From the moment we fell off our horses on arrival at Tayrona, Lynn’s mantra had been, “I will not get back on a horse. I will not ride a horse back to the parking lot.”
She was also sure that, if we walked, we would never find our way—a reasonable assumption given our track record. We had been told there was an “easy” walking path back to the parking lot. Hmm. Easy enough to pull roller bags for an hour?
After breakfast, Lynn approached the young man at reception and informed him that we wanted to send our bags back by horse, and that we would like a guide to walk with us to the parking lot. He smiled as one would smile at a small child who has said something cute but dumb.
“There is no need for a guide. The path is so easy,” he said slowly, as if English was our second language.
Lynn protested and began to insist, and I wandered off. I can’t bear conflict if it seems low stakes to me. I was willing to try the path. It couldn’t possibly be like the one to the Cabo the day before. Right?
And it wasn’t. In the end, the young man wore Lynn down and we walked by ourselves. I’m so glad we did, otherwise I would have felt bad making a guide stop every two minutes while I took photos of the magnificent sea views.
I saw some strange tracks in the sand. Snakes? Crabs? No, turtles!
We didn’t see any turtles but it would be fun to be here when the hatchlings emerge.
The path really was flat and easy at the beginning. “Capybara!” I shouted as one ran through this tunnel of hedge. I was so glad Lynn got a glimpse of one.
This spectacular beach had, literally, a red flag.
And here is why—it’s a killer beach where more than 100 people have drowned.
Signs often tell you where a destination’s visitors are from. This one is in Spanish, Italian, English, German, French, and Hebrew. The English isn’t a great indicator because most travelers will speak some travel English. I know Israelis get around, but Colombia? It’s such a long way for them. Maybe that’s the point. I wondered why there was no Portuguese translation.
We passed one untamed, unpopulated beach after another. “In five years,” I commented, “I bet you will see throngs of people here, at least at the safer ones.”
The path began to climb, but there were stairs and handrails. Why hadn’t we been directed to this option coming in? Maybe we had. Who knows? It would have made for such a more pleasant first impression.
I was smitten with these huts in the distance. It turned out that a former colleague would stay here in two weeks’ time and they were more “luxury huts.”
There were plenty of signs on this path. I found it amusing they were addressed to “Mr. Visitor.”
Farther on, someone had carved in a correction to make it “Dear Visitor.”
There was some fairly steep climbing up and down stairs and roller bags would have been out of the question, so sending them via horseback had been a good compromise.
After an hour we descended onto a flat board walk which led to the parking lot. We stopped to read the signs about the animals we had never seen.
“Crax Alberti. Hmmm. I wonder who that was named for?” I commented. “I wonder how many birds and animals and plants were named for Prince Albert during Victoria’s reign.”
“Oh, hundreds, I should think,” replied Lynn, reading the next sign.
“Saguinus Oedipus. Smart mother fucker,” Lynn pronounced. Lynn is rarely crude so this caught me off guard and I laughed as we walked on.
At 9am sharp, we emerged to meet our driver from three days before, waiting with our bags loaded into his truck.
“How was it? Did you enjoy Tayrona?” he asked in Spanish, and I told him we had loved it. I didn’t mention the horseback ride or the fire ants or cockroaches or the heat stroke.
We settled into silence for the five-hour drive to Cartagena.