On November 29th, 2017, I wrote my last final exam and finished my undergraduate degree. Now although my birthday was the day before, the 29th was far more exciting as not only did I finish my degree, but one of my closest friends was flying into Bogotá for one final adventure.
My friend Jay arrived late Wednesday night and unfortunately the altitude hit him pretty hard, which I found strange as I never had any problems with it but my Dad had problems too so maybe it’s a guy thing… Regardless, we took the next couple days pretty easy so he could get climatized and we could catch up on the past year of not seeing each other, because we had big plans for the rest of his stay. I was able to show Jay my school, some of my favourite restaurants, La Candelaria, etc. It was so awesome to finally get to chat in person, and not FaceTime, as I hadn’t seen Jay since before I left for Colombia last December. Despite the time and distance, absolutely nothing has changed and I believe that those are the types of friendships worth holding onto.
We began our big adventure on Saturday morning, jetting of to Santa Marta, which if I haven’t mentioned it before, is my absolute favourite spot in Colombia. We explored the city a bit, picked up some groceries for the week ahead and hopped on the bus towards our hostel. Obviously we were staying with my friends, Inti and Luna, at their hostel, The Journey Hostel, as it is by far my most favourite hostel I have ever been to and I knew Jay would love it. When we arrived, we were greeted with big hugs and tongues (from the three dogs). One of my favourite parts about this hostel is that everyone, from the permanent staff to the rotating volunteers, is just incredibly kind, open and sociable. They really know how to make you feel at home. We dropped our bags and hopped on yet another little bus towards Quebrada Valencia aka a giant waterfall (cc. Tews Falls 2012).
Quebrada Valencia is stunning and anyone in Colombia who has yet to see it, is missing out tremendously as I’ve never seen anything like it. Jay being a fan of heights, actually climbed about 15 ft on the side and jumped into one of the pools mid-way up with some locals. Yes, they were all crazy. That night, we enjoyed a delicious dinner with falafel (one of my new favourite things to eat) and had some beers with other travellers. Quite a few were from New Zealand and I would say that is now my new favourite accent. Everyone in the hostel was laughing, playing card games, all having a great time together, simply enjoying life.
On Sunday morning, we ventured off to Parque Tayrona for my 3rd time, but this place never gets old for me. We trekked all the way to Cabo San Juan, where we met a couple from Alaska. I never met anyone from there before so it was neat to hear what they were all about. On our way out of the park, we got trapped in a huge rain storm. Like legit down pour for a couple hours. There was so much rain that we were losing sight of the path and ended up walking in the previous rivers at some points. When we returned to the hostel, we were so exhausted, that we hung out in a hammock with a wee snack just chatting that we were late for dinner. Fortunately the volunteers had some for us and accompanied the two of us while we ate. However this night, while the main room was full of travellers (different from the night before as those people had ventured on), it wasn’t full with the same spirit as the night before. No one was chatting with anyone, everyone was buried in their phones. It was very sad and I’ve made a point of keeping my phone away when surrounded by people ever since.
Monday was day one of our 4-day trek to La Ciudad Perdida. Our group met to eat lunch and bond before starting what I believe was 7km to the first camp where we would stay overnight. To be honest, Day 1 was the hardest. It was all up hill, it was freaking hot out and the two of us were beginning to doubt ourselves. When we arrived to the camp, it was definitely not the Holiday Inn, but something so much better. We all slept in bunkbeds that were lined up in a row and each had a bug net. There were stray dogs and cats, other trekkers and a spot to swim in the river. To Jay’s liking, there was a little cliff he could jump off here too.
Tuesday and Wednesday consisted of more trekking and in fact, we trekked all the way to our final camp. It was on Wednesday morning that we woke up and began to climb 1200 stairs to La Ciudad Perdida. We came across all the old ruins of the village that used to be there, a few Indigenous people who still live there and breath-taking views. Once up there, we completely forgot about the work we put in to get there because the view made it all worth it.
Out of all of my trips I went on in 2017, this trip was by far my favourite because not only did I challenge myself 24/7, I had great company as well. I will definitely miss Colombia, in fact, I already do…everyday but will be forever grateful that I got to experience a wonderful country for as long as I did.
Cheers to whatever adventures 2018 brings!