Friday 14 February 2014

Colombian Beach Bummin

   When we made it to Santa Marta, we were SOOOO happy to see the ocean. After 3 months of trekking, we decided to just be beach bums. And it was something i feel we both deserved at this point. Straight from the bus stop we took a taxi to Taganga. The beeeeaaach! Yaaayyyyyy. We could have taken a collectivo for much cheaper, but we jumped on the first ride to the ocean. Nothing makes a Pisces happier than diving into water.  We stayed at Hostal Techos Azule. It was our friend, Sixo's suggestion. We enjoyed it. The hammock patio was amazing. So was the view.
     Taganga is very laid back. Where people just open up to you. Being yourself is exactly what it's all about. It's a very fun beach town, surrounded by mountains in a cove where the sun sets perfectly. The night life is " sittin in the corners by the convenience stores on the beach strip like Easy E " type fun" lol 
Night swims are great here because it's the perfect temperature. You can't go wrong diving off the rocks at the far end of the cove. While we were here, days and nights just flew by. A little too much fun on the last leg of our trip. ;). So we decided to isolate ourselves. And hike through the jungle to the very beautiful Tayrona National Park.
       To get to this beach you really gotta earn it.  It's about a 1 hour and 45 minute, advanced hike with all of your gear.  The first time in, we took a horse.  The EXTREMELY un attentive horse guide was very unprofessional. It seemed to me that they only cared about making the 32.000cop , and not the safety of the riders. Firstly I thought the horse would properly be strapped with our gear. He was NOT. The food bag full of canned goods and fruit was beyond heavy. They slung it from the right side of his neck and hung it off of the poor guys saddle. You could tell he was suffering. And we carried our own gear on the horse. They work these horses to the boooooone. I feel awful for them. There was a pen where they kept the horses that had literally been worked to almost death. You could tell they were sick and had the saddest giant eyes I have ever seen. Tears came to my eyes when I saw this. Also when I saw a tied together train of 7 mules. The 6th one was crying and doing everything in his power to NOT take the 1 hour and 45 minute, VERY difficult trek for god knows how many times that day again. Or maybe his saddle was poorly strapped and was pinching him. He NEEDED attention quite bad. The worker paid 0 attention to this and continued to drag the poor thing unwillingly. I don't even wanna know what happened to him on the way. These beautiful creatures are the only reason there is anything civilized that far into paradise. They were treated with very little respect. Sickening. 
     But back to my horse. He was very irate. I kept trying to hold up some of the weight on his neck from the ridiculously heavy food bag. He kept pulling at it. MANY times I tried to let the absent minded guide know of his discomfort. He didn't give a shit. He just kept smiling and giving me the thumbs up. It was annoying to say the least. After many attempts, I decided to move the bag onto my stomach by myself while riding. I went to un loop it and noticed it was ripping severely. I let the guide know AGAIN and he ignored the look of sheer terror in my eyes. Siiiigh. Sure enough it happened. The bag tore quite loudly and smashed on the ground. My horse spooked and took off into the steep jutting rocks and almost over a cliff !!! At the very last second he ripped a hard right and returned to the trail at full speed. I thought for sure I was dead. I was very tempted to throw myself off onto the giant rocks, because I had NO idea where he was going and if he would ever stop. But I made a final decision at the thought of crushed bones and decided instead to throw the rest of my luggage off and hold on for dear life. I racked my brain for the noise the stupid guide made to make them stop. After a few tries, I finally got it. And the galloping came to a light canter, then a trot , a walk, and then stopped. A this point I hugged his neck and thanked him for not killing me.. Needless to say after this experience the rest of the ride was quite unnerving. I was  sweating so badly and now holding the food bag and practically falling off on every steep downwards hill. He kept choosing a path, then quickly darting another way . Very unpredictable behaviour. So I was on ice the entire time. 
       Upon my safe arrival to the camp, I was very glad to touch ground. My knees hurt so incredibly badly I could barely stand. This all sounds very dramatic, but I kid you not. If you do have a lot of gear, also make sure whoever drops you off at the ticket booth, drives you to Cañaveral where the horses are. Or you have you walk an extra 45 min.- hour more. Not cool with that much gear in that type of heat.  Looking back, your best bet is to walk the walkers path and have an equally weighted mule carry your gear and meet you there. But if ya want a quicker, easier trail, you can also walk the mule trail.
