by the police again
journey ended up taking a lot longer than expected. The promise
of a direct route was more of a myth. At one of the road tolls near
Santa Marta, the coach came to a stop and we were ordered by the
police to get off the coach. As we were sitting near the back, by
the time we had to get off everyone was lined up by the coach. I
felt another sinking feeling - I really didn't want to get off the
we were surrounded buy sellers of local food and drinks, the police
instructed women and children back on the bus and then - without
questioning us - allowed the men back on. Supposedly, they'd checked
the bus for bombs. We were allowed on our way. It crossed my mind
that the search was to get all of us outside, allowing the sellers
to market themselves to us. Either way, we were safe. I didn't feel
unsafe but the uncertainty of the situation was worrying.
on the buses
the journey, people selling different things came onto the bus (similar
to the sellers on the local buses) some asking for money to sponsor
children, some selling pens, some selling food and drink. Something
we couldn't help but find funny was a man who stood at the front
of the bus selling pills to improve sexual performance - and then
wonders of Tayrona National Park
in the forest
arrived at the entrance to the park after a far-from-direct route.
Those who'd worked in Colombia for year got discounted entry as
they are considered citizens. The rest of us paid the full 20,000
pesos, just over £4. After paying, we were driven to the car
park entrance and then we walked for 45 minutes up and down the
tropical terrain to the coast and camp site.
the cloud cover and thick vegetation, it was hot and humid. After
the likes of The Blair Witch Project and other films, I never like
walking through areas like this, but the path was clear and well
used. However, I was pleased to see a clearing at the end when we
hit the coast.
after arriving, we set up our hammocks undercover due to the surrounding
clouds. Four out of the seven of us decided to play it safe, the
other three left it till later to decide. The water where we were
was too dangerous for swimming due to the strong undercurrent so
we ventured further along the coast.
entered the forest again. Stopping every so often to take photos,
one amazing aspect hard to ignore was the amazing network of ants
at work which appeared to be following ant motorways extending further
than the eye could see.
a relaxing afternoon of snoozing on the beach, waking every so often
to cool in the clear Caribbean waters we headed back to camp. The
others deciding to brave it under the clouds. The decided to sleep
outside in hammocks between trees. After dinner, we all met on the
beach and sat up talking around our camp fire (see photo above)
with fork lightening surrounding us. Luckily the rain held off apart
from a slight drizzle which passed after a few minutes.
to my previous conflict with numerous mosquitoes, I was determined
not to be bitten. I covered up as much as possible (trousers tucked
into shoes and everything) and I climbed into my hammock. I tossed
and turned, falling asleep for mere minutes. After a while, I felt
myself being bitten again so I got a mosquito net out of my bag.
Julia and Juliet couldn't sleep either. We started laughing - we'd
all stayed quiet as we thought everyone else was asleep. After cocooning
myself in the mosquito net, I continued to sleep until 5am, when
I woke for sunrise.
on the Caribbean coast
the time I woke, most of the clouds had cleared. I took down my
hammock from the shelter and suspended it between two trees on the
beach less than 20 metres from the water's edge. As I went dozed,
enjoying the view and taking photos, Julia came and joined me for
breakfast, we cleared up our things ready to leave later in the
day and went down the coast to another beach where it was safe to
swim. A number of people had already visited Tayrona before I arrived.
They took us to a rock that you could jump off, with each of us
attempting a different jump style.
climbs the rock
a spectacular forward flip, but ended up only doing 1.5 flips, landing
on my face. I thought I had given myself a nose bleed - - shark
images and Jaws theme entered my head. I could feel the current
as we swam back to shore. I was although my head was still a bit
sore. We stayed on the beach until around midday, when the clouds
decided to return and we heard the thunder in the distance.
to Barranquilla for the last time
thunder increased but luckily the rain held off as we walked back
to the main car park. On the way back, we met two people I'd met
at the synagogue the week before. We advised them to stay at the
second camp site and were on our way.
arrival at the car park, there were two different buses that were
going to what we thought was the main entrance. We were told we'd
have to wait for the next bus because there was only one free space.
After a bit of persistence, we were just told to get on. Stood up,
surrounded by Colombians, I struggled to hold on as we went down
the windy roads.
we arrived at the entrance to the park, it turned out that the bus
was going to Santa Marta Coach terminal so we could get it all the
way to there back! After a few minutes on the main roads, we were
told to squat on the floor. I was a bit confused but it was because
of regulations and the police - we had to appear out of sight especially
when passing check points! It was another unnerving 20 minutes or
so before arriving at our destination.
Barranquilla, we ended up getting the slowest taxi ever back to
Juan K's apartment with number hair raising experience. I was sitting
in the front wishing the time away until we arrived back home. Dan
Uno, Dan Dos, Juliet, Juan K and I had our traditional Sunday night
session downloading our photos and sharing funny stories from the
quite believe we only have one week left and less than that in Barranquilla.
It was another truly great weekend and something that I wish more
people could get to experience and see.
by James Eder
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James in his hammock