Capurgana - Colombia
Trip Start Oct 30, 2007
171Trip End Nov 20, 2009
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Early start, a 6 hour bus journey plus another 6 in a 4WD minibus over dirt road to a dive of a town called Turbo for the night, then the early morning boat for three hours (small boat, packed with locals, and our backpacks in very necessary plastic bags against the spray), stopping off at little beach hamlets until we got to Capurgana
So, first day we walked to the next hamlet on the beach further round, where some of the local soldiers said they´d accompany/ escort us (makes for great photos). We hung out at one of Norman´s other friends house right on the beach (between William, an ex-Army Captain who spent years around there protecting the border, and Norman, they seemed to know absolutely everyone here), lazing in their hammocks, snorkeling and eating a fantastic lunch (snapper and tuna - got to love that!) by the shore. All washed down with a beer or two, Colombian style, called a Michelada - beer with lime in a glass rimmed with salt, and admiring the view. Another one of those "travelling highs" moments.
Next day we caught a boat to Sapzurro and walked over the hill into Panama (just leaving our names and passport numbers with the soldiers at the top of the hill - now that´s a laid back border crossing)
Day 3, Norman said he would show us his Botanical Gardens (complete with butterfly enclosure) and we walked up through the rainforest for a few hours, wading across small rivers to some natural swimming holes for a swim and cool off. By the time we got back at 5-ish, it was time for another cold beer and a swim in the pool, and some more fantastic fish for dinner.
The next day was the piece de resistance. Norman said he had a friend who was a member of a traditional tribal village in Panama, and between us we could hire a local boatman to take us there. So off we left early in the morning, trawling for tuna on the way (Brad caught five, so enough for lunch), stopping at a checkpoint village in the next bay to get other ingredients to cook up with the fish, and then on to Panama. We were so, so far off the tourist radar here - the kids just stopped and stared, then smiled and waved, and the village people, most in traditional dress with gold rings through their noses, were so friendly and hospitable
We had planned to spend another couple of nights there and squeeze in a visit to the more touristed Tayrona National Park further east. It is supposed to have nice beaches (though the thought of staying in little tents - the only budget option except open air hammocks - wasn´t as appealing as lazing around Norman´s, having a dip in the pool with a beer, or walking to the lovely local beach or back across to the one in Panama). Norman´s place won hands down and we ended up spending another 5 nights for some well needed relaxation a world away from long bus journeys, the bustle of bus stations, and changing accommodation every second night. This was the first real beach time we´d had in 7 months in South America, and we just couldn´t face using most of the beach time we had left, to travel to the other end of the coast of Colombia for a beach and hospitality not as good as what we had on tap. Just couldn´t beat snorkelling 10m off shore directly in front of where we were staying, or sipping a beer in the pool, watching toucans and parrots in the trees around us.
Really one of the highlights of Colombia for us.
(For anyone reading this, and interested in staying there, Norman´s website is www.capurgana.net)