Power on. POWER ON!! Nothing. I looked at the black, lifeless screen of my smartphone – It was dead. I tried charging it, I removed the battery, I shook it around and looked at it with pleading eyes. Nothing worked. What was I going to do now? I had no way of contacting people, no way of letting people know where I was, what I’d been up to on my travels, what I ate for dinner last night, with artistically captured photo attached. My smartphone was broken and there was nothing I could do about it.
It was then that I decided to impose a non-voluntary technology detox. I was just about to escape the busyness of the city for a beach on the Caribbean Coast of Colombia anyway, I would spend three days watching the Caribbean Sea from my own private hammock and would only be contactable by message in a bottle.
But for me, this was no self-imposed detox, oh no. And I ‘m embarrassed to say, yes, there were feelings of loss and separation anxiety and, sadly, I could have easily taken my phone with me had it been working – reggae music playlist, camera, Facebook access and all. But it wasn’t to be.
So off I went to Playa Blanca, which is on the north coast of Colombia near the popular city of Cartagena. I left with my swimmers, a change of clothes, a camera, some money and nothing else. I left all other technological devices behind. And I’m glad I did too, there’s nothing worse than swinging in a hammock and waking up to the sound of someone’s alarm going off. I wondered what they had to do that was so important it warranted a 10am wake-up call. Pre-breakfast cocktail? Beach-side massage? That’s as urgent as life gets on Playa Blanca.
Speed boats to Playa Blanca are frequent from the Cartagena Marina and take approximately 45 minutes. Once you jump off the boat, or get carried off which was the case for me, there are cabañas or sheltered accommodation, dimly-lit shack-like restaurants and lines of sheltered hammocks overlooking the white sands and the azure waters of the Caribbean Sea. I camped at a hammock cabaña about 100m up the beach. It’s quieter than the main drag which was full of day-trippers. The cabaña I stayed at was called El Negro and I swung in my hammock for two nights at $5,000 Colombian Pesos per night ($2.65AUS). Here, you quickly find out how fast time passes when you do absolutely nothing, no emails to check, no statuses to like, no people to call. Beach-side bliss.
My days were filled with taking the odd dip in the sea, eating my body weight in fish, plantain and coconut rice and drinking the odd cerveza or 12. But if you ‘re feeling more adventurous there are speed banana boat rides, sailing and kayaking trips and snorkelling, but I was happy keeping ‘busy’ with massages, swimming and eating. With the view of the Caribbean Sea in front, the feeling of freedom that comes with wearing swimwear all day long and the smell of the ocean drying on your skin, any form of technology out here is just a distraction. There’s no reason to know what time it is, no point in contacting people who are miles away, there’s just you, the beach and a beautiful sunset. Leave the phone at home but I guess it wouldn’t hurt to bring the camera with you –the sunsets are just too beautiful not to share.