I landed at José Celestino Mutis Airport in the Afro-Colombian coastal town of Bahia Solano with my girlfriend and a handful of other tourists. It was warmer and more humid than Medellin,the mountainous city from which I was traveling, but completely bearable. I was the only gringo in sight (perhaps the entire town) with the rest of the travelers being Colombians. This surprised me since this place was billed as a popular tourist destination, but I never minded being the only English-speaker in a crowd.
The makeshift “airport” threw me for a loop as well - it looked like it had been constructed over the weekend. The ad hoc nature of the airport wound up being a good thing, as we shuffled through the most cursory of security checks, a breath of fresh air compared to the enhanced interrogation travelers are accustomed to in the USA. After exiting the airport we were met by a boy of about 16 who took us on a thirty minute ride in his “Tuc Tuc” (a mini taxi of sorts) to a dock, where we would wait for a dinghy to take us to our cabin.
What struck me the most about the locals was their uniform stoicism. Conversations I struck up with the folks went on without any noticeable facial reactions or any physical reaction at all, really, which was striking since Colombians are known for their expressiveness. You soon understand their nature. Bahia Solano exists completely out of time. For one thing, I didn’t come across an internet connection the entire trip, which was like kicking an addiction at first, but was ultimately a refreshing experience. Very little happens, and so there is very little to react to. Everyone goes at their own pace, which happens to be the same pace for everyone – methodical and non-reactive with a thousand-mile stare.
After docking our dinghy we walked a short distance to the location of our cabin at the Playa de Oro Lodge. We checked in with the owner (Gabriel) of the resort, which consisted of a dozen or so cabins. The resort was very clean and I dare say modern compared to the other lodgings we had passed on our boat ride. Somehow there was only one other guest at the resort, a bashful young man from Bangladesh wearing a cowboy hat.
It was early afternoon and we were ready for lunch. As the only clients at the lodge’s restaurant, service was fast and friendly. We were served a dish I learned to be common on the coast – fresh grilled tuna, salad, coconut rice, and plantain chips. To say the dining options were limited would be an understatement, but when you realize how isolated you are, you quickly become grateful for the quality of the meals at the resorts.
After finishing lunch we still had several hours of daylight. We made our way to the expansive beach, which was right outside the resort. Like the restaurant and the resort, we had the beach entirely to ourselves. Not even the Bengali man in the cowboy hat was in sight. The beach being devoid of visitors meant it was exceedingly clean. The massive waves coming from Pacific Ocean was a sight to behold. Indeed, we had been warned not to go too deep into the ocean, since recently some overly-ambitious swimmers had found the waves to be more treacherous than they had thought. We spent hours alternating between enjoying the crashing waves and retreating back to the beach to lie down.
As the sun set we returned to our cabin and showered, ready for a light dinner and some drinks. Grilled chicken was the main course, which we would grow to appreciate amongst the ubiquity of seafood on the coast. We asked Gabriel, who doubled as our waiter, if he could rustle up a bottle of rum for us. He disappeared into the night, and returned thirty minutes later with a bottle he had procured from someone else, somewhere.
We had several drinks as Gabriel shuffled through his aimless but charming mix of 80’s ballads and classic salsa. I think he was enjoying our company and the evening as much as we were. We danced and enjoyed the solitude as if we were the only people on Earth, which we may as well have been in Bahía Solano. Gabriel’s mix ended and we were left listening to the eternal and steady crash of the waves, inviting us to do it all over again tomorrow.
Find the place for your perfect day in Bahía Solano, and create your own adventure.
(From Doug Grenne (Andrea Ramirez))