Let me be clear from the very first lines: to climb the mountains of Sierra Nevada, in the jungle full of snakes, scorpions, mosquitos and wild cats (sic!), in mad humidity and equally mad heat, is NOTHING easy. You’ll be wet all the time, could it be from the river you’ll need to cross (and you’ll need to cross many), heavy rain, or your own sweat. And your clothes won’t get dry overnight, in fact sometimes you’ll find them even more wet the next morning. You’ll be tired, really tired, and the only thing you can do to relieve yourself will be to swear with all the most cruel swear words you know. But you can’t stop. for many reasons you can’t. You’ll have to continue in the rain, heat, water, with your bum squeezed from muscular pain. You’ll be constantly hungry and thirsty, no matter how much you eat and drink. And your diet will be quite monotonous for couple of days. Although you’ve probably never appreciated your food more than these days. Occasionally you’ll be scared, for example when you realize that the bite of the purple snake staring at you is absolutely mortal, and there is no antidote for it, and even if there was – you are three days away from any civilization, and no helicopter will ever land in the insane landscape of the jungle. And the only mode of transport, other then your own legs, are donkeys, who quite frequently die on a way, from snake bites or simply from exhaustion. Or when you jump to blissfully refreshing river, after all day of walk, only to realize that you are trapped in the current and the way back seem more difficult with every second. Or when you sleep in your hammock and realize that the only thing protecting you from the dangers of the jungle is your mosquitiera..
As a result of all of this: if you ever have any worries, problems, broken heart, anything that you can’t get out of your mind – do some rough traveling. Go to the jungle, climb the mountains, or ideally – climb the mountains in a jungle – it’s the best soothing ingredient. After couple of hours, and even better – couple of days, you will start feel hungry, tired, thirsty, and it will slowly push all the other problems away and make them look quite silly. Your own guts will take over and they will free you out from anything you left behind.
To enter the Lost City you MUST go with the guide. Otherwise the guards stop you and take you back. So I had to break my golden rule and for five days become a tourist. But my desire to see La ciudad Perdida was stronger. After few days I understood why you can’t get in without a guide. Even with him, it was a pretty rough experience.
First the jeep, which surely has celebrated its golden anniversary, took us from Santa Marta closer to the mountains. We stopped for a short lunch, before starting five days long trek. I went for a little walk. Two Indigenous guys, one in wellington boots, and one barefoot, walked into the tiny local shop and asked for a beer. Both of them in their traditional white clothes, and long dark hair. This long hair always thrills me, so I frozen in excitement and could not stop staring at them. They stared back. We all smiled in mutual appreciation of the encounter.
As we were about to start the trek, I could hear some roar. Something like a distant thunderstorm. As soon as we made the first step – the sky opened. And when I say it opened – I really mean it. Within seconds, literally, I was soaked to the last thread… But I didn’t stop. The guide mentioned we have to harry up, to cross the river before the level rises too much with the rain. If it does – we have to camp in the forrest until it gets down so that we can cross it. He didn’t mention we have to cross the river three times. Or was it three rivers, they all looked the same to me.
I saw two indigenous kinds, completely oblivious to the rain. Again: one in wellington boots, one barefoot. Is it some kind of rule here: heavy shoes or no shoes at ll?? Soon after the guide has lost the sole, and I have lost the guide. Well, I haven’t really lost him, but I have left him way behind. The monotonous rhythm of the walk, the noise of the heavy rain, repeated movements – all of this slowly became quite hypnotic. I stopped thinking about the fact that I am wet, that my shoes are completely falling apart (they survived until day 4, before they have completely opened, leaving my toes shamefully naked and vulnerable), that I have to walk like this for couple of hours, before we get to the next camp, that we have to climb and sweat, and that it doesn’t look like it’s going to stop raining. It became a kind of trans, when your body does one thing, but your mind is way beyond this. I felt so very good, so very free, besides the tiredness, I even realize it is a great, overwhelming pleasure to walk like this. Besides my body didn’t really betray me. It was walking me up and down, without bothering me too much. I never felt better in my body than these days and I have probably never been in better physical condition. In fact the very last day, when I left all the group way behind, the guide approached me with tiny shine of admiration in his eyes, saying: you are really strong, aren’t you? I laughed. I was exhausted, I really was, but my stamina wouldn’t let me stop.
The rain continued. So when it came to crossing the river, I didn’t even try any pirouettes on the stones: I walked straight in. My shoe quickly filled up with water and mud, burying my feet somewhere deep down in this mixture. I hardly noticed it.
Hours after we arrived to the first station. The rain stopped. Dramatically soaked, I took off my clothes and jumped in straight into the ‘natural baths’ – a river full of pools and cascades. Real paradise, impossible to describe. I started to swim, when suddenly I realized my movements were completely ignored by the river – a strong current (after hours of heavy rain – the water was falling from the mountains with mad force) took me in its arms, and I felt trapped. The stronger I tried to swim – the more the river was mocking my effort. I tried to stand down, but I realized It was way too deep. All my movements were hopeless. Some people at the bank saw the fear in my eyes and tried to give me a hand. All useless, as the water was stronger then them. For a second I thought: that’s it. I thought I was gonna die. So silly. Moment later someone pulled me towards the bank, and used all his strength to push me on the wet rocks. I dramatically clung to them. I must have looked terrified, and indeed I was. I loooove water, but I fear it a bit. My worst nightmare is to get drown.
The sound of the jungle was incredible. The noise was so intense that I expected long, sleepless night. In fact I slept like a baby. I didn’t remember any hammock to be so comfortable and and any music to be so soothing like the jungle at night.
To be continued soon…!!!