Valencia the swimming hole
Trip Start May 2006
28Trip End Aug 17, 2006
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We figured to move on, but about 5 minutes up the trail, Federico comes running after us and brings us back to the coast. From there we walk along the beach along a different, supposedly quicker path. The morning empty beaches (tourists aren't allowed) are invigorating to all the senses. The latter of the beach route is covered in boulders with plenty of cracks, crevices, and gaps that traveling with my 40 lb. backpack proves to be a test in balance and fitting through the passageways. Victoria and I chatted
We walked all the way back to the road, a total of maybe 2 1/2 hours, rested a bit, and then Alex, Fernando and I caught a bus, while Victoria and Federico hitchhiked and we all met at the entrance to this stream. In a surprising amusing move, Victoria tells the guard that we are biologists working at the Park to get us in for free, and then feels remorse about lying. We walk along a stream and come to essentially a non-vertical cliff that the water glides down for several hundred vertical feet. We follow a makeshift trail and climb climb until we come to a idyllic little pool with a small waterfall, very reminiscent of watering holes in the western U.S. but with warmer water, though these mountains to eventually reach tundra at 18,000 feet. There is perfect 15 ft. jump and all of us enjoy the feeling of falling multiple times, except of Fernando who is afraid of heights. I take my camera on a few of the jumps (check out the videos). This is recreation in nature at its best, not defying gravity, but using it in a situation that would normally be harmful (falling) and turning it into the fun
On the way down, Vicotoria hurts wrist and breaks her sandals, so I give her a special cloth form Antioquia called a poncho to serve as barrier between ice and her skin, and give her my 2+ year old hemp shoes that are in such bad shape that I would have felt guilty if I thought she was going to use them for more than just to get home. Fernando and I have to go to Santa Marta and plan on hitching, but a bus shows up first, so our goodbyes are brief, but I promise to see Victoria in Bogotá.
On the bus, campesinos with bananas bunches, (clusters of 100lbs. or so of fruit) get on and off. After about 45 minutes we arrive in Santa Marta, the 3rd biggest city on the coast, 450 years old, an important port, and a tourist town, especially for Colombians. Most importantly for us, there is a Quinta (ranch) where Bolívar spent the last days of his life. The bus drops us off in a commercial/industrial section, where all kinds of hardware is sold, just hardware stores. Many cities around in Colombia have their zones, kinda like the Garment district. For example, in downtown Bogotá, along 2 blocks of a major street is just vision/glasses/optical stores, all the exact same. We do make our way to downtown Santa Marta and find a hotel. We haven´t bathed or groomed in three days and after looking into our first mirror, there´s no hiding that fact. We shower, buy some gifts and at handicraft stores, and eat an exorbitant quantity of greasy Chinese food. I don´t know why, but hearing Asian people speaking perfect Spanish is so much weirder than hearing them them speaking English.