Hacker Beach Episode 8

Hacker Beach #8, in January 2020, brings us back to the Caribbean Sea for the first time since episode 3. We're going to experience the beautiful nature of the Sierra Nevada in Colombia's North Coast region.


Palomino, Colombia (OSM)

What to expect


  • Hacking, not cracking
  • FOSS creation and contribution galore (non-programmers welcome)
  • Also get your day job done if you want/must
  • Fantastic weather
  • Outdoor activity options like e.g. hiking, kayaking, snorkeling, surfing, and floating down the nearby river
  • Explore the wider region, esp. before/after your time at the official location
  • Whatever you want to make it. Hacker Beach is just people.

Getting in

  • The local airport is Santa Marta (SMR), which is a 2-hour bus ride from Palomino
  • To get to Santa Marta it's easiest to fly into Bogota, then take a short local flight. You can also try other major cities like e.g. Medellín.
  • Alternatively, fly into Barranquilla or Cartagena, then take a bus to Santa Marta
  • To get to Palomino from Santa Marta, go to the bus terminal, where you can buy a ticket for a long-distance travel bus. The drive should only take ~1.5 hours on a good day. "Brasilia" is one company that has nice buses to Palomino.


Warning: There are no ATMs in Palomino itself. Ideally you bring enough cash to last you a while, or even the entire stay.

If you need to get more cash (a lot of nice places only accept cash), you need to go to an ATM in Mingueo, which is the next larger town to the East. It's about 20km (or minutes) away from Palomino. Options to get there are:

  • Wait for any bus going East. You can find the "bus stop" on OSM, and you can likely also just flag it down when you see it.
  • Go to the stop for mini-van shared taxis, which is when you turn right on the main from when coming from the beach road (carrera 6), where the first shops begin on the other side of the road. The vans should have a sign in the window that says "Mingeo", and the price should be 5000 COP each way.
  • Use a moto taxi. Most convenient option, as they will also wait for you and then immediately drive you back. Price should be 20000 COP return.

Mobile Internet


  • Claro Colombia is pretty expensive (~15 USD for 2.5GB), but provides fairly decent LTE in Palomino. (Nobody tried another provider yet.)
  • You can buy top-ups from local shops (look for "recarga" signs), or e.g. via BTC/LN from Bitrefill
  • USSD code for subscription management is *611#
  • You cannot add more data to an existing plan, and nobody has found a way to check for usage so far. So make sure you wait for an SMS that tells you that you used up all data before buying a new plan


  • Tigo is another cell provider that operates 4G LTE service in Palomino. The best package is 2GB for 20,000 COP, which is also bundled with unlimited SMS and calling. It is only good for 15 days, so you'll need to purchase it twice for longer stays
  • A Tigo SIM card can be purchased from an internet cafe on the intersection of Carrera 6 and the highway. Simply ask for a Tigo SIM card with the "dos gigas" bundle, it comes pre-packaged. No ID required. It should cost around 23,000-25,000 COP

Other options

  • Google Fi and T-Mobile roaming should work for 2G-ish speeds

Power sockets

  • Power outlets use the standard outlet from the US, possibly without ground pins for a lot of older electrical outlets

Good places for computering

  • Cafe Bohio have an espresso machine and the music is relaxed
  • Delicias Koda is a bakery with breakfast combos including yogurt, fruit, juice, and coffee with consistent 1mbit WiFi. Open early
  • Juntos is a tourist-oriented restaurant with good salads and 3.5-4mbit WiFi, long tables, and good music. Suitable for daytime working
  • Che Parcero Reasonable prices on filter coffee, beer, and delicious baked empanadas. Wifi and an outlet


There are hundreds of hostals in town. Either try to find something online, or walk around and ask at places that you like from the outside.


Session topics, locations, and times are usually planned rather spontaneously. Watch the usual spaces/channels.




As always, ask on IRC (#hackerbeach@chat.freenode.net), the fediverse (Mastodon), or Twitter.

Invite-only XMPP chat for participants

We have a more private communications channel for people who are definitely coming to Hacker Beach. It's an XMPP group chat at hackerbeach@kosmos.chat. Please ask someone to invite you, in case you don't have access yet.

As a mobile client, we can highly recommend Conversations for Android for example.

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