We had a couple very interesting experiences this weekend at Tyrona National Park.
To get to the park it’s an hour by bus from Santa Marta, then an hour hike through the jungle to the first beach where you can surprisingly get a pretty good meal. The coastline is shaped like the business end of a serrated knife cutting into the Carribean. The teeth are rocks with bays in between, and each bay a crescent of sand. We hiked another hour west – alternating between jungle and beach – until we reached Cabo San Juan, somewhere out there in the middle, and when you walk out of the jungle you see tents spread out on a wide lawn with coconut palms throwing shade and coconuts. It’s actually kinda dangerous? I heard a stat somewhere that more tourists get killed by falling coconuts than any other source. Just a stat, though. I saw one coconut actually fall, and Azure saw another, but that was it. Azure grabbed that coconut and started pounding it against a concrete step. Over the next two days we worked on it until Azure got through the husk and finally split it open, which was good because a) it tasted great and b) we no longer needed to carry a coconut with us everywhere we went.
One morning we woke up and followed signs to a ‘Pueblita’ that was somewhere up in the mountains. We put on our shoes and set off through the palms and across a stream, eventually coming to some boulders. The boulders went straight up the hill for an hour, so we climbed. We got so far up into the jungle that I started thinking, “Ok, what do I do if a puma attacks? Are there even pumas up here? How do you ask that in Spanish?” etc.
We climbed over boulders that had been made into improvised bridges, under boulders that were too big to go over, over trees with thorns on their trunks and over some nasty looking ant trails. Finally we reached the crest of the hill and the Pueblita was in front of us in this little valley where three streams came together: It was what remains of a little town. There were walls and stairs that were ancient, from the year 400, made of stone and clearly places where houses used to stand. There were paths lining the little valley and a couple foot bridges made of stone. There was an indigenous family there – you shouldn’t take pictures of them – with a dad, mom and about four kids off behind one of the raised foundations. They were sitting by the stream and the kids were running around, two of the boys were throwing rocks at each other. I imagine there are more from their tribe somewhere else, but this particular pueblita was now on the map with visitors coming, so they probably moved their town elsewhere. Az and I sat for a couple minutes to rest. The high valley was very calm and actually kind of cool even during the heat of the day. I thought it was very peaceful.
I have a lot of political opinions about this part of the trip, especially after seeing the poverty in the cities and hearing about the Inquisition (yes, that Inquisition) on this same coast, but this isn’t the place for that. I’ll probably write a blog about it soon enough.
Anyway, after descending over the boulders, over the stream, through the palms, we got a rented a hammock for the night up in this “tower” that was on a high rock out over the waves. The tower is made of wood, it’s a circle about 30 feet in diameter and about 10 hammocks are strung likes spokes on a wheel with a ceiling but no walls. We slept out there with our feet to the center, heads out toward the water.
I’ll tell you, as I was laying there when the light had gone I thought I was in heaven. The wind was blasting, and I love the wind, and the waves were roaring and we were swaying back and forth, talking in the dark on this tower above the water and I had one headphone on listening to Sigur Ros. I think it’s a special place still, but that night – last night – a storm rolled in and the winds picked up. It was howling, actually. It was blowing so hard that our hammocks’ ropes vibrated like guitar strings and it sucked the heat from our bodies and I did have fun, but who wants to have fun when they sleep? It was just too much. We spent most of the night shivering or holding on or being startled by loud bursts of air… so we didn’t sleep well despite the situation.