San Gil & Barichara Pit Stop

Trip Start Nov 24, 2007
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Trip End May 15, 2008


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Flag of Colombia  ,
Thursday, February 28, 2008

Having grand plans to explore the great Cocuy National Park before I meet up with Maya in Bogota, my first stop on my way south from Santa Marta and Ciudad Perdida is San Gil. Being pressed for time I was forced to give up three places of very high interest to me; that being the La Guajira Region, the desolate peninsula region in the northeastern corner of Colombia which is extremely hard to travel to due to a seemingly nonexistent transport system but is unlike anything in Colombia, a boat trip to the tranquil town of Mompos, said to resemble the Mighty Mississippi in the days of Tom Saywer (Colombian style) and a way off the beaten track place I heard about from a old colombian guy I met in Salento restaurant called Nabusimake, a gorgeous place on the south side of la Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta but unheard of on the backpacker track and quite difficult to get to. Instead I have decided to save them all for another adventure when I return here some time in the future.

To my luck, after arriving in San Gil at 11:30pm (yes it is safe to travel by bus at night in Colombia), I found out it was another 12-14 hours of travel to the town of Cocuy depending on on the infrequent rotating day bus schedule in order to get to the national park. This is definately not what I was hoping for. On a map they seem very close. Realizing that I am up shit creek now and can't fit it in, I have opted to pass on 20 plus hours of wonderful bus time for a few days of spectacular moutain terrain (the 4th missed trip I said to myself) and instead try to enjoy San Gil  for what it is.

Besides having a great plaza with impressive Ceiba trees and an amazing natural park, the majority of people come to San Gil to do `extreme' things like paragliding and rafting. Not wanting to pay one peso to do either when I can do them back home for free, I have taken the time to do a little chillaxing and make sure the tick bites that I picked up in the Sierra Nevada S.M don't give me any strange illnesses. So instead of a great last few activities leading up to Bogota, I have had to pass on one more yet again. Sulkingly, I have stuffed myself on a few of the best fruit salads I have ever had in my life. Sometime try cheese on top, it's the clincher. Wait, the types of fruit I am eating down here don't even exist in the US. Sorry, you'll just have to imagine the perfect fruit salad with foreign tastes and textures amidst your classic pineapple, melon, banana, kiwi etc and then you'll understand my indulgence. 

Between heavenly fruit salads I also went for a worthwhile side trip to the sleepy colonial-preserved pueblo of Barichara. Pictures better explain it but basically, anywhere else in the world, this town would be jammed full with tourists. Instead, save for the gardeners working in the plaza, school children playing soccer in the streets, old men passing the afternoon on park benches and the loud chime of the churchbells at midday, Barichara is one giant step back in time.

Overall, I am a tad disappointed with the fact that Colombia has two many amazing things to see, dammit, let alone the incredible places you see in aerial photographs but dare venture to for safety reasons and outside Colombia are not even talked about as significant natural wonders of the world.  I guess I`ll just go have a fruit salad and wallow in my sorrows.... Wait a minute...arn`t I travelling South and Central America for 5.5 months, not working and still getting to see at least some of  these amazing things? I guess sometimes it doesn't hurt to remind oneself....
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