       Once we started to see water it was a relief. And once we finally arrived in Cabo San Juan it all had finally paid off. This is the most beautiful beach I have ever seen in my life! The massive house and car size rocks that start to grow in size on the path get bigger and more shapely. The walkers path is by far the most scenic. It reminded me of some sort of mission in The Lord Of The Rings. These unique formations eventually guide you from the jungle to the ocean. This part of the journey is very rewarding.  We decided to camp at Cabo San Juan. When you see this campsite after the endless walk its like a sigh of sweaty relief one can never truly forget.  It is absolutely jaw dropping. The giant rocks and big waves burst into your vision like a mirage. You wonder if your dreaming. 
       We spent our days climbing massive rocks and finding cool nooks. There is lots of beach to discover and the power of the ocean has a very special energy.  It is a sauna in the tent but cooled down perfectly at night. So sleeping was tolerable. The best move we made was BRINGING OUR OWN FOOD AND WATER. Everything is very expensive here. Surviving off of fruit, granola, sardines, tuna sandwiches and peanut butter and jam sandwiches was just fine with me. Not to mention the abundant amount of fresh coconuts on the ground. The chore of extracting their insides got easier with every one. this was Ryan's job ;-P. We planned to stay for 4 days.  But ended up staying for 6. Depending on how much time you have, it is hard not to. #1) The view and beach is something special. #2) Who wouldn't want to camp in front of the rushing waves of the ocean on the edge of the jungle for as long as they could? And #3) Avoiding the trek for as long as possible is key ......Lol. After going through 22 litres of water , the weight of the gear on the way back is a breeze. We did it at night. Very cool because your all alone trekking the deep jungle with headlamps. We ran into an indigenous boy on horseback and many exotic sounds. 
        The night before that we did a night walk at camp where we could actually take our time. It was amazing! " We made the night walk !" Just for you Dario. Straight off the bat there were tonnes of huge bats. One went in my hair ( yes it's no myth) and into my face. Just off of camp, we encountered a lone white horse in the field. He was so beautiful. His bright coat on the pitch black background was a spooky and wonderful contrast. We continued only 2 minutes and saw some rather large glowing eyes. Then another pair. Then more. It was a pack of coatis! They are dog like raccoon relatives I believe. With long snouts and very long striped tails. Hooray. They crept us as we crept them. They stayed far away enough to watch us,......while we watched them hahaha. Creep-Fest. After this we realized how intensely my LED Energizer headlamp picked up the glowing eyes of anything with night vision. The spiders is what really got me though. The amount of spider eyes I could see beneath us increased DRASTICALLY as the night got darker. Until I was counting hundreds. Suddenly a pair of bright eyes really stood out to me. They were the biggest spider eyes i had seen yet. So I investigated . It was the MOST MENACING SPIDER WE HAVE EVER SEEEEEN IN OUR ENTIRE LIVES!!!!!!!! I thought at first it was a tarantula.  Upon closer inspection I realized how badly I was wishing for the tame pet like tarantula. This thing was the size of a hand. Hairy. It had a face for god's sake. And it looked powerful,  lemme tell you. It would be up your leg in half a second! Aaayyyeeeeeeebbbuudddyyyyy.... Whatever that means. Lol After getting some pics of this disturbing night hunter, we saw something even cooler. The biggest glowing eyes of the night. What at first appeared to be a monkey, sure didn't act like one. It's eyes were too far apart and it's very slight movements were very calm. After ruling out that it was a ninja-alien, we realized it was a three toed sloth ! He was right in front of us! Staring at us. Amazing. It must've come down for its weekly, nighttime excrement trip. He was beautiful. The biggest, kindest, glowing eyes. We felt truly honoured. After we left him, we decided to head back to camp because we were more than satisfied. Yessss night walk !  
            On our last 15 min before the final collectivo we had no way to the ticket booth/road stop. So we used our last Colombian Peso's for a refreshing swift motorcycle ride through the windy road back into civilization. It was exhilarating to say the least. 
     Oh yeah and some pathetic girls robbed me of my iPod and speaker box half way through our time there. This is a minor detail because it can be replaced. Their moral-less sad existence will live on. And so will my smile. They are not powerful enough to ruin my happiness in paradise.
       When we arrived back in Taganga, we had planned to stay one night only.  We found a hostel called Hostal Graffiti. It put a new spin on things. so we stayed longer than one night. But once again the Taganga trap sucked us in. It's been 6 days. ugh . It's way too easy to stay here. Many travellers we have met ended up staying here for longer than they had expected and just never left. We feared this. So we decided to do something spontaneous to break the chain on our last days here. Tomorrow we have a discovery dive booked with Nautilus Dive Center. If we like it, we can put it towards an international liscence. If not we say bye bye and head towards Palomino. I have never dove before, just snorkelled a lot. Can't wait. 

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