Trip Start Jul 05, 2005
Trip End ??? ??, 2006

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Flag of Colombia  ,
Tuesday, April 18, 2006

I have just gotten back from the most relaxing, peaceful and most beautiful place in Colombia and probably in the world (at least what I've seen so far).

A few weeks ago, my cousin Juan Guillermo(we call him Juancho)called me to ask me what I was doing holy week (it's a big holiday week here -- everyone has Thursday and Fridays off) and I told him I was thinking of going to Costa Rica to go Whitewater rafting. He insisted that I go with him to his "island" on the carribean/Atlantic coast of Colombia. I was skeptical at first, especially since as a kid he had sold me a line of goods and told me he was going to build an island by throwing rocks into the ocean and that is where he was going to live. Silly me for being skeptical...he really does have an "island" in the middle of the ocean. Don't you all start booking your trips now :-) it's not an island that you can walk around, but it certainly is a house in the middle of the ocean surrounded by crystal clear water and gorgeous coral reefs. There is no cell phone reception, no TV, and no Internet. I decided to take Juancho up on his offer and after being in NY and DC on business and pleasure (loved seeing you all), I landed in Bogota on Sunday night, April 9 and off I went the next morning to Monteria where my cousin had a driver pick me up and drive me to his friend's house in Tolu (about 1 1/2 hours by car).

I arrived at my cousin's friend's house, Michel and Maria T, where I was warmly greeted by a bunch of people I had never met before and a cousin I hadn't seen in a long time. Seeing Juancho again was super great and meeting his friends was terrific. They were warm and welcoming. In fact, we ended up spending the night at their house (did I mention it was on the beach and was amazing??) and got up the next morning to head to the dock area of the town to take a tour boat (Michel's boat was broken) out to my cousin's "island." I had been camping before, so I knew I could rough it. On the way to his island, the boat stopped at an island called "Las Palmas" where we started the day off with 4 beers (for those of you who know me....you know that was not a good idea). Anyway, I was so excited and yet anxious at the same time. No Internet, no cell phone? Was there even a toilet and running water??? Adventure runs in my family and Juancho was definitely adventurous. I figured, what's the worst that can happen??I have to pee in the water?? Been there done that (not in a pool though and definitely not in yours Lucy).

The ride in the boat was great! The water was warm, the sun was shinning and I really didn't have a care in the world. Life was good. Then, we started to approach MAR Y CIELO (Ocean/Sea and Sky/Heaven), the name of the island. It was absolutely gorgeous!!! It was a two story house with a dock on either end, hammocks and a view to die for!!! And there was running water, a shower and a bathroom (YES!). I couldn't get over how awesome this house was and that is was literally in the middle of the ocean built on rocks.....

We got off the boat along with the cooler, pillows, a motor for Juancho's pontoon boat, tunes and our stuff. Pepe, a native who is kind of like the caretaker of the house was there to greet us with a warm smile and open arms. I got off the tourist boat and onto the dock of the house and could not close my mouth!! My cousin kept saying "This is your house and you are the princess of this house." If he only know what crazy words he was uttering, he never would have said them.

Anyway, I can go on for paragraphs (if only writing long forms were this easy -> for my crim sec peeps). I'll tell you that we had fresh lobster, crab, fish and excellent coconut rice for meals, rode around in the water on the boat, hang out on the main island, "the islote" with the natives. I have fallen in love with this place, but more so have fallen in love with helping these indigenous people (Another entry to follow). I am going to send you all an email and ask you to help me with this new project and if any of you really want to come to the "island" and are willing to give up some of your vacation time to help these people, I would love to have you!!!

Well, after this vacation and not wearing makeup or blow drying my hair for a week, I can tell you all that I feel great (tan is pretty sweet too!!)!! The week on the island helped me decide that I need to spend more time here helping this gorgeous country and giving you all more opportunities to come visit!!

Check out the pictures, they are, truly amazing!!

Love you all!
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