Taganga, Colombia
May 26, 2024

Taganga - a place to read a book in a hammock while enjoying the scenic views before your next adventure in Tayrona National Park. A place where 8-hour electricity outages are part of the lifestyle.

A laptop on a stand sits on a glass table with a keyboard, mouse, and water bottle, overlooking a scenic coastal view of Taganga, Colombia, with mountains and the sea in the background.
Sometimes, a seed of a beautiful illusion is planted within us, growing daily into a dream we eagerly chase. Yet, when we finally reach it, we discover it falls short of the perfection we envisioned, leading us to seek a new seed of hope, which we will nurture into our next great aspiration

While still in Buenos Aires, I received a random accommodation newsletter that I had subscribed to in order to bring some more randomness into my life. Most of the time, I would just scroll through the list to get a taste of different places around the world. At the end of the newsletter, there is always a mystery deal with a great discount, accompanied by a picture. When I saw the view from the listing, I immediately clicked to find out where this place was.

By chance or luck, the place was in Colombia, a country I had wanted to visit and secretly had on my to-do list for quite some time. At this point, I had already trained my impulsive travel skills and, a few hours later, I had tickets and accommodation booked and was already dreaming about how I would spit out beautiful code while observing the stunning views around me.

After a confidence boost from my last flight from Panama to Argentina, I once again decided to take those sweet emergency exit seats that officially require you to speak Spanish. This time, however, there was a small surprise: the flight attendant asked an elderly couple sitting next to me about the emergency procedures in Spanish. The funny part about all this was that the couple had already forgotten the procedure, and I had to step in with my niño Spanish to break the awkwardness. However, by far the funniest part of this encounter was what followed, as the couple started telling me something along the lines of: "It's good that you are sitting here because if everything in this plane depended on us, the ending wouldn't be pretty".

Another new experience for me was the pilot who announced that for those landing at Santa Marta airport for the first time, please be aware that the landing would be "stronger" than you are used to as the runway is very short. He continued: "Nonetheless, I don't want to scare you. I'm saying this so you can keep a hold of your items and kids." Since I didn't have any kids, I just smiled and turned up my takeoff music. In reality, the landing wasn't bad or special, and I can say with confidence that I had experienced far worse landings.

Since I was staying in a somewhat remote location and was pretty tired after long flights, I had already arranged my pickup with a local taxi driver. This is the same taxi driver who, later during my stay, had me waiting for him for 2 hours with my frozen groceries, the same taxi driver who stopped the car and opened the window just to show me a pretty girl, the same taxi driver who started racing against another motorcycle up the mountain in front of a bus, the same taxi driver who, after 5 minutes of our first conversation, said that if I needed cocaine, marijuana, or girls, I should call him. Yes, this is my local taxi guy who was always late but every time called me his hermano.

Heading linkVillage

A beautiful scenic view is almost never free of chickens charge

I'm starting to notice a pattern: I stay in a place with a few thousand people, then move to a place with hundreds of thousands, and then return to a place with only a few thousand. This time, I was on my small-place ticket.

After arriving and realizing that I needed some food to survive, I descended from my kingdom on the hill and walked the holy path to the village. For some reason, I made a huge mistake and selected the "Groceries" filter on Google Maps, which led me deep into the village through abandoned streets with locals looking at me like a lost soul.

Nevertheless, I reached the "grocery store" and started the buying procedure, which consisted of: 1) telling the item name, 2) the seller bringing the item, 3) me observing the item, 4) me updating the item description, 5) the seller bringing a new item, 6) me confirming the item, and 7) going back to step 1. After that experience, I could indeed confirm that I was in a remote village.

However, if anyone is reading this and has already visited Taganga, they would be saying, "But Edvinai, what about the mini-supermarket? Why didn't you go to the mini-supermarket?" And to that, I would answer because I blindly trusted Google Maps, which didn't include the mini-supermarket in my grocery filter. So yes, the reality is that the next time I needed to buy groceries, I didn't need to venture through abandoned streets and play a guessing game with the cashier.

The next thing that reminds you that you are living in a village is the water system, which, from my understanding, is very limited (unless you are staying in some fancy place). Furthermore, I have a feeling that not having hot water is pretty common, although, to be honest, it's not that big of an issue given that you live in a place where it's very hot (although I have to admit there were times when I was moving very fast in the shower just so it felt warmer).

If you wander a bit off the main strip next to the beach, you will start seeing empty unpaved streets surrounded by very simple houses and a somewhat large amount of trash and building materials.

You can forget co-working places and anything of that nature. Your best bet for that will be places like Flamingo in Santa Marta, which you can reach in about 15 minutes by taxi.

While traveling in Latin America, I got used to the fact that electricity disappears and you need to work around it. However, here I experienced it differently, as electricity would regularly disappear for 8 hours at a time. This brings us to the next topic, which is work.

