Santa Marta - Tayrona National Park

Day 43

We took a bus from Santa Marta towards the Tayrona National Park and were dropped off at our hostel called Mama Tayrona, which is just on the edge of the park itself. We were shown to our dormitory which had amazing views over the jungle, and then we went for a walk down to the nearby river with the hostel owner and 3 hostel dogs called Dr Socks, Belle and one we didn’t know the name of but called ‘Wimpy’ on account of his fear of the water. This motley (muttley?!) crew escorted us up the river and back again, and later we indulged in some cocktails (the jungle had a surprisingly good bar and impressive cocktail list!) and chatted to fellow travellers, as is customary in hostels!

Day 44

Woke early as the sun was coming up over the top of the surrounding hills, and the birds were making a racket about it. We planned to head into the park, walking from the entrance near the hostel to the beaches, then out through a different entrance to make a circular walk - it sounded like a great plan and started well but turned into a bit of a nightmare. For one, we were stupid enough not to check the cost of entering the park and found it to be much more expensive than we thought, leaving us with no cash at all. We decided this was OK because we had plenty of water and snacks with us, and we vaguely hoped the beach restaurants would accept card, and we couldn't be bothered to go back for more money! So we headed up and walked for around 3.5hrs, up a massive hill and down again in the blazing sun - we were so excited to finally spot the sea and feel a breeze! The first beach was beautiful and deserted, except for one other couple who, by their attire, indicated to us that this was a nudist beach, and we moved swiftly on. At the next beach we caught up with another couple from our hostel who had inadvertently brought a hostel dog (Wimpy) with them (he had followed them all the way to the beach, and was looking very lost). When the dog noticed we were moving on to he decided to follow us instead, so now we had a dog. We walked along the next few beaches and stopped on the busiest one with a restaurant - we were dying for a cold drink but they didn't accept card so we had to start rationing our supplies, and now we had to find water for the dog too! Plus this dog was attacked by a bigger dog on the beach who actually bit him and drew blood which we felt terrible about and had to quickly move on. We managed to fill a bottle with tap water for free - its not advisable to drink for humans but we could at least keep the dog hydrated, using a half coconut shell as a dog bowl! So we start on the trail which leads out of the park to a different entrance, which is about a 2hr walk along the coast. When we reached the entrance we realised we had to get a minibus to the main road, but we didn't have the money and anyway they wouldn't let the dog on! So we had to walk another 5km to the main road, meanwhile it started raining heavily, then whilst on the road our dog started having some sort of seizure - he lost control of his limbs and was writhing around violently, he had this awful panicked look on his face and we were convinced he'd been stung or bitten, or eaten something poisonous (he had just been running around in the jungle next to the road where we couldn't see what he was up to). All we could do was stand and watch, it was awful, I was in tears (of course!), imagining we'd have to carry a dead dog all the way back to the hostel, then this man appeared on a horse and stood over us all, and was calmly speaking to us in Spanish - we didn't understand what he was saying, but we now believe he was telling us it would be OK, because sure enough the dog slowly stopped fitting and regained his balance, and then was standing looking up at us, wagging his tail like nothing had happened! We've decided the horse man was a Shaman, although the moment was ruined slightly when he answered his mobile phone. We continued on in the rain, trying to find somewhere to we could buy a drink with card (also trying to fill up a water bottle with rain, which wasn't working!) - one place said their card machine was not working because of the rain (!) but did refill our bottles for free with their filtered water, which was such a relief. We finally made it to the main road, where we tried to rest in a cafe but the cafe dog chased our dog away so we had to leave again! We didn't know how we were going to get back to the hostel with the dog - it was on the same road but really far down it (another 10km!) most people take another bus at this point but we knew they wouldn't allow dogs. The locals told us the only option was to take two mototaxis (they are just men on motorbikes and you sit behind them! They do have spare helmets at least), and someone would have the dog on their lap! So Chris took the dog on his lap, who was really good and didn't make a fuss at all, and the mototaxi men allowed us to run inside to get money for them when we got back - we were so relieved to finally be home 9hrs after leaving! The owner thanked us for returning his dog, and when we mentioned the fitting he said 'Oh yeah, he does that sometimes', so we guess maybe he's epileptic?! Lesson learned to always take extra cash and try to avoid taking responsibility for epileptic dogs!

Day 45

After our eventful day yesterday we decided to have a chilled day by the pool. After 6 weeks of travelling my hair was starting to get to the point of needing a cut and the heat was so searing that I needed it short. I convinced Jess to take my clippers to my barnet, I wanted a grade 4 all over - not so short that I look like Andy or Tim (after my years of abuse towards them for being bald I wasn’t keen for payback) but short enough to have a cool head.

Jess reluctantly and nervously took to the task, doing a brilliant job. She got it to a perfect length and with the confidence of Ahmed from my Savvi Barber, Streatham, took to the task of neatening up some stray hairs. Then came the scream and waterworks….

Jess had accidently adjusted the clipper from a grade 4 to a grade 1 (very easily done with the all in one clipper I have). Two huge streaks of baldness left Jess cursing that she never wanted to cut my hair in the first place and it was all my fault. There was only one thing for it, bald all over!

You guys be the judge but I like it, minimum maintenance and it’s fun to stroke.

After a quick photoshoot in the pool we headed to Santa Marta town to be ready for our 6am flight in the morning. We had a walk down by the beach and ate some delicious BBQ’d street chicken!

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