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LoznLou´s adventures

The end of the Central American Adventure...Colombia!!

COLOMBIA | Wednesday, 12 May 2010 | Views [752]

After the city of Leon, we missioned to the Island of Ometepe, on Lago de Nicaragua. After a beautiful boatride, we arrived at the small island with 2 massive volcanoes, and very questionable roads. We couldnt believe that it would take 3 hours on the bus to the other side, but after bouncing around in the chicken bus, 3 hours later, we believed. The next morning, with our local young guide, in the searing heat...about 35 degrees, we trecked up a volcano nearby. It was such a challenging trek, and the most interesting, in the last part scrambling on all fours hangin onto tree roots, all worth it for the amazing view of the crater lake, and the monkeys we saw close up on the way. 7 hours later we were completely buggered and extremely dirty. Perfect trek.

We decided that due to time flying we wanted to beeline for Colombia, stopping only in Panama with our friends for a few nights, staying in a cool beach house, in Bocos del Torro. Kayacking, snorkelling, drinking a wee bit, avoiding arrest from misunderstandings with the cops.. all good.

Almost all tourists get to Colombia either on a very expensive tourist boat for 5 days or fly and miss all the good stuff so we did lots of research and found the cheap fast local way. It was amazing. We flew from Panama city to the border of Colombia, flying over the world renound 'dangerous' Darien gap on the smallest plane youv ever seen, fitting only a few people, and pilot right there with no safety briefing or anything. The 'airport' consisted of a runway, and a sign. Thats it. The border town was gorgeous, the locals and the military alike were fully friendly, and getting the tiny local boat over the border was amazing. The coastline is gorgeous, the boatride was funny bumping along.. riding the waves, with young locals happily pointing out exactly where the countries meet. Because there wasnt alot of info around about this crossing, we never really knew exactly where we were going or how long it would take. It worked out perfectly when we docked at a beautiful fishing village in the middle of nowhere with no road access. Dangerous is definetly not how we would describe this beautiful, mellow, welcoming town. Only horse and cart for transport, horses grazing on the green which served as a football pitch, a 'road', walking track, and paddock.

Next leg of the crossing was another boat, slightly bigger this time but small enough to really feel the impact of the waves, luckily it didnt rain as it was entirely open boat, with a couple of locals sleeping at the bow. Then we bussed to the city of Cartegena, staying with a local family in their house slash hotel type situation. Nice city with great street food, interesting old town.. But a city nonetheless.

Another highlight was the mission to find this mud volcano close by. We had no idea what to expect, and it was better than we could have imagined.. we had to take a motorbike ride with young local dudes to get to the 'volcano' which was actually a 15m mound, with natural mud crater, bubbling sulfer. It was very strange getting up the top, there were some people bathing covered in grey mud like it was an everyday activity. So we stripped off and Lou jumped in, pulled in by a man working there, who proceeded to massage her, the looks on her face were priceless. We got into it tho and rolled around massaging each other for ages. Getting to the lake for a rinse off, the local ladys pulled us into the lake, and started roughly washing us, we had no idea what to do so went along with it, laughing the whole time by the way.. before we knew it we were naked getting scrubbed the old fashioned way. Hilarious.

It pissed down with rain, and when taking shelter had classic conversations with the locals, one women in particular who washed us explained how the colombian guys have large packages. Hehe..

Next stop along the carribean coast was Taganga. A nice wee bay hidden from the nearby city. Made friends with some young local dudes who were flipping around on the beach, and got shown some good places for rock jumping. The mango smoothies here were astounding. There is a national park close to here but it costs shitloads, so on the advice of a local we blindly headed for another bay, up a bumpy dirt road on the back of a truck. It was gorgeous, with hardly anyone around, just us, the hills, and the clear blue carribean.

That was the last of the Carribean for now, we headed south to a town called San Gill, on a river in the mountains. The drive there was beautiful, rolling green hills and cute wee villages. We decided to 'splash out' and go rafting, but it only ended up costing about 12 bucks! The 'guides' were just young local dudes who were very relaxed about the mission, it was just us so we stopped on the river at a random house for a beer on the way.. hehe... One of the local dudes offered to take us on a mission that afternoon which was amazing, we went to a village close by and walked through the hills, stopping to sample the local drink guararapa which is a slighly alcoholic drink made from flowers. We reached a river running down from huge rocks which we clambered up, down and around for ages. We jumped off rocks along the way, including the ultimate jumping from a tree above the rocks, and slid down the natural slide made by moss. Only downfall was the wee worms living in the water which made their way into our swimmers. Small price to pay. As the sun went down we lay on the warm rocks, then missioned back, drank some rum and experienced some salsa dancing!

Just when ya think Colombia isnt ultimate enough, we found another ultimate destination. In search for rock climbing we came to this small village in the green hills called Suesca. Its sooooooo beautiful. Set among a green valley and huge rocks perfect for serious climbing, the locals wrapped in blankets are so friendly. There are vertually no other tourists, we arrived a bit late and hitched a ride to our hotel with a man who was to be the key to our experience here. I mentioned that I was here to climb, he took me the next day with all the gear and some other climbing buddies to have the most amazing day. Clambering around in the sun with great people, listening to reggae, while Lou and our other friend Nat wandered around appreciating the valley with its amazing views and welcoming vibe, with lots of dog friends along the way. The hotel we started to stay at was hilarious, reminding Lou of her grannys house, with a fire dangerously close to our bed, which we were sharing, pretty much a single bed with a double mattress ontop. The first night we met a Colombian couple on vaccacion, who were extremely friendly and offered for us to stay with them in the capital city. While they were in our room, in strolled the hotel handy man to light the fire, then in strolled 2 15 year old boys in suits bringing us tea. It was the funniest picture, our very own faulty towers moment.

The guy who took me climbing, Willy, also has a house with a few beds he lets out, so we moved there, now we have our own wee house, for cheaper than the hotel, with amazing views, a huge lawn, a kitchen and friendly neighbourhood dog. We love it here, its beautiful, the people are amazing, and after hearing the bad reputation for Colombia we are so pleasantly surprised. It is the safest county we have been to, the people are the nicest and the scenery is the best. It is very different to Central America and we are sad we dont have more time here...

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