Santa Marta Hierarchy

A few days ago I posted photos of Santa Marta and the beach scene. Technically all these photos are at Rodadero, an offshoot of Santa Marta about five kilometers away. Everyone outside the vicinity says “Santa Marta” for both, but once here there is a difference.

I have decided there is a certain class and social hierarchy here. At the very top sit the wealthy Colombians, who come from the larger cities either in couples or in giant families, with relatives. Groups of ten people or so are not uncommon. These people are at the top because they don’t really care what things cost. They are on vacation and they don’t want to think about prices. Also, for a few of them, especially couples, they are into conspicuous consumption. They stay at swanky hotels. Waiters scurry about trying to cater to their whims.

Next down the pyramid come regular Colombians and foreign tourists (who are of middle or lower-middle status). This groups stays in the same hotels and eats at the same cheap places. Foreigners here are not wealthy. I suppose those go to Aruba, Turks and Caicos, Cayman Islands, and other destinations. Not Colombia.

I see many young European backpackers (no American ones yet). The three guys I check in with on the beach, and have some shrimp with, are all Canadians. One guy retired here after 40 years of working in a car factory in Toronto (the guy below). Another young guy from Vancouver with long hair and tattoos (I call him “the Viking”) is a fisherman up there and winters here. And another guy from Toronto comes to the beach in a wheelchair because of a snowboarding accident a decade ago.  He lives here nearly year round. To hear these guys tell it, you can count the long-time North American residents on two hands.

At the lowest level of the pyramid are the Venezuelans who take low paid service jobs or hawk trinkets on the beach. Some of them don’t really have anything to hawk, they just walk around, hoping to some into some opportunity. Lots sell coffee in thermoses. Maybe Colombians did this before but they no longer do. Its perhaps an unspoken convention that those jobs are now for Venezuelans.

So that is the pyramid. It’s pretty simple.

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