Whatta They Got in There, King Kong?

Trip Start Apr 07, 2013
Trip End Apr 21, 2013

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Flag of Colombia  , Magdalena,
Thursday, April 11, 2013

Yes, the bus was late. But they actually called the hostel to tell us they'd be late, which was downright shocking. We've had a fantastic experience with our tour company so far. There are only four companies that do this trek so you're a little short on choice, but we played roulette and won :)

This isn't our first jungle tour so we were ready for the two to four hour process of gathering everyone in the group, getting the food together, packing the Jeep, etc. It went by pretty quick and before we knew it 12 of us were piling into one massive land rover to make the three hour drive on a nearly impassable road to the starting point. These are the kind of roads that turn Hummers into downright necessities. Two girls sat up front with the driver, and we all got a good laugh when he refused to move until they buckled up. The other ten of us were squished sideways in the back with no seatbelt in sight! I was a little worried when I heard there would be 12 people in our group, but it sounds like more than it really is. We're hiking with a pretty diverse crowd; there are people from India, Australia, Belgium, Holland, France, and the States. We hear a lot of languages! Our guide doesn't speak any English but the 12 of us combined make for a pretty good translator, so we're getting by okay. I noticed about an hour into the drive that the needle on the fuel gauge had been bouncing on empty for several minutes when the driver finally said we were stopping for gas and pulled up to a house. Um, where's the gas station? Out popped a young man holding a five gallon jug of gas. Apparently that was all we needed, but we were still sitting on a big red E with two hours of 4-wheel drive required terrain ahead of us. Comforting. Things got so bumpy at one point that Brittany's backpack flew off the top of the Jeep (where we thought it had been securely stored) and into the arms of a guy that just happened to have is hand out the window at the time. What if it had fallen straight out the back and we didn't find out until we got to the starting point an hour later? I guess Brittany would have been redefining the meaning of "packing light"!

As we drove up 40 degree grade switchbacks six inches from hundred foot cliffs I couldn't help but laugh as I pictured any of our parent's faces if they had been there with us. Terrifying is the new fun! The views were the trade off. We're in the mountains now but we could still see the topaz blue Caribbean Sea in the distance, and we often found ourselves eye level with the clouds.

We hiked four hours today, but the second hour was by far the worst. It was non-stop uphill for what may as well have been eternity. When I say uphill I don't mean a little incline; I'm talking sustained 20 to 30 degree grade. Usually I'm running up the trails and the head of the group. Today I was often falling back with the slow people, ugh. Guess who brought up the rear? There were a few times that I genuinely wondered if Brittany would make it, but she pulled through. I had thought about playing the Macho card and carrying her pack along with mine, but I was dry heaving every few feet myself! Ten minutes later I got to feel like a real wimp as I saw our 5' nothing guide carrying THREE packs up the trail (including Brittany's). He wasn't just carrying them; he was hiking with finesse. The guy wasn't even breathing hard. I, on the other hand, was wondering where I could buy a third lung. At the turn of every switchback we prayed we'd see the inclines stop, but they just kept coming. Towards the end I held back and waited for Brittany to catch up. I watched her face as she reached the corner and saw it change from desperate hope to crushing depression. Up the hill we go! Having fun yet honey? :) I definitely owe her some daiquiris on a beach somewhere...

Obviously, the trail was tough and I don't think either of us have been this completely exhausted and drenched with sweat in our lives. I told Brittany to take comfort in an old backpacker adage: when everyone smells, no one smells. She disagreed.

Once the path started to level off we had a chance to really take in where we are. Imagine walking around in Jurassic Park, and you've got a spot-on idea of what we're seeing. There's even some bird making a sound that I could swear was used for the Dilophosaurus (the one that spits poison and eats Newman) in the movie. I about flipped out when I heard it. We're walking around in Jurassic Park and we even get the dino sound effects. It's awesome! As we walked along I found a big piece of beautiful pink quartz and picked it up. I thought it would make for a good souvenir, but once I realized that quartz is all over the place here I decided to NOT start carrying rocks uphill and just pick one up on the way down. I hope I remember. I'm starting to think the horses here may be training to join the Olympic team for synchronized bowel movements (I'm quite sure that's a thing now). They're used to carry supplies up the mountain, and we all walk the same trail. You would think that there would just be poop everywhere, but you'd be wrong. There are long stretches with nothing and then certain sections with massive piles of it, as if they all coordinated to go in the same spot. Interesting. I'd better change the topic before the bulk of this paragraph is about poop.

By the time we reached our camp for the night both of us could barely move. At one point on the hike my right leg actually locked straight so hard that I had to use my arms to force it to bend. Now I know why there aren't any fat people in our group: if they tried it, they would die. We settled in to our deluxe accommodations and I took a shower with river water so cold it literally knocked the wind out of me. That's Brisk, baby!

Our guides used wood burning ovens to make a surprisingly good meal of rice, potatoes and chicken. After practically bathing in 100% DEET (this is some serious stuff, actually illegal to buy in the country) I'm ready for bed. I got a little of it on my lips and they promptly went numb. Come and get it bugs, I dare you! My hammock is calling my name, but I have to admit I'm a tad nervous about it because I've never actually slept in one before. Ten bucks says one of us gets flipped out on her butt on the first try. Wait, did I give away who I think it will be?
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