Although it was a little fuzzy around the edges, one aspect of the vision was clear.
A canvas hammock swaying, back and forth, back and forth.
Me in this hammock swaying, back and forth, back and forth.
In my vision, a smile on my face – I’d finally found it.
In the grimy, boisterous Bogota reality, a smile on my face – I’ll find it.
I was going to Tayrona. Going there, come hell or high water. Oh, my prophetic soul…
I jumped off the little bus from Santa Marta, smiled at my representative of that noble breed of Colombian bus conductors – sharp minds, sharp tongues, but generally good guys. His girlfriend, in the front passenger seat, continued to ignore him as they steamed off further up the hill. Relief: all the way from Santa Marta, I had been worried that I’d got on the wrong bus, that I’d miss the park entrance, that I’d end up somewhere unknown. That would’ve sucked, but I shouldn’t have worried – it’s fairly obvious where Tayrona meets the outside world. Armed with my mozzie-repellant soap, croissants, pineapple jam (why does this not exist in Australia?) and rather vague directions from one of the more popular travel guides, I strode excitedly to the entrance, somehow worked out what the guy at the gate was saying, paid out my hard-earned, and made my way into the fuzzy edges of my Bogota vision. Hammock: I’ll be swaying in you before you know it.
Come hell or high-water. I flippantly ignored the invitation of a mini-van to convey me to the centre of my vision, and made my way down the tarmac already warm on my thankful feet. I walked in an awed silence, gazing out at the rich green that was everywhere.
Then it started to rain. No problem; a little rain’s not going to stop this little parade of mine.
A bit heavier; but I saw a sandy path. My hammock waiting – here I come, Don Pedro Camping!
Hell and high water. A real, honest-to-Hammock, tropical storm. I hope I find that elusive Pedro soon.
Twenty minutes into this deluge, now thoroughly drenched, lost, and demoralised, I realised I’d need to go back to the road and seek help. My (not particularly) helpful guidebook was now twice the size it started out to be.
Making it back to the road, I sought shelter from the storm at the nearest house. Stout Alejandro proved to be some kind of moustachioed angel; giving me a towel to dry off with, plastic bags for my sodden belongings, and even telling me, slowly, calmly and loudly, to sleep at his and his wife’s little shack until the morning. I politely declined this slightly embarrasingly generous offer, as I felt like I’d already hassled him enough, gushed him torrents of thanks, and headed back out into that other torrent. I hailed down a passing van, whose driver compassionately picked me up, and drove me to the Ecohabs at Canaveral. He refused my offers of payment, but I finally managed to press a bill in his hand, and he headed back to where he was going in the first place.
Still raining, and with my hammock vision getting dimmer by the minute, I asked a nearby, drenched American where Don Pedro’s was. He directed me down a path, and said it would take about an hour; 45 minutes if I walked quickly. By this stage, I was determined to do it in half an hour – and, slipping and sliding in what I pretended was just pungent, tropical mud, I pretty much made it in that record time.
Not knowing if I’d made it to the centre of my vision, I was relieved to find Don Pedro central – a couple of buildings, restaurant, and TV playing Naruto incessantly – along with a rather suprised host, who ushered me out of the rain and desperation, and in under the sheltered, warm atmosphere he and his mates generated. Come hell or high water, I’d actually made it.
As if on cue, the rain stopped, but, more importantly, there was my vision in all its glory – back and forth it swung, and I jumped gratefully, joyously, into it. It was all worth it, after all. I sung to my hammock: “things can only get better, now that I’ve found you.”
Those words from an old cheesy pop-song would prove to be prophetic. The next day sweltered from 8 in the morning, and after eating my pineapple croissant, I raced to the nearest beach, and jumped into the bathwarm Caribbean, the now-friendly jungle at my back. Much better than the fuzziness of my vision, Tayrona, after an enthusiastic baptism, welcomed me into its beautifully warm arms, and I was happy enough to accept, and started swinging – back and forth, back and forth.