23.11.2010 - 29.11.2010 30 °C
That same day we were off to Santa Marta. The 13 hours trip turned up to be a 22 hour trip: we got stuck in the highway for 5 hours in the middle of the night because a bridge fell off; it tore down from the heavy rain that had been affecting Colombia for the last three months or so. This bridge connected the cities in the coast with inland, so we had to take a detour that delayed the trip 3 extra hours. After an exhausting bus ride we were in Taranga, Santa Marta.
The first thing that chocked us was the heat. After having been in cold places for so long we were amazed at the heat even in the night. We just decided to chill out, swim a bit and relax. The Carribean water is really salty and warm, it just felt so good swimming around, especially since you float without making any real effort. The place is pretty gringo, but we did not really mind it, it was just too damn nice being in a warm place. We did not really go out party, but had a few drinks. We ran into the Swedish guy that we had met in Popayan and a few others.
After a few days of serious chill, we decided to go and do the Lost City Trekk. We had quite a good group of mixed nationalities, though not nearly as good group dynamics as when we did the crossing over the salt flats between Chile and Bolivia. Most of the other people were just travelling for a few weeks, and for some this was the first trek that they had ever done in their lives, so many found it really hard. We had hear that it should be pretty tough, but too be honest we were even a bit bored as we walked too short the first three days. It was pretty steap and extremely muddy, but we reached the camps at lunch time and were not really sure what to do with the rest of the day.
The camps were pretty basic, some days we would sleep in hammock, which was a bit different, but ok. However, they really spoiled us with the food. Each group had one chef with them and they had placed fruit in loads of places along the path. We definitely never went hungry.
The scenary got better and better the closer we got to the Lost city and on the final morning we crossed some amazing water falls and saw some amazing jungle. We also had to cross over a few rivers, a few of the were pretty strong and we had to hold on to a rope and form a chain so that no one got swept away with the river. One of the rivers was so big that we had to cross over on some sort of cage attached to a rope, hanging about 10 meters above the water. When one of the girls were crossing a dog jumped on to the cage. However, in the middle of the river, the cage thing started to move a lot and the dog suddantely fell down. It was so unfortunate that the dog fell on some rocks and died directly. Everyone was pretty chocked and did not know if we should laugh or what.
Finally after 3 and a half days of trekking we finally reached the stone steps leading up to the lost city. The steps seemed to never end, but I was really making a dash for it to manage to see the place by myself. I made it up the 700 high stone steps or so first of all and had a good 5 minutes by myself. Everyone had talked the actual place down a lot, saying that its only the walk that is nice, but that the city itself was not much to see, so when we saw the place we were really amazed how big it was. It may not be as impressive as Machu Picchu, but there were no tourbusses loaded with tourist, no shops selling icecreams, no maps, nothing, only us in the city.
One of our guides was the original tour guide. He had been with the group that got kidnapped by the guirilla (or paramilitaries) a few years back and had even gotten some fame from it. His dad was a graverobber (this sounds so much worse then it was as it was simply poor people trying to survive). However, when things got violent between the treasure hunters, it was him who went to the authorities to inform about the discovery of the lost city. After this the government came with military and experts to try to preserve what was left. Our guide knew absolutely everything about the place and told us so many crazy things. Actually one of the craziest things was that apparentely several of the other guides in other groups were ex-paramilitaries, so he was trying not to talk too much and too loud about the kidnapping that he went though.
After a few hours in the lost city we started going back. In the evening all of us stayed up celebrating and having a good time. A guy from another group told everyone that he could smell cards and basically say if a card was Hart just by sniffing it. He really put on a show and everyone was screaming each time he got it right. I have to say that he sort of fell for it too, but started to be extremely suspichious when it went too far and he said that he could also hear what card it was. Thinking back we were all pretty stupid, but everyone sort of pushed eachother too believe it. What we did not know was that the person who sort of pushed us the most by screaming and agreing that the cards did smell a bit different with the colors, was in on the trick as well. We later found out that he had been told quickly in Swiss-german that he should kick him on the leg different ways depending on the cards… Ok so it was not real, but what a showman and what an actor. All hats off!
The last day was a long day and everyone was pretty tired from the night before too. We had decided to do the trek in 5 days instead of 6, so the last day was a full 8 hours trek. After a long walk, we had to sit 3 hours in a car that first got stuck in mud twice, and later leaked in rain. We finally came back wet and freezing, but very happy with the experience.