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Bogotá to Parque Tayrona

Just get me to the Caribbean!

sunny 37 °C

My last night in Bogotá was also Paddy’s last night. His friends were all either sick or were in the midst of exams so they weren’t up for a crazy night out. So I went to Paddy’s house to finish off a bottle of red, and then we went to a club called Baum, just the two of us.
The club was really cool, it had two main areas. One was inside, and the other outside underneath a massive oak tree covered in fairy lights. There was a dj in each area, playing some pretty trippy music. We danced ALL night, met some pretty cool new people, and just partied until the lights came on at 5.30am. We said our farewells outside the bar and made our way home.
At 8.30am I had to get up to go to the airport, I was so tired and still tipsy from the previous night. Ari and Angie drove me to the airport early, as it was the day of the game and we weren’t sure about traffic or delays. Unfortunately, my plane was delayed 8 hours! And because I was there early, that meant I had to wait for 10 hours in the world’s most boring airport! So was the rest of my flight, who at one point were all crowded around the check in desk, screaming abuse at the airline! It was so intense, I actually left because I was scared of what might happen. The police were called in, and I never saw how it turned out because I knew that there was nothing a tantrum can do to fix a flight delay.
I was so tired that I actually curled up on a cold concrete floor and slept like a homeless person, I didn’t even care! I watched the Colombia – Brasil game at the airport, crowded in front of tiny tv’s with hundreds of other people. When Colombia lost, everyone shed a tear – even myself I don’t think I have ever backed a team to the same extent as I have Colombia in this FIFA world cup. Football here is more than just a game, it gives people hope. Every child on every street corner is kicking a ball, all of the cafes and bars are alive with the talk of football and the games, speaking of the chance that the world cup is giving for Colombians to be known internationally in a positive light, rather than being famous for the cartels and drugs that haunt their past. When James Rodriguez cried at the referee’s final whistle, so did 47 million Colombians – and 1 very tired and hung over kiwi girl too.
When it was finally time to board my flight, I followed the signs to the gate where I sat and waited…and sat and waited…and sat and waited… I kept checking the board to make sure I was at the right gate, everything said that I was. But the sign at the actual gate said Cartagena, and I was headed to Santa Marta. I figured that the plane was just delayed further so waited a little longer, always keeping an eye on the board which hadn’t changed – and then suddenly it did, and the board said departed! I was so upset, I didn’t know what to do. I tried to talk to the people at the gate, but they told me to go to the back of the massive line for Cartagena. So I walked all the way back to security, by which point I was quite tearful. I told them what had happened, and they said I must go and speak with the airline as the plane had definitely departed. I began to bawl my eyes out, like a baby. Not only was I super hung over and exhausted, I had waited 11 hours in the airport, Colombia had lost the game, and I had now missed my flight! I found the Viva Colombia check in counter (easily, as by this point I had seen everything in the airport 20,000 times!) and I approached a friendly looking man in my only mood other than extreme happiness; life-is-over-and-I-can’t-see-anything-positive-I-think-I-will-go-to-bed-and-never-get-up-tears-and-snot-everywhere mode. The poor man, I feel quite sorry for him now as he had to listen to me blubbering in broken Spanish, exactly what had happened. He just looked at me, smiled and said “calm down girl, I will look after you.” He told me that he was very sorry, that the airline would put me up in a hotel, I would get free taxi’s, free dinner and breakfast, free washing of my one and only outfit (as my bag had gone to Santa Marta without me) and that I would be put onto the next available flight the following day.
The hotel was really lovely, super clean and with the most amazing shower I have ever had in my life. I actually curled up on the floor in a ball underneath this 5 different head shower, and just washed away the worst day ever!
I finally arrived in Santa Marta, 30 hours after I had first tried to check in for my flight. I was also given 2 free tickets to use on any national Viva Colombia flight. I am not sure when I am going to use them, I have until February. I may go to San Andres because the tickets there can be quite expensive. I’m not sure exactly what I will do, but I am very grateful to Viva Colombia and my friend at the airline certainly did look after me! Everyone I have met can’t believe it, apparently Viva Colombia is the cheapest, most unreliable, unfriendly airline around and the way they looked after me is just unheard of – a little Katy luck perhaps?

