For his final week with us, we stocked up with mucho gin and tonic, and dragged Martin/Grandpa Monico back to the north Caribbean coast of Colombia, and installed him in an eco-beachhut next to ours. He made friends with the resident iguanas and embraced the ‘rustic’ set up with good grace, cold shower and all!
We felt blessed to have discovered this beautiful stretch of coast, not too overcrowded, with a ‘traveller’ vibe in contrast to Palomino and Santa Marta which felt much more full on ‘tourist’. In contrast to James’ description of Puerto Penalisa, it was very chilled and we saw more reefers in peoples’ hands than rifles. There were only 4 bars/restaurants in over a mile of beach, which served fairly bad ‘traveler food’ (really who can fail at banana pancakes?), but made up for it with lots of traveler-oriented games and gimmicks: tight-ropes strung between palm trees, giant high cargo nets, beach-front yoga platforms, slightly-too-loud-music choreographed by the stoned Aussie behind the bar, and giant jenga which served for a good ice-breaker between the girls and any local kids we could entice to play with us.
On the plus side gastronomically, a 40 minute walk up the beach to ‘fishing boat bay’ brought delectable lunch options, fresh off the boat, plus a swing – whats not to love!
The beach was rugged, with a sea too rough to swim in, but we lucked out on our first night with clear sky and a rare lunar eclipse. The whole event took 4 hours from full moon to blood moon, back to full. James and Martin manfully monitored the entire cycle, sustaining themselves with margaritas whilst reclining under the palm trees at the waters edge.
James managed not-quite to kill off Grandpa on a hike to the ancient Pueblito, one of the most representative historical sites of the Tayrona culture. Most of the old town is now buried beneath the jungle, but enough remains visible for visitors to imagine how it may once have looked and wonder what life was like over 500 years earlier. Many of the ancient traditions sustain today and they were fortunate to see the tribe busily preparing for an annual festival as they passed through (no photos allowed). They were lucky to visit as the site is about to be closed for 10 years to give the local people a break from tourists tramping through their home. Frankly we were all immensely impressed that Martin successfully hiked the 3 hour rocky path (mostly) up, and immensely relieved that they found a couple of motorbikes to hitch a ride back down on!
In anticipation of an upcoming equine drought in Japan, we ventured out for a last ride on the beach, and took in another amazing sunset.
After a sad farewell to Martin, Monicofamilytravels set off on our own hike to the beach in Tayrona Park. We passed Pueblito and on. The girls managed an impressive 11.9 Miles, 1529 feet and 7.3 hours of hiking over the 2 days. It helped that the second half of the hike was more or less like an obstacle course crossing chasms and abseiling down giant rocks using creepers.
Just 20 minutes from our destination, we had the most amazing monkey sighting. I’ve been lucky enough to see a lot of monkey troops in my life, but never so many so close.
The first sight of the sea brought a resounding cheer!
We stayed overnight in Cabo San Juan, which is a beautiful beach, famous for being in fact 2 beaches that back onto each-other, but being the last day of the season before the park is closed for a month of ‘recovery’, it was a bit too overcrowded for our liking.
By the time we arrived our pre-reserved ‘vip hammocks’ (netted and set up on a high viewpoint on rocks) had obviously been resold, and we were allocated the last 4 remaining bog-standard hammocks in the ‘bunker’. We were blessed with lovely neighbours though and a memorable (if not super-sleepful) night!
I couldn’t finish this blog entry without a tribute to Micha the cat that adopted us for the 10 days (nothing to do with the constant saucers of milk offered….). She was the doggiest cat I have ever met, and she trailed round after us, joined the girls for school every day, and broke into our rooms at night to sleep on our clothes. We’ll miss you Micha (especially Emily)!