Heading linkWork

A laptop on a stand sits on a glass table with a keyboard and mouse, overlooking a coastal view of Taganga, Colombia. Raúl is sitting on a chair next to the table, and a hammock is hanging nearby.
What could be better than a judgmental colleague who observes your every keystroke?

One of the reasons I chose Taganga was because I wanted to be in an isolated place where I could focus 100% on finishing up my side project, which was getting very close to the shipping stage.

I somewhat knew what I was getting into when I decided to go to Taganga. What I didn't know at the time was that a beautiful view does not necessarily equal a pleasant work environment. I had this idyllic dream of putting the final touches on my side project while observing the beautiful landscape of the Caribbean Sea blending with the scenic foothills.

While there were indeed beautiful views, and I was able to set up my work environment outside, I quickly learned that even if you have an app that boosts your screen brightness to 160%, the sun will still laugh at you with its brightness that's several hundred times stronger. Not only that, but your brain starts to throttle just to avoid overheating. Add random insects and animals, and you can already drop your idyllic dream of productive work outdoors.

"Fine", I told myself. "I will work from my room as I can still enjoy the beautiful view from there." And then I met my next nemesis: the narrow desk that couldn't fit my laptop with its stand. After shuffling furniture around and putting the stand in a very extreme position, this nemesis was also defeated.

As usual, when one thing works, you start to complain about another thing, in this case, the chair that just didn't want to work with my setup. Again, nothing that couldn't be fixed with a few pillows and a slight reshuffling of the furniture.

"Okay, now we are rolling, now we can finally be at our 100% productivity." Or can we? Well, apparently not, because that's when I learned that the A/C stops working from around noon until 7 PM. Nothing that can't be fixed by the A/C technician, right? Apparently, even after his magic, the A/C didn't want to work during its siesta hours. Well, who cares? Let's drop the A/C and rely on a big fan, a bunch of ice cream, and cold water to cool me from the inside.

We are good now, right? Right?? Well, you know what? Apparently, Taganga likes to conduct regular electrical system maintenance that results in eight hours without electricity. Since I didn't bring an electricity generator, these are the moments where I had to say, "Okay, Taganga, you win" and with my defeated hands, type a message to my local taxi guy (yes, the same guy) to help me reach Santa Marta.

Despite all these issues, I want to believe that I'm resilient and can use my genes with thousands of years of evolution to adapt to these conditions and do my best work. And in fact, after about a week, my melted brain started functioning much better, and I was making some serious progress.

A laptop on a stand sits on a desk with a keyboard and mouse, positioned next to a window with a metal grill. The window overlooks a coastal view of Taganga, Colombia, with mountains in the background and Raúl lounging outside on a chair.
Some of us are better adapted to working sleeping in the sun without overheating than others

In keeping with adapting, I decided to fully embrace this lifestyle, which resulted in my decision to not shave my beard until I released my side project. Days passed, and I increasingly resembled a wild creature, who was hanging out with gordito Raúl.

The cherry on top of all this was when, the day before my departure, the electricity disappeared once again. This time, I was already used to it. I was living this lifestyle, so I took that day as just another regular day in my remote life. I was lying in my hammock in only my underwear, with a beard that I hadn't shaved for more than a month, reading a book, when suddenly I heard a voice with an Australian accent asking me if I spoke English. It was a couple of travelers who had just arrived and wanted to ask if I, too, was without electricity.

Like an old and wise man, with my unshaved beard and a huge smile, I began explaining how things work here and estimated that we wouldn’t have electricity for about six more hours.

Indeed, like clockwork, the electricity reappeared at exactly 4 PM, and I heard joyful and victorious shouts from the Australian couple, who could finally feel the comfort of civilization with electricity. For an old-schooler like me, it was just another regular day in Taganga.

Heading linkAnimals

There's nothing quite like having unexpected company at night while you're coding away in the dark

After living in a multimillion-person city, I had kind of forgotten my adventures in Costa Rica and the feeling of living close to nature. Well, I can surely say that I got reminded of that lifestyle again in Taganga. Not only reminded, but probably experienced it like nowhere else. By the end of my stay, I didn't care about my floor being covered with various insects. Neither was I bothered by geckos racing on the walls inside my room, nor by the mountain dogs running around, or the chickens chilling out with the cats on the path to my hilltop home.

Talking about animals, the one animal that I will hate to this day is that broken rooster that would go off almost every morning at 4:10, bypassing my earplugs and all other sounds. The next small offender that I didn't get along with so well was the venomous centipede that casually walked on my bare foot in the dark while I was working on my side project. Suffice to say, I stood up faster than a sprinter when the gun goes off.

