Feb 3, 2008
Well we are now in Venezuela, but more on that later. I left off last in Cartagena.
First of all I want to digress before telling you about my last days in Colombia. Most of you know I am not a religious person, but here in South America I love to see the churches. They are really amazing. They are so grandiose and beautiful. They are made of wood, stone, cement, brick, etc. Almost all have some stained glass and ornate decorations. I can not believe to work that went into building them.
Anyway, after Cartagena we traveled further on the coast east towards Venezuela to a small fishing village called Taganga. We stayed in a nice Posada with a great view of the horseshoe bay. The bus system is crazy here. We arrived at the bus station at 10:15 in the morning and caught a bus at 10:30. It was not very full which was suspicious. After taking off and getting out of the exit gate the bus stopped and waited an hour until it got full. The 4 hour bus ride turned into 7 hours ands we did not get to Taganga until 5pm...just enough tome for a quick swim before the sun set.
The next day was spent lounging on a basically deserted beach 15 min walk from one full of Colombian tourists. There was one shack on the beach which cooked us a tasty fish for lunch. the snorkeling was pretty good here. In the afternoon we organized our trip to Ciudad Perdida.
The trek was for 5 nights and six days. We had nine in our group including us...3 other Americans, a Brit, a French guy, and a Colombian couple. It was a fun group.I spent my birthday on the second night and celebrated with a bottle of rum..very cheap here. We were lucky because our guide was the son of the first guide to this area and he was full of information. The best story was about a bunch of tourist who were kidnapped by ELN in 2003 and were held about 3 months before being released. Our guide was one of the guides on that day and he was tied up and left in a hut. Now the military presence there is overwelming and the guys are so bored they love to see and talk to tourists. There were 4 young people from Isreal who did not mind the kidnapping because they got free food, lots of ganga, and a crazy experience...true story.
Three of the nights we slept in hammocks and two on mattresses at the hut at Ciudad Perdida. It takes three days to get there, one day at the city, and two to hike out. The scenery is steep jungle mountains, rivers, and small indigenous villages along the way. The villages are very primitive which is hard to imagine in the culture we live in. The city is made of stone foundations(it is not really a city). Basically it is ancient ruins set in an amazing landscape. I really enjoyed this trip, all except the mosquitos and itsy bitsy black biting gnats that make me itch like crazy. My legs look like I have some new skin disease( I call it herpes simplex 12). Of course now they have scabs all over from me scratching!!!!
We returned to Taganga again for two nights. The day after we returned we went scuba diving for two dives. The first was really nice with huge brain corrals and lots of pretty fish including several types of eels.
The next day we took of for Park Tayrona...a national park that includes the jungle abutting right at the beach. You have to hike about 1.5 hours to a nice cove for smimming where you can rent a hammock or tent. We chose a tent since sleeping in a hammock is not as great as it sounds. The first day was beautiful, but in the morning we awoke to cloudy skies and the looks of rain...and rain it did....all day. We did take a hike to some ruins in the morning, but decided not to spend the night. Instead we headed back to a bigger city.. Santa Marta (5 minutes from Taganga) for a nice bed and many food choices, plus no rain!!! After one day at the beach again it was off to the boarder.
We took a through bus which crosses the border and takes you to the next biggest city. When you enter Colombia you get 60 day visa free. Ed overstayed his by 2 days. We knew this ahead of time and asked in the office inn Cartagena what to do. They told us a few days is no problem and not to worry.....you can not get an extension for only a few days. Of course the border office thought different! They made Ed wait and were trying to make him nervous probably to get a bribe. He got pretty mad and we argued a lot and finally they gave up and let us go. We have been through this crap before at borders so we were not really worried, but we did not want to depart with any of our money. We only had about $30 left of the local currency which we changed at the border.
After being let off in Maracaibo in Venezuela we caught a night bus to Merida which is where we are now. That $30 got us two Taxi rides, an overnight bus, some snacks and even some left over. The buses are much cheaper than in Colombia because Venezuela has a lot of oil. The only problem is the night buses are freezing. the AC runs all night and you need to where all of your warm clothes and more!! we can not quit figure why they do not just turn it off and on!!
Thats all for now. For those winter sport lovers..take some runs for us. By the way I have a really nice tan now!!
Love to all