Thursday, April 8, 2010

Previously on Lost: Parque Tayrona

Santa Marta isn’t just fantastic beaches, it has a little of everything, the Sierra Nevada Mountains behind with villages, waterfalls, rivers and organic coffee. There is also Rodadero, a little Miami where the wealthy from the interior like to play. On the opposite side of Santa Marta is the backpacker/fishing village of Taganga, which is also a fantastic place to take a diving course. Then there is the jungle trek to Ciudad Perdida. However if beaches are what you want and what you came for, the best in South America lie in Parque Tayrona, Colombia.

I had wanted to go for ages but wanted someone to go with me. What’s the point of sleeping in a hammock on a beautiful beach practically naked (in some places completely naked) by yourself? A really cool group of Argentineans came to the hostel along with two amazing Chilean girls, my perfect opportunity for beach paradise. After convincing my bosses with my best big eyes, I packed my bag, grabbed my hammock and bug net and jump on a bus. The Argentineans left about twenty before me so I had to get there by myself on two buses and then hike through the jungle for an hour to catch up.

At the entrance military searched by bag before entering then I had my trek ahead of me. An hour completely alone in the jungle can do funny things to you. I found myself practicing my double R’s in Spanish, saying out loud “Carretera, Carro, perro.” I sounded completely ridiculous. I moved quite quickly on the trail hoping the find the others on the beach, waiting for me with water and food as I ran out of the hostel too quickly I had nothing but one small bottle of water.
I finally got to where the jungle opens up to the beach but it was deserted. There was no hot Argentineans, no one in sight. I found an Italian couple that had stayed in my hostel but they hadn’t seen them. I looked at the campsites guest book and they were not in there. Strange, they told me Arrecifes the first beach why would they go to another? I walk on further checking in at each campsite and found nothing. I then started to ask random people if they had seen 5 Argentineans. Right, it’s like asking if you have seen a Chinese person in Sydney. I was first directed to La Piscina the next beach with more camping but they weren’t there either. I walked back to the first beach and saw no one again. The next group of people I asked directed me to the furthest beach El Cabo, there were lots of Argentineans and that is where most people stay. I was tired, hot, hungry, thirsty and frustrated. How hard could it be to find some Argentineans on a deserted beach? I trekked through jungle trails to get to the last beach. I was even too exhausted to care about a monkey that was hanging in a tree beside me. Once I got to El Cabo I saw a fantastic campsite with tents, an island hut with hammocks, people playing games, a football pitch and a line of ants carrying bits of leaves across the ground in front of me but no Argies. Again I checked the guest book and they weren’t in there. It didn’t make sense at all. I had seen so many past guests from the hostel and random other people I had met elsewhere but not the Argentineans. I hiked back again to the first beach. People saying hi and asking if I had found them along the way, even vendors selling Arepas and soft drinks in wooden huts asked how I was doing and if I found them.
I didn’t know what to do I was about to give up when I got to Arrecfies I saw a group of people sitting on the beach. It was them and they had just arrived. Apparently they walked 20 min before catching a bus then their bus broke down and they had to wait to get another. They didn’t get the bus from the park entrance to the start point of the trail so I had past them hours ago.

It was late and getting dark so we got our hammocks set in Don Pedro’s camping. The next day I showed them the way to get to the beaches which I knew inside and out. When we came to El Cabo it was like paradise, a clear blue sky, palm trees, coconuts, and warm Caribbean water with lots of brightly coloured fish. We spent the day sunning, swimming and eating coconuts. I could have stayed a week. I didn’t end up making it to the nude beach which was one of my goals but again I wasn’t going alone and the opportunity to go didn’t present itself also I was too tired from my trek the day before. It will have to be another time but hopefully the trek next time will not be done alone and I will trade my hammock for a hammock for two.

Paradise found in Parque Tayrona, Colombia

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