However, even that was nothing compared to the night when I was working and started seeing something walking towards my balcony. At first, I thought it was my chubby friend Raúl. However, I quickly lost that thought when the creature jumped from the side of the balcony onto my window. The only words that could leave my mouth at that time were: "WHAT THE FUCK". I was so confused about what this creature was and why it was staring at me from so close. After I learned that it was an opossum, things started to make sense. Nevertheless, I was still flabbergasted by the encounter.

Skipping night friends and annoying bugs, there were truly wonderful birds that at least a few times made me rethink if it was a real bird or some handcrafted special melody. There were also tiny and playful parrots that would play around like small children in groups. I also can’t forget the massive, hawk-like birds that would glide through the sky like rulers, occasionally dropping lizard heads onto my balcony.

After hearing this purr, if you tell me it's not the cutest you've ever heard, I’ll show you a liar

However, all the wonderful, monstrous, and interesting animals are nothing compared to the main character and ruler of them all - gordito Raúl. I have enough funny, cute, and heartwarming videos of Raúl that I could probably create a full feature movie, so I will try to be brief here.

Raúl was a friend, a traitor, and an entertainer. He made sure that I didn't lose my muscles by constantly asking to be petted, and he also made sure that I didn't completely become a hermit. He had one of the most beautiful green eyes and one of the softest purrs I ever heard. We didn't say proper goodbyes, but I believe that we had mutual respect and friendship (even though he betrayed me a few times). I thank him for providing me a glimpse into my long-lost friend, and I hope that right now he is enjoying the sun and purring his way into more food.

Heading linkMy Take

A scenic view of Taganga, Colombia, at sunset, with a golden sky, coastal mountains, and boats dotting the bay, surrounded by hillside houses.
Sunsets accompanied by ice cream and gordito Raúl are things I will miss when thinking about Taganga

Overall, I can see Taganga as a place to read a book in a hammock while enjoying the scenic views or as a stop while exploring Tayrona National Park. But that's mostly it. Yes, there is also diving available, but from my personal experience, it was not very impressive.

If you are considering working in Taganga, it will be quite challenging to stay productive unless you find fancy accommodation equipped with a generator and other utilities. I could almost say that it’s a good place to isolate, but in reality, it isn’t, because surprisingly, this village has random parties going on all night and quite a bit of action on the beach during weekends.

As for the main beach, it's not a place where I would like to spend my time. In fact, throughout my whole stay, I didn't go to that beach once. The stretch of beach not occupied by boats is small, crowded, and generally underwhelming. There are a few nicer beaches you can reach by boat, but even then, I wouldn't categorize them as very nice. Nevertheless, it was fine since I knew what to expect, and I didn't come there for the beach.

Probably the biggest thing that I disliked about Taganga was the amount of trash and construction materials. For a small village, I expected to see a bit cleaner and cozier view. However, I will come back to this trash issue in my next blog post as it seems like a wider problem in Colombia (at least in the places I visited).

While some of the writing might give the impression that Taganga left a bad taste in my mouth, that's not true. In reality, it was a unique way to experience a more isolated and remote lifestyle while growing a bit thicker skin. Most importantly, during my stay, I managed to put the finishing touches on Invoicy while enjoying beautiful sunsets with ice cream and the company of gordito Raúl.

Heading linkStatement Rain

Raúl sitting like a boss upright against a white wall on a tiled floor.
That feeling when the electricity vanishes, once again, for a whole 8 hours


— Sunsets are very beautiful in Taganga, especially if you live somewhere high on top of the hill.

— If you have more free time, Tayrona National Park seems like a magnificent place to explore.


— One might think Taganga is a chill and quiet village for those seeking tranquility. In reality, this isn't true, as there were several nights with music blasting so loudly that I could dance in my room. As usual, this could greatly vary depending on the part you live in.

— The extensive amount of rubbish and building materials throughout the village were quite disappointing.


— Taganga is known for its diving. In fact, there are almost more diving shops than residents there. I honestly wasn't that excited about diving there, and probably for the better. While it was cheaper than anywhere else I've dived, it was also less impressive. My first dive in Calichan felt like diving in a lake, with poor visibility and strong currents that compensated for the cardio I had been skipping. If it wasn't for the second dive in La Piedra del Medio, I would have rated the experience as very poor.

— Who would have thought that good views mean a good walk? Honestly, I don't regret any of my choices, but if you dislike walking up steep hills that have no other access, try to simulate that environment and your mental state in your head before booking your next accommodation. Don't forget to add groceries and water to your simulation.

— One could say that to fix the electricity, water, and coworking problems, just go to Santa Marta instead. However, from my limited experience, I did not enjoy Santa Marta.

— Another captain obvious moment is the fact that humid, hot, and sunny conditions do not make for a great work environment. This is especially true when you lose electricity for eight hours at a time.

© 2024 Edvinas Byla

(my lovely corner on the internet™)