A man's gotta know his limitations.
- Dirty Harry
Perhaps my first clue should have been there was no one else in any of the hiking groups for Ciudad Perdida that looked over 30. Or that seemed to have any ounce of fat on their bodies. Or seemed to be sweating.
Long story short, I decided that after the first day of hiking the trail to Ciudad Perdida, a relatively short 4.7 miles, there was no way in God's good earth I was going to do three more days of hikes up to 8 miles. I chose to return with another group and cut my hike to two days. And schedule a less strenuous hike for my remaining time.
That's not say I didn't enjoy the experience I did have.
Santa Marta beach at sunset was lovely. My 2-star hotel was adequate (although for my first 6 nights in Colombia, I did not have hot water in any of my hotels.) Huge statues of the Tairona Indians watch over the beach.
For some people, I suppose. Inoperable bathroom at The Magic Tour travel agent office. Seemed pretty well organized but do not expect an English speaking guide. Find a bi-lingual fellow traveler ASAP.
At the small mountain town of Machete, reachable only by an hour and a half of bumping along 4-wheel drive roads, the kids watch Phineas and Ferb, Curious George, etc. just like my grandkids in the US. Same glazed expression. An iPhone was being charged there as well. You'd think there would be more international understanding with every kid in the world watching the same dumb cartoons and using the same stupid technology.
A swimming hole in the river 45 minutes into the hike. Next hour and a half was climbing pretty much straight up. The temp that day in Santa Marta was 99 degrees. I didn't get to the top first. I didn't think I was going to make to the top at all. (See note about no other hikers fat or over 30 above.)
The mountains themselves were beautiful. Although this a national park, it seemed plenty of private farming was being done. Lots of mules, donkeys and motorbikes shared the trail bringing supplies to the locals. Still some signs of terracing of the indigenous people on the hillsides.
Didn't see any snakes. I'm sort of glad. You don't have to know much Spanish to figure out this warning.
Every kid needs a machete.
My bunk at the camp. Columbia roosters start crowing at 3:30AM. I didn't experience any mosquitoes. Cold showers. But cold beer for sale and a filling meal. I woke up during the night thinking I heard rain on the tin roof and wondered how anyone could hike these trails when slick with mud. Turned out it was just the sound of the river a few feet from the bunkhouses.
As my daughter likes to observe, it's not really an adventure without a swinging bridge. This one leads into the first camp. There were satellite TV dishes on one of the buildings in the camp.
I hiked most of the way back by myself, getting a jump on my adopted group, with these two boys sometimes ahead and sometimes behind me. I am guessing the closest school was back in Machete, where the hike began.
Large parts of the trail were of a white powder (no, I don't think it was cocaine). Made for really dusty shoes. I had been dreading the long steep downhill path that I had climbed the day before, but somehow I lost the trail and got on a mining road - that thankfully got me back to the same place - with a more gradual descent.
Typical trail conditions. What you don't see is that the climb continues around the corner. Steeper. And again and again. And what you don't feel is the humidity. Did I mention how difficult this trail was?
It was good to get back in town. I hope who ever owns this restaurant finds a new marketing guy.
We are working on developing growth mindsets in our staff and students and I need to apply the growth mindset to this adventure.
- I didn't get to the Ciudad Perdida - yet. The Lost City will remain lost until I have the time to do it in 5 or 6 days instead of 4 (or I get younger). December is supposed to be the coolest month. A retirement plan.
- I need to begin selecting more age-appropriate activities. The hike in Tayrona Park along the beach from Canaveral to Cabo San Juan was a couple hours each way, lots of relatively short hills, still in 99 degree heat, but broken up with a 3 hour break on a beach. Very doable. God, I hate to admit I am getting old, though.
- And I am beginning to think that hiking from lodge to lodge is a nice way to adventure. Lighten the load of clothes and sleeping bags and stuff. But I am not ready to give up camping quite yet.
So I am not sure if this hike was a failure or a learning experience - or both. At least I survived so I can face the bugs, bears and lightning bolts of the Boundary Waters with the Boy Scouts this August.
Last night in Colombia. I wonder if tonight's hotel has hot water?