa Marta which is once again a converted Spanish Colonial building but done up a little bit differently. Here are some pictures to give you the idea.

After we settled in the hotel, we were off, eager to find another great restaurant for dinner. In the meantime, Andrea and I had booked a $25.00 massage at a nearby hotel, just to see how good a massage that cheap could be. (It was worth just about $25.00) Later, we found Alicia dressing up a rooftop restaurant next to the square, enjoying an appetizer and waiting to meet up with us for dinner.

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After scouting the local restaurants around the town square, we settled on a Greek restaurant called Ouzo. Part inside and part out, we ended up sitting inside because it was a busy restaurant. Frankly, the main thing that drew our attention to this place was a fig and goat cheese pizza on the menu. After a little wine and an appetizer, the pizza arrived and it tasted as sumptuous as you could ever have imagined. Amazing!

Of our best three meals in Colombia, two were right around the town square. The third was fine dining in the jungle at the Ecohab’s restaurant.

The next morning, after a full hot breakfast by the hotel, we set out for one last stroll around Santa Marta before our bus arrived to take us back to Cartagena. The city was just getting underway for another day. People were heading for work and the street vendors were beginning to set up. This is a great little city to prowl and I would like to come back to spend more time here to investigate it further.

Our bus to Cartagena dropped us at the clock tower gate to the old town so some last-minute shopping could occur before we headed to the Ferry Xpress for our voyage back to Panama. Needing someone to look after the luggage, I volunteered and parked myself at the San Alberto coffee store to await the return of the women, loaded with packages. I had a great cappuccino while I waited.

Now, if you have been paying attention, you will remember that when we got off the Ferry Xpress from Colon last Friday, we found out by accident that our expected return voyage on Tuesday was going to be cancelled, due to weather. We confirmed that this was a fictitious excuse, but the sailing was cancelled none the less. Now this was to be our second voyage on the Ferry Xpress, a very pleasant way to spend a day to make the crossing but I must say that the reliability of the schedule can be very costly.

We lost a guaranteed hotel reservation due to not being able to travel, Alicia lost two days of work and got a couple of hundred-dollar bill from her airline to change her flights home along with having to shorten our stay in Colombia by several days. On the positive side, each time we complained, our room accommodation improved. We had booked an inside cabin for the trip over which became an outside cabin. This time the inside cabin turned into a suite which was nice but I would rather have had the time in Colombia. It seemed it was the least they could do.

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The ship in the sunset may have more significance than just a beautiful image. We discovered that the ship’s casino was missing on the way home. Maybe it did not make enough money for the operator. Maybe it was repossessed. There was also a sign that I had not noticed on the trip from Colon. All of this and the erratic scheduling along with the downsizing of inventories onboard suggested to us that the ship’s owners might soon be planning on sailing the SNAV Adriatico off into the sunset and the Ferry Xpress will once again be no longer in service.

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