Cali - San Ciprianio
A Colombian work colleague had told me what ever I do "don't go into the jungle, you look like money" I took it as compliment of sorts, but I would soon find out what he meant.
We came back to Cali for one night before visiting the former African slave community now national park of San Cipriano deep in the jungle on the road to Buenaventura. It's often the case that going somewhere is good but the real excitement is the getting there. For San Cipriano the going and getting were both off the chain fun!
A 7:00am start on a bus for 3 hours was interrupted by a massive road block. Leaving the bus behind we walked past the behemoth goods lorries along the brand new road surrounded by dense Colombian jungle. With police armed to the teeth checking peoples ID's, this was obviously still a dangerous place to be. As the trucks began to move again we jumped in the cab of one and drove only 5 minutes down the road to the town of Cordoba. From Cordoba we were greeted by friendly locals all vying for our business. We walked down the hill with our new amigo to the train tracks. The ingenious locals utilise the abandoned railway line to get to the otherwise unreachable San Cipriano. On the tracks was a motorbike with its back wheel attached to one rail and a wooden pallet with benches as it's sidecar. We paid our 10,000 Pesos and began the 15 minute hair raising thrill ride down the single train track through jungle and swamp. This has to be one of the best modes of transport I've been on, completely insane and extremely dangerous, especially when you meet another bike trolley coming the other way!
We walked unguided through the town approached by many locals to see if we wanted cabanas for the night or to rent a tube. We were the only tourists in the town which was alive with locals chatting and reclining in the coolness of their wooden shacks. The town is situated next to a large ambling river and perfect for sitting in an inflated tire tube and floating down. The small rapids and large lagoons surrounded by jungle vegetation were amazing. Considering Laura has done a skydive, abseiled down a 30m waterfall and biked down death road, I was surprised that sitting on essentially a water park lazy river would draw out screams of pure terror from her! After we got out of the 50cm deep water rapids we ate fresh trout from the river and made it back to the main road to catch our bus back to Cali.
On the way back we were again stopped by police patrols, armed with automatic rifles and no sense of humour they demanded our identification. As in the morning, all the men left the bus and were patted down for concealed weapons and the bus was searched. We produced the photocopy of our passports and again had to explain why we were here, how long we were staying etc. In San Agustin we were told by our guide that no American tourists come here it is only DEA agents and reporters that seek to cause trouble. Colombians have a deep suspicion of tourists especially Americans. We were in Guerrilla territory where in times gone past the Cali cartel had produced its premium export. My colleague was right, the jungle is dangerous, but that's why it's so fun! As we got back on the bus I put my cap backwards and high fived Laura! "Yeehar we made it!"
Next stop Solento and coffee country.