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Friends in the jungle – Amigos en la salva

I came to meet Nicole in Colombia. I had time between Peru and Buenos Aires and I couldn’t decide what to do. From a location perspective Colombia made the most sense. Although I prefer doing cou

ntries fully, and I would not be able to do this with Colombia, my ticket booked back to London from Buenos Aires is on the 6th of April so this was how the itinerary would go. (That’s a whole other blog. Thinking overload going on!)

Ok back to the present Megan. A brief night in Cartagena and then it was off to the jungle. A five hour road trip with our man Lewis. We had met our first friend. We ate cheese Doritos and apples as we sang along to Michael Jackson through the villages and football mad streets. And then we entered a tunnel of green. We had arrived in Tayrona. A national park known for its jungle and Caribbean coast.

Off to our Ecohab. Up endless stairs lined with passages of trees and bushes. Being careful not to disturb the army of ants who were working tirelessly carrying petals and leaves on their backs. Storming passed each other. Sometimes even standing on each other. They mean business these busy ants. And these aren’t the sweet little black ones we are used to seeing. We’re talking giant red ones that bite. Those were the first friends we met in the jungle.

After that we bonded with every creature around. We had regular visitors. A crab in the bathroom. I named him Sebastian and swiftly made Nicole get him out of there! Crabs are not meant for the bathroom if you know what I mean 😉.

Then we had countless lizards. A spider or two. Non stop grasshoppers. A frog or puña. The odd butterfly and last but not least- mosquitoes in the hundreds. We were never alone.

Especially shower time. Don’t even imagine that we were ever able to shower by ourselves. Nope… there was always something popping in to say hiiiiiii. “You better wash your hair so speedily because who knows when I’m going to jump, fly or crawl in there to join you”. Aaahhhhhh. I’ve never washed my hair so quickly. Relaxing leisurely showers?! Forget about it!

No the relax time was saved for the hammock. There is something so containing and calming about hammocks. Its like going back to being a baby and being rocked. It may be the sensation of feeling safe and cocooned. Or it could be the feeling of being held when everything else around you is open. Whatever it is being in a hammock is my favourite place to be. Add when the sun is beating down on you. And the sound of the sea is around you. And the view of jungle meets beach as you fan yourself moving back and forth… nothing can top it.

When we weren’t swinging on our porch, our days involved walks through the jungle. In 30 degree heat and I don’t even know how much humidity. The jungle trails lead to different beaches and camping sites but the only way to get there is to trek. Told that the walk to one of the most popular beaches was 2 hours away… Nicole and I set off in search of sea. At the 2 hour mark, we checked in with a local selling coconuts. ‘How long until we get there?’ Media hora. 45 minutes later and a whole lot of perspiration we saw another local. ‘How long until we get there?’ And the standard response. Media hora! Ok so this continued until we reached the 4 hour mark. And then we saw the sign. We made it!

Other days, my favourite ones, were spent at the beach by our resort. Turquoise ocean. Waves. Sun. And let’s bring out those freckles time.

It was on days like these that we met some real friends. Not just creepy crawly ones. Juan and Jay from Washington. Juan originally from Medellin and Jay originally from Rotterdam are the funniest married couple we could have found. (Everyone else there was a little snore!). So when we found J squared (the duos new name- I just thought of that!) we knew we had scored. Wine on the beach. Boozey dinners and after dinner drinks filled our time for the last 2 days we were there. Meeting them was he highlight of our time there. They bring fun, calm, energy and laughs. And there are now a few trips in the diary to Medellin and London to take the craziness global.

A common sighting in Colombia is coconut. Let me tell you I had coconut in everything. Coconut rice and fish wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed. Limonada de coco. Cocado (coconut and sugar or dulce de Leche. All as delicious as they sound.

And then there were coconuts themselves. On our last day, after the best massage I have ever had. On a bed on the beach listening to the sea… Nicole and I found J squared on a day bed on the private beach at our resort. We joined them in our robes and chatted away. And then we heard a thud. We all commented that it was a coconut. Mmmmm wouldn’t it be amazing to drink coconut water right now!?

Taking that as almost a challenge, I jumped up and said- I’ll go get one. Wishing I had a helmet to take with me on my quest, off I went. To the trees. In the bushes. Through the leaves. Searching for the recently landed coconut, while constantly looking up and holding my hands over my head while scanning the floor. I could hear the three of them laughing in the distant background and shouting in a mocking way… ‘do you have it’ ‘did you find the needle in the haystack’.

This obviously made me more determined… Refusing to come out empty handed and have them be correct. And then it appeared. Bright yellow ball amidst the old and rotten brown. Haha eat your words while I eat the coconut I thought. I climbed back out from the bushes and leaves. With a coconut in hand, I pranced up to them with a victory wiggle in a gown. (Like a victorious boxer!) I found it!!!

Now let’s open this thing up! Opening a coconut is a lot of work. I tried to smash it against anything I could. And after countless attempts, and definitely a destruction of ecohab property… Juan took me to find a man with a machete! And so the process of opening it started. And what a production it was.

The locals were convinced that there was nothing in there. That it was old and dry. They gave it a shake and there was no movement of water. Come on let’s open it anyway.

Step 1- machete.

Step 2- peel

Step 3- reveal the nut

Step 4 – slice the top

Step 5 – pour out the juice (of which there was a lot! And it was cold and incredible)

Step 6 – eat the fruit and say yum!!!

The saying ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ was just given a true story! When they shook it and it appeared dry, it was only because there was so much liquid in there… there was no room to hear the water splash when it was shaken!

Coming to Colombia has been like coming to the Caribbean. So immediately the pace is relaxed. Chilled. Slow. Gentle. My goodness I’ve written about insects. Coconuts. And hammocks. That’s it. But that is what this part of the country has been for me. So different to the other South American countries I have been to.

It makes me wonder with big eyes… what else is out there in this big world of ours?! Again when I think I have it figured out, I get reminded that I have only just scraped the surface.

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