Tag Archives: beach

Colombia Diary Entry

14th August 2014 – Tayrona, Colombia

Cabo San Juan Beach

The thin page of my notebook is flapping in the breeze. It feels flimsy to write on, almost wet, warm and muggy from the damp humidity. Something stings on my ankle, and a hand slaps down to catch it, brushing sand loose. My hair is coarse and wet with the sea, pulled into an unyielding bun at the nape of my neck. The waves crash in front of me, just white lines of foam looming out of the dark.

Cartagena

I am writing this on the ledge of the sandy patio, sitting in the pool of bright white light that spills from one lone lightbulb above the tienda. Three Colombian men are leaning against the blue concrete walls, bellies exposed, speaking in lazy Spanish. I miss most of it, only picking up the odd ‘amigo’ and ‘hija de puta’.

Hamacas

We are in Tayrona National Park, camping in hammocks in the Colombian jungle, and I keep having to remind myself that the salt water dried in my hair belongs to the Caribbean. I am sitting under a palm tree, and the dark nook that connects my ledge to the wooden steps beside me makes me think of tarantulas and iguanas, red ants and other toe-curling creatures. The wind is picking up now, and the chatter from the open restaurant behind me dies down.

Colombian Flag

Tonight we ate a cobbled together camping dinner of boiled eggs, canned tuna, candy and peanuts. The ‘pan caliente’ here is delicious, ham and cheese for just $3,000 pesos, the equivalent of about $2.10 NZD. We buy cans of beer and drink them on the beach for $4,000 pesos. Those are a little more expensive. We hiked in today, catching a five hour bus from Cartagena at 5am. We stopped at a bus station and watched as the sun rose over a hazy sky, casting a milky morning glow over the bus drivers as they sipped their cafe tintos in the derelict carpark.

Cartagena Flag

My Spanish is incredibly rusty, and the Colombian costeños speak with a slow mumble that I find unbelievably hard to decipher. But each day it improves, and we add another phrase to the repertoire, another way to sound a little less gringo. We’ll sleep in hammocks tonight. We snagged the last two somehow, just bright stretches of fabric slung beneath a thatched island roof of palm leaves. It seems surreal that just a few days ago we were waking up to 3°C, our breath misting in the freezing temperatures inside our bedroom, and de-icing our windscreens before driving to work.

Jungle Trek

Tomorrow we plan to hike up to El Pueblito, some ruins about three hours up a nearby hill. Afterwards we will lie on the beach and swim in the warm soft water, drinking those cold lemony beers and reading books from faraway places on our Kindles.

Tayrona was definitely worth the hike.

Sunset Over the Beach

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underwater baby

I love photos taken from half in, half out of the water. That in between world where nobody knows what to breathe in and the laws of gravity are turned upside down. I have always been a water baby. As a child I spent more of the summer in the water than out. My sister Grace and I would spend entire days in the pool, from sun up to long past sun down. Only when our mother enforced it would we finally get out of the water, only to quickly wolf our lunch down standing up, dripping all over the balcony. Then, when the last crumb was licked from the sandwich, we would hurl ourselves back into the blue water, delighting in the feel of its cool wetness swallowing at our skin to welcome us back.

It was another world down there, one that I loved, one I felt so at home in. I know every curve and dip of that pool as well as I know my own body. It amazes me now how small it is, how I can stand up in every part, even the deepest point.

We used to practice holding our breath, lying weightless just beneath the surface. That feeling is one of my favourite in the world. It is as though all sound is gone, quiet, yet somehow amplified, reverberating through the metres of dense, clear weight. I can hear my thoughts under there, hear my lungs steadily holding on to their last breath.

The beach is somewhat the same, although the water is more alive. There, when I lie breathlessly beneath the surface my body moves with the ocean, the swell undulating with me. I float easily in the salt, and the waves are white as they break, rolling just above me.

When I come up for breath I break through the barrier with a crash, and all the noise comes flooding in. Seagulls and the surf, sounds of people calling to each other batter my ears, the blinding sun squints my eyes. I take a salty gulp of air, enough to last me a few more moments, and dive back under. Everything is cut off once more. The world is green and mottled down here, compared to the blinding blue of the world above. The sunlight is dappled, falling through the ever-moving water to reach the sand below. It is two metres of paradise, gravity free and clear, the edges of sight blurring into a blue green haze. I lift my eyes and look through the water, up to the sky outside. There is a foot or so of sea between my face and the surface, the light shimmers and reflects down, tricking my vision, so that I can’t quite see what lies up there.

That layer divides these two worlds, one where everything is touched, in tune, completely immersed in something so much denser than air or wind. The other, all is dry and separate, where things exist in complete solitude. Every part of my body is touched by the water, every hair on my head surrounded by its unwavering wet. I wish to stay down here, but my traitorous lungs lift me up every time, the thin bones of my ribcage and the meagre weight of my body not enough to separate the air within them from uniting back with its great body above.

I must be content, grateful for those short visits to that other world underneath, hidden under the innocently still barrier of the vast surface.