As soon as I got off the plane in Santa Marta, I felt the heat. 33 degrees and I loved every single one of those degrees! As 33 – 35 is my favourite temperature, I felt like I was in paradise. I stayed with some friends I met at a hostel, a little way out of town. It wasn’t amazing but we decided that we would go to Parque Tayrona the following day. We went down to Exito to buy the food and water we needed for the hike into the park. On our way there, we passed a group of men who were trying to guess our nationalities because of our accents as we were speaking English. They thought Beth was from the UK (she is actually Canadian) and that I was American. Imagine their surprise when I turned to them and said in Spanish “actually boys, you are all wrong. I am from New Zealand, Jon is from England, and Beth is from Canada.” They leaped up, hugged me and hi fived me on my Spanish and were just laughing at each other for getting busted talking about us. On the way back from Exito, they invited us to sit and have drink with them. It felt really rude to say no, so we said we would stay for a beer. A bottle of whiskey, a bottle of rum, and 40 beers later we staggered back to where we were staying quite drunk!
The next day, we went to Parque Tayrona. We caught the bus to the entrance, and then the minivan to the start of the walking track. I decided to take a horse through the jungle because I was carrying 6 litres of water and quite a lot of food. I’m not sure if the horse was better or worse, it was a very bumpy ride and I still had to wear my bag anyway! And on the way, I saw this MASSIVE lizard/ iguana/ not exactly sure/ thing come crawling out of the jungle. It was massive, and super creepy!
Finally I was there, at the Caribbean sea. I was the happiest girl on the planet when we found a lovely beach to have a well-deserved swim at, by this point the weather was around 40 degrees!
We then went to our accommodation, which was very basic. I chose a tent the first night, but switched to a hammock because it was just too hot to sleep in the tent! The heat does not stop, even at night. It is always, always hot. The light cardigan I had brought along, never once was taken from my bag!
I met a jungle boy named Jorge who worked and lived within the park. He took a liking to me, and we spent the following days walking to amazing beaches that were secret from the tourists. At one point, we had to swim around these massive boulders to get to a secret beach! It was pretty crazy, and I felt very lucky to have made friends with the right person. I didn't take my camera with me because I knew we had to swim from beach to beach, so I missed out on taking pics of a million pretty places. I guess if you want to see them, you will just have to go to Parque Tayrona and meet your own jungle boy!
Most days I say a million thanks to Cindy, my amazing Spanish teacher in New Zealand, because without her I would never be able to speak Spanish like I do, and I would not have had even one quarter of the opportunities and adventures I have had so far. I can't imagine travelling here without speaking Spanish, all of the travelers who I have met who can't speak Spanish are finding things very hard, and are constantly being overcharged. Also, thanks to my Cindy I could understand that this sign next to this beautiful waterhole where I was about to swim said to not do so, as it was full of crocodiles!
Tayrona was amazing, I ended up sleeping on the beach one night and on a massive boulder under the stars another night. Never needing even a sheet to keep warm as it was just forever hot. What had started as a 2 night journey to the beach became a 5 night stay, because it was just too hard to leave! One of my favourite things to do was to watch the ants. I know how pathetic that sounds, but it was fascinating! They would march in these massive 2 lane highways, one going each way. The ants on the left (nature drives on the correct side of the road, just like us Kiwi’s) would be carrying massive leaves, maybe 4 – 5 times larger than their bodies. The ants going the other way were heading back to collect leaves. These trails would go very far, more than 20 – 30 meters. For a tiny ant, that must be a huge task! I never saw a single ant complain, or try to cheat, or try to trick the other ants. I just wanted to tell them that they are so close to the beach, they just had to go a little further and they could tan and swim and enjoy the day! But no, their duty to their queen was just too strong, and they continued to march along in their two lane ant highways.
After nearly a week of tanning, swimming, snorkelling, exploring, and reading, it was time to head back to the real world. I wanted to have some time to myself before heading to Minca, a small town in the Sierra Nevada Mountains about 15km away from Santa Marta. I was due to start work at a restaurant there the following day, so wanted to be clean, prepared, and ready. I loved Parque Tayrona and I will definitely return there one day soon!

Posted by chasingsummer 15:14 Archived in Colombia

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