I wanted the last piece to have a happy ending so I decided to leave out how the night ended, but I'll dive in now. So after that rejuvenating swim, things got interesting. My original plan was the camp on the beach. Since I couldn't take my bike I didn't have my tent. My new plan was to still sleep on the beach, just without a tent. Just me and the sand. Oh if only I could see into the future. Hazard 1: I started noticing mosquitos just before the sun went down, in a matter of minutes there were thousands of them. Back home, the mossies come out for about an hour or two then they get filled up and go back to sleep. I figured I could wait them out.
No dice, they wouldn't go away. I tried laying down on the beach and covering all but my head in sand. However that is not a one person job. I wasn't able to get every inch of myself covered and they were having a field day on the exposed flesh. They got some fresh American import for dessert. It gets worse. The second hazard was none other than sand flies.....and billions of them. I have had a hate-hate relationship with them since I first met them in New Jersey. They can completely saturate your leg with bites in seconds. They are like mini, more potent mosquitos. Just laying down in the sand and going to sleep was not an option. I didn't bring a blanket or long sleeves or anything to cover up with. Out of sheer desperation I came up with a plan. There were these nice little shaded boxes that were basically comprised of metal poles and a sheet tied on the them to create some shade for anyone under it. I took one of the sheets down and decided to completely wrap myself up in it. I'm sure I looked like a proper mummy, but it was all I could do to keep most of them away. I could still hear the little demons buzzing around my face outside the sheet. To make things more interesting there was also pack of 6 wild dogs that roamed this beach. They were hazard 3. They got freaked out by my mummification and went on a barking spree. The barked for probably 20 minutes straight. Finally, they stopped yapping. At long last after a few hours of trying, I dozed off.
Disclaimer: What you are about the hear I am not proud of, I acted out of fear and desperation. Let me introduce you to hazard 4. Crabs, and very large ones, with giant claws. They were all over the beach. Well anyway, I was rudely awaked by this crab that was sifting through my hair with his claws like he was a hairdresser. I was overrun with feelings, ultimately I reverted back to heathanism and went medieval on this dude. I grabbed my tripod which was the closest thing I could grab and slugged him with it. It was a quick execution. It was fast and painless, but a bit brutal. On the bright side the starving dogs came right over and ate up all the remains. RIP Krabby. By 4:30 AM, I decided to give up on trying to sleep and that I should just try to enjoy the beauty of the place I was in. I got back in the ocean and waited for the sunrise. I noticed something glowing in the water. It had a bright blue glow to it. With every wave that rolled in thousands of these little blue lights would shine a little brighter. No I wasn't hallucinating. These were some sort of tiny sea creature that glows in the dark. I don't know if they are plankton or a type of bacteria, but they were super cool. It was a rough day, and a rough night. There was thick silver lining though. Skinny dipping in the Carribean whilst watching these little blue guys as the stars faded into the sunrise made for a night I will always remember. Thanks Tayrona!
|Typical Colombian parking lot.|
|These were just a few of the giant crabs that roamed these streets.|
|This is where all the trash from the park went.|
As the sun got all the way up I was beyond ready to be back on my bike pedaling along. I was now faced with a new challenge. To get back to my bike, I would either have to trudge back the way I came, or walk about 20 miles on the road. Neither sounded that great, but I started walking back on the road. Right as I approached the park entrance the man operating the gate stopped me to show me his dog that was nursing four puppies. He asked if I was waiting for a bus, or motorcycle. I told him that I was just walking. He looked stunned. I didn't get five steps out the door before a motorcyclist pulled up beside me and asked if I needed a ride. I happily took him up on it. We were cruising along on this little motorcycle bouncing up over every bump and pothole. He took me to a the outskirts of Santa Marta and dropped me off. That saved me about two or three hours. I still had about 13 miles of walking. That sparked an idea though.
