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As the title suggests, I am back on U.S. soil. But, don’t fret, I am already plotting my next adventure. In Colombia, I missed an important part of the traditional tourist route–Medellin and the surrounding Coffee country. And Cali, where the purportedly best salsa dancers shake their booties every night. From there, I want to go on to Ecuador, a country I have yet to visit. Now, all I have to do is convince Kate that South America is way cooler than France.

It began early on a sunny, hot Caribbean Saturday morning. A dilapidated jeep picked me up around 9 a.m. There were nails sticking through the roof. In essence, if there was a horrific accident my head or someone else’s could have been speared by some rusty screws. Luckily, that did not happen.

Packed like proverbial sardines, the jeep carried ten of us for an hour or so until we reached a military checkpoint. The Colombian army searched all of our bags, then let us do a small photo shoot with them. After the checkpoint, the jeep rambled along a very bumpy dirt road for an hour. It was quite uncomfortable, especially since I am King Kong. Finally, the dirt road ended and we had arrived in a small village called Mamey. We dined on some ham and cheese sandwich’s and then began our long walk towards the jungle shrouded Ciudad Perdida(Lost City).

I forgot to introduce the cast! Silly me. Like I said before, there were ten of us. Here is who we were: Andres(Colombian), Nancy(Canadian), Rita(American), Costeno(Colombian), Emily(American), Jill(Canadian), Juan Pablo(Colombian), German girl(German), Emil(British), and I. Overall, I must admit we were a gregarious, cosmopolitan bunch. Only one of us did not speak serviceable Spanish.

So, back to the narrative. When we started walking, it was around 1 p.m. and the sun was hot. I began what was a daily ritual: sweating until it looked like I was dancing in the rain for hours straight. We walked for about an hour and then stopped upon a river to go swimming. We swam in a lot of rivers over those six days. It sure was refreshing each time.

Done swimming, we started the four hour hike to our first “campsite”(couldn’t properly be called a campsite, since there were flushing toilets). Most of those four hours were straight up steep, steep inclines. I, being the most out of shape of the group, had to rest 30 seconds for every 5 minutes uphill. To make this more difficult, the first day was done with no shade. The tropical sun is not pro comfort. As we walked, however, spectacular views assaulted us from every angle. The lush, jungle covered mountains were something majestic to behold. At one point, wet as the sea and huffing and puffing, I stood there looking at the great view, smiling. There is something unique about acute suffering and pleasure taking place at the same time. By unique, I mean great. By suffering, you are rewarded. So we continued.

At one point towards the end of the day, our group split into two. Six of us went to stay at one place, and the rest, including me, went somewhere else. My group was Rita, Andres, Nancy, and I. We kept on trudging up and down the path. The last hour seemed like it went on forever. Just when we thought we had reached our final destination, the guide said 10 more minutes. Apparently, 10 minutes to a guide is an hour to us. We finally arrived.

For dinner, we had a heaping portion of rice and chicken. It was good, and I suggested to our cook, miguel, that he open up a five start restaurant. It gets dark early near the equator. Without electricity, and being exhausted from the walking, we went to sleep early. At 7 or 8 I guess. Alas, sleep did not come that easy! For the whole trip, except for one night, we slept in hammocks. The hammocks were outside, but under a roof. Hammocks are not made for sleeping! There should be a warning on them that says: Use only for brief relaxation. It is impossible to get into a comfortable sleeping position in a hammock. Moreover, your body heat leaks out of the bottom of the hammock, so at about 3 or 4 every morning I would wake up cold and shivering. Due to this uncomfortable sleeping arrangement, the next day I woke up–to dogs barking–at about dawn to begin another adventurous day.

To be continued tomorrow.

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