Friday, 5 August 2011

The Last (Blog) Post...

After our epic trek to the Ciudad Perdida, Ania and I headed back to the wonderful Casa de Felipe in Taganga to rest up for a few days. Many of our group were still staying in the hostel and those who weren't turned up most nights to eat the tasty food from Patrick the Dutch chef's kitchen, based at Casa de Felipe! During the last week we went diving once more with Aquantis, doing two boat dives one morning. Once again we loved it! We saw great wildlife including more lion fish and moray eels. The highlight was probably an octopus that we scared a little, resulting in it inking itself and swimming off very fast! Hadn't seen that before! We also enjoyed our dives because it was just the two of us in a group with a very nice dive leader from Australia called Shanna. And once again we got more great photos of us underwater.

Caption competition? Ania and I experience some underwater communication problems!

After a few pleasant days relaxing we said goodbye to Casa de Felipe and took a bus to Palomino, where we'd booked a treat of a resort for the final week of our ten-month trip! Our destination was Tuci's Place, also known by the names Donde Tuci and El Matuy. After a very interesting but actually very enjoyable bus ride, we arrived! We caught a local bus and were amongst only four tourists on board. The bus had a conductor as well as a driver and the vehicle seemed to be operating not only as a bus but also as a courier service. People would load on enormous sacks of onions or cardboard boxes full of produce which the conductor would then deliver at people's homes or restaurants and cafes along the way! They were very friendly too and helped us with our bags. And as for El Matuy, I cannot recommend this place highly enough! We spent seven very happy nights in this wooden, palm-thatched cabin, seconds from the beach:

We were surrounded by palm trees and spent our time cooling off in the sea, eating the delicious food (included in the price - more on that later!) and lazing in our hammocks with our books. Here's the view from our cabin veranda:

A nice view for lunch:

I LOVED the food in Colombia. I couldn't say what the grub is like in other parts of the country as we only spent time on the Caribbean coast. We quickly discovered that lunch is the best meal of the day at El Matuy. That's nothing against what they served for breakfast or dinner, we just really liked the lunch! The picture below is fairly typical fare and makes my mouth water! Smoked fish, coconut rice (made using the copious coconuts hanging everywhere above us), salad with mango, fried plantain and beans for Ania! Delicious!

And to drink? Amazing fruit juices of course! We liked the mora (like a mulberry, a cross between a blackberry and raspberry), the maracuya (passion fruit) and their home-made lemonade. Here's the owner of El Matuy, Ernesto, who would also cut us open a coconut if we wanted something to drink and to snack on:

A happy woman with an enormous coconut:

Our evening hangout spot! There's no electricity at the resort, so we'd sit on these beanbags next to the dining area, chatting with our fellow travellers by the light of candle lanterns and oil lamps! Very romantic with the stars above us too!

The beach was great too with some lovely soft sand and we spent a lot of time lying on bean bags on the beach, reading and then jumping in the sea to cool off. There were some pretty rough waves so we enjoyed the challenge of getting past them and then riding them back in to shore. A couple of times we turned right at the beach and walked along the beach, where you can swim in a river that flows into the sea, just in case you fancy a change from salt water. The scenery was beautiful and the area is so secluded that you don't see many people. After so long travelling and roughing it in places, this was bliss!

The one proper 'activity' we did during the week was tubing or black water rafting. We had a go at this in New Zealand but this was far more relaxing! Ania and I set off with a lovely Canadian couple we met called Neil and Moira. First, four 'moto-taxis' turned up (that's a motorbike, you sit on the back!). We collected our tubes, like a big inflatable donut and then got back on our moto-taxis (yes, with the tubes!) and met our guide, a very friendly seventeen year old Colombian boy. After a short but tricky, up-and-down-hills walk we came to the Rio Palomino. We sat in our tubes and gently floated downstream for just under an hour! The water was very shallow in places, I'm talking shin-deep, but it was very enjoyable and the whole thing including our moto-taxis only cost about £10! Well worth it.

We saw some amazing sunsets in Palomino, too. Here's a few shots below. They don't really do it justice, but it does give you an idea!

I started this post by referring to an epic journey, and I'll end it in the same way! On 28th July we set off on what would become a 28-hour journey that would take us from El Matuy in Palomino to Ania's aunt and uncle's house in London! A bus, a taxi, three flights and three delayed pieces of luggage later (never fly with Iberia if you can avoid it. Both of our flights with them were delayed and we arrived in London with only the clothes on our backs and our hand luggage while our backpacks continued the trip in Madrid) we arrived at Heathrow, where Penny and John picked us up! They dropped us off too, so there's a nice symmetry there!

We will follow up with some extra 'bonus posts', but here concludes the diary entries of Ania and Stu's Big Trip. Thanks for reading as always, everyone. Stu over and out.