Adventure Sports Here We Come... Oh Wait Someone's Injured.
San Gil, Colombia
The bus trip to San Gil was relatively painless and quite picturesque. We found the hostel without too much trouble and used the hostel map to find our way to Gringo Mike's for dinner where they served some nice, enormous burgers and a really good brownie for dessert.
In the morning we had a look around town and at the markets, and purchased some things to make dinner. Lindsay was still in quite a bit of pain, so we decided to take it easy for the rest of the day. The hostel had a number of activities detailed in a folder, so we selected the closest and easiest thing to do, a walk to Pozo Azul. This was a swimming hole about half an hour walk away.
We planned to go there, laze around and eat our sandwiches and enjoy what was supposed to be a nice swimming spot. But what we found was a pretty horrible looking swimming hole with dirty looking water, and some little mites or some kind of creature that was biting us, though painlessly, they were drawing blood and leaving big red marks. Needless to say we didn't hang around long.
On our second day in the adventure sports capital of Colombia, it was becoming apparent that any kind of adventure sports were going to be impossible for Lindsay. But we were determined to gain a better impression of the area than Pozo Azul. We selected another option from the book, a section of the Colonial Towns Trek which can be done over 3 days. We would walk from Barichara to Guane. This hike follows the old Camino Real, a 180 year old road that was restored a little more recently.
We took the bus to Barichara and arrived in time for lunch. A fellow traveller had recommended a place to eat that served some authentic local dishes just off the main square, so we went there. Their main speciality was BBQ goat, served up with some salad, yuca and some tasty fried goat offal (easy on the offal please!). Lindsay had that, and Fergus had their dried beef.
As we were paying the bill, the owner offered us another local delicacy, fried ants. Yes ants, those little 6 legged crawly things. Called Hormiga Culona, or big-arsed ant(!), the fertile princesses of this local leaf-cutter are fried up, fortunately with a good helping of salt, and eaten whole. We ate 2 or 3 each but that was enough for us. While not horrible, they are also not particularly pleasant.
With our little protein injection we were ready to start walking. As per the instructions we walked up to the church through the quaint town of Barichara, and found the trail head nearby. The trail was a rock path for the most of it. We made our way down into a bit of a valley, encountering some goats along the way (and feeling bad for having just eaten a friend of theirs).
The scenery around us was beautiful, green peaks. We passed some old farm houses and cows (oops we ate their friend too) and enjoyed the outlook. The 1.5 hour hike ended in a smaller town called Guane, which stretched only 1 block further than the main square in any direction. It was very sleepy, but with a lovely looking old church.
Since we had to wait for a bus we decided to look inside the church. As we entered a short man with a funny eye directed us to the left where there was a statue of the Virgin Mary. He tried to tell us something about it, but we told him we didn't understand.
Fergus walked away but Lindsay, trying to be polite, tried to work out what he was trying to say, up until he started putting his hand a bit close to her girly bits. Slapping his hand away, Lindsay walked away and found Fergus, but the man followed so we left the church without actually looking at anything. Instead, we bought an ice cream and awaited the bus which didn't take much longer.
The next day, we took a trip to a nearby river which had some small cascades and natural pools, called Pescaderito. We had to take a bus to a nearby town, then walk about 45 minutes to where the river intersected the road. From there, we followed the river upstream past a few of the pools until we found one that we thought was the nicest.
The river flowed over beautiful flat rocks and through big boulders. We had a swim in a quiet spot, where only a couple of local kids were daring each other to dive of some rocks. The water was freezing but refreshing and fortunately much cleaner than the other swimming hole we had visited!
We had taken a pack of cards and were playing two handed 500 when quite suddenly it started to rain rather heavily. Fortunately we were sitting near a rocky overhang so we sheltered under that for a while until it cleared. By then it was time to make our way back to San Gil.
Walking back beside the river the way we had come, we discovered that the rain had turned some previously small streams into slightly larger ones. One in particular was a fairly sizeable torrent of water that proved quite difficult to cross. After some manoeuvring and climbing we did manage to get past it, but were grateful the rain had only lasted 15 minutes, or we might have been a little stranded!