The last few days have been spent east of Cartagena along that flat bit along the top of South America.. A long straight road leads along the coast with little to see except flat marshlands with reeds, scrubby trees and empty sandy beaches & inlets.
First stop is a small volcano with a ricketty wooden stairway up the side. This it seems is the famous mud bath. People come from miles around to lounge about in its beneficial slop. I decide not to partake in this activity. However my resolve is surely tested when a bus arrives & out pour 40 or so young Colombian girls who promptly strip down to bikinis and dash up the stairway to heaven. The temptation does not last long as five more buses arrive and the huddle at the top becomes a scrum. Participants can pay 3,000 pesetas for one of these lovely ladies to wash you down in the nearby lagoon.
And then have lunch in the Michelin star restaurant. No!!!
The road continues along the coast separating the beach side from the lagoon. Our lunch stop is a ‘motel’ for truckers overlooking the lagoon where fish farms float out in the shallow waters & boats hurry between them & the shore. Needless to say the set menu is a delicious fish soup followed by deep fried fish from the sea.
Our destination is the Tayrona National Park. We leave our bus & our luggage is taken by horses while we slog our way through the steaming jungle accompanied by the pounding beat of the surf in the distance & the sound of little animals in the undergrowth. These days are hot, humid, sticky & hot again. Sweat, perspire, glow. The smaller the flying kamikazes the more annoying the bite. Do you put your sun slap on first or your Deet or your bite relief? Either way the little so & so’s bite any exposed piece of flesh through the cocktail of protection you might have applied.
Worse is to come. For two nights I have to sleep in a hammock. Now don’t laugh. It is a fulfilling experience. Not only is it hot & sweaty throughout the night but 23 other travellers share the same space in their hanging cocoons. Like little silk worms we hang together sharing the night, our deep breathing accompany the sounds of the jungle around us. Least said about this the better. I do get to see the stars which are quite out of this world!! Get it? A play on words, see. Seriously, quite awesome.
The walk along this Caribbean coast is a saving grace. Atlantic breakers pound the shore. The jungle comes down to meet a small strip of soft sand, fronted by tall palm trees. Huge rocks make amazing shapes & forms & figures that have been sculptured by the surf. All the time the power of the waves sing & roar & hum with a cacophony of sound. Eventually the sun drives us humans into the shade as we look forward to a sweaty shower & a very cold beer.