|Momma of 4.|
|My motorbike buddy Jorge.|
|This is a stereotypical Colombian alleyway. Note the two random dogs.|
I wasn't too keen on the idea of walking the entire 13 miles to find my bike and then ride again. I decided to try to hitch a ride. I never hitchhiked before, but what better place to learn than in Colombia. I didn't have any luck on the less traveled roads, but as soon as a guy saw me on the main road he stopped to pike me up. It was another motorcyclist. He drove me to the park, but looked baffled when I asked him to drop me off at the creek. He explained that the park was still farther down the road. First hitchhike was a success.
|My first successful hitchhike!|
I wandered into the woods to grab my bike. I was really hoping that it was still there. Sure enough, it was. Right where I left it. Now to get back to Santa Marta for supplies and to figure out what my next plan was. I decided to stop at McDonald's for Wi-Fi and charging. I placed my order and was standing around waiting to pick it up. Right then a Gringo walked in. Mind you, up until this point I think I had only seen four or five Gringos since I arrived. He spoke to my in English! The very first person since I arrived that could speak more than a word or two of english. We sat down together and started chatting. Turns out this French guy owns his own hostel on the beach along with his two brothers. It's called Los Hermanos. He loved the idea of the bike trip and said I could come stay at his hostel if I wanted. It was in the right direction, I hadn't made up my mind yet. He left and I thought about what to do.
|Cows say moo!|
After he left I pondered. A mosquito free bed, Wi-Fi, and shower all sounded pretty good. I would need to hurry though if I wanted to make it by dark. I decided to go for it. I picked up a few things at the shop and hit the road. The climb up the mountain to get out of town was tough. It was close to two hours of pedaling without a downhill. Finally through hard work and sacrifice, I reached the top of this part of the jungle. The downhill began immediately. I was flying down the mountain at breakneck pace. Before I knew it, I was thrown into a Jurassic Caribbean village. On both sides of the road were masterfully constructed wood huts with palm thatched rooftops lining the cliff side. There were kids pedaling tropical drinks that they were busy juicing. Women selling pottery and Colombian clothing. And the men were tending little cocktail bars. The entire downhill, a steady river gracefully rumbled down beside me. Giant hundred year old tress lined the side of the road, most bearing fruit unbeknownst to me. The river was so inviting I had to stop to take a quick swim and wash off some of the salt that had crystallized on my body. A boy that was also swimming noticed me and said, "Extremo a extremo!" as he flashed two peace signs my way. It means "End to end" in Spanish. He had obviously passed by on the road and recognized me as the only longhaired Gringo out there. This part of Colombia was far different from the sullen and downtrodden homes I had seen a few says earlier. They still appeared to be very poor, but the look and scenery was much different. They took more time working on aesthetics, and were more active. Everyone was still marked with a wide smile though. This again felt like I was coasting down through a different world.
|Good ol' river get together.|
|I'm rocking a pretty good farmers tan already.|
|These were some of the larger more modern huts.|
|A native chilling by the river. Right after this shot was taken he dice in.|
It's a very bold statement to make, but this downhill was the best bike ride of my life. The scenery, the people, the architecture and the lack of having to turn the pedal made this a truly breathtaking experience. It honestly got my heart racing and literally took my breath away.
|I'm stunned by how green everything here is!|
|Climbing this massive tree gave me an epic view of the valley.|
As I approached the bottom of the mountain even more palm and banana trees began appearing. Right as I got into the thick of it I neared the beach hostel. I was faced by a young Colombian boy that was the security guard for all the hostels in the area. He put his had out and mumbled some Spanish to stop me, if I had to guess I bet he said "What's The magic word?" I simply said "Los hermanos". He nodded and motioned me through. I knew the code! After a long ride of only palm trees and beach I arrived at Los Hermanos.
|The little tiki tower with hammocks and a net for chilling.|
Just when I thought this day couldn't get any better I entered into a tropical fairytale. Authentic tiki torches dotted the walkway. Impressive circular cabanas were the main sleeping quarters. There was a large net above the tree line overlooking the sea. If you really wanted to chill even more there were tons of hammocks for hammocking. This place is paradise! To top this off, I met a cool group of English speaking backpackers that met in Colombia as well. It was great enjoying this amazing corner of the world with new friends!
|The swanky group of backpackers.|
|Today was awesome!|