[:en]At the entrance of Rancho Relaxo, our group set up different directions. The Australians and the German set off  south towards Santa Marta, while Danielle and myself headed north towards the capital of the Guajira, Riohacha, a city that doesn’t have the same touristic characteristics as Cartagena or Santa Marta and people usually use this town  as a jumping point towards the northern point of the continent, Punta Gallinas.

This city also doesn’t show up in most of the travel guides that we’ve seen. Even an Internet search did not come up with many hotels or hostels in the area. Without reservations, we showed up to a small guesthouse, Casa Patio Bonita, where the plan was to spend the next two or three days before we set on our excursion towards the lighthouse. As part of being a traveling couple, soon after arriving at the hotel I got a few emails that changed our travel plans drastically and we spent the next two weeks in this city.

The hotel is currently managed by a Canadian-Colombian couple that makes you feel like you’re staying with a friend. The hotel itself features four rooms with both private and shared accommodation with air conditioning (a great feature, given the temperatures around mid-day) and only a few short blocks from the waterfront. All rooms include breakfast and there’s the possibility of hiring lunch directly at the hotel. In our case, like most of the cities  we’ve been to, we purchased lunch from the hotel and cooked something small for our little evening meals. This was no corriente meal for us, as they used really fresh ingredients and a bit of a North American touch when it came to the recipes.

The city itself has been growing without much thought for the last 10 years and it’s used as the government offices. Although it doesn’t have many high-rises, it is a modern city with many banks available, a mall, a movie theater and a bit of a nightlife. Most of the touristic appeal to the city, it’s located on the waterfront, where most restaurants and bars are situated. It’s common to see people jumping in the ocean and hanging out by the beach, there is couple of local bars right on the sand that sell decently priced beer, were watching the sunset can be an activity all by itself. There are a couple of beaches nearby that are worth a visit and in our case we only ventured out to Mayalpo.

From Riohacha, it’s also possible (in most cases the only reason you would’s visit the city) to arrange transport across the desert towards Punta Gallinas or Cabo de La Vela. We were lucky that one of the hotel guest in the first few days of our stay there, worked directly with indigenous people in the most isolated area of the peninsula and she provided us with a couple phone numbers that we were able to call to arrange pickup directly from the hotel.

Even though this was not one of the most touristic places we have been so far, it was quite enjoyable due to the people that we met at this hostel and the helpful and kind service from Claudia and Glen.

American travel notice:

Our plan was to leave from Riohacha, get to Maicao and then head towards Venezuela. At this point in time (May 2015) the Venezuelan border is closed for American citizens and there is nothing you can do if you don’t have a visa already issued as a make it really hard for you to get one in Bogotá and it is impossible to get one in Riohacha. Most of our travel books said that Americans do not require a visa, but arriving on the border we were told otherwise. The Colombian immigration officers will not stamp your American passport with an exit date as you do not possess the right to enter Venezuela. To get rid of you, they to tell you that you need to get one in Riohacha, but a quick phone call to the local consulate told us that the visa issuing was closed until further notice. Don’t make the same mistake we did as by the time that we had arrived at the border we had already exchanged money and we had no Columbia pesos left. This little hick up costed us a full day and close to $80.

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