Day 12 – Coffee, hammock, and book through the morning, reserve Ciudad Perdida hike, walk around Santa Marta, cruise the old colonial streets, buy rum for hike, help Jamie with project/website stuff, starting to gain a bit of momentum with his project, eat an incredible dinner for 6k, get drunk with German girls, sitting around a table smoking, cracking jokes, telling stories, get woken up at 3am with a kiss on the check and a look in her eye, wake up and go hike at six am.
Days 13 : Ciudad Perdida – Part 1
The hike was over the course of four days, and we covered roughly 40 miles through the Sierras. It wasn’t technical hiking, and aside from a torrential downpour that turned a three-inch deep creek into a fifteen-foot high raging river that encroached on our campsite for the night, and my brush with a three and a half foot coral snake, there wasn’t much to worry about.
We left Santa Marta at six am, but not before hanging out street side and eating an arepa con queso and a fresh jugo de nispero. So, we walk over to Magik Tours (which was just a couple of blocks from the hostel) and climb into an old Land Cruiser. Our bigger packs reside at the hostel (locked up in Pedro’s room), and the day pack that I brought for the four-day hike contains two pairs of socks, one t-shirt and one long-sleeve button up, one light hoodie, rain jacket, one change of boxers, a pair of zip-off pants, a compass, med kit, dry bag, jungle juice bug stuff (which is 99% DEET, and makes my skin turn bright red when applied), a pair of sandals, two water bottles, and a book. I’m wearing a pair of beaten down hiking shoes, shorts, t-shirt, and a ball cap.
The land cruiser sits and waits for a bit, and a couple of people join. They’re Belgium, and, you guessed it; they’re from fucking Bruges! Crazy, I know. They’re ridiculously nice and friendly people, which, if I hadn’t encountered these types of Europeans in my past would make me suspicious of their intentions, but, instead, we just start having a conversation, and, it should go without saying at this point, they both speak impeccable English. One teaches middle school math, and has been to every continent minus Antarctica, run marathons in Malaysia, spent time in every country in South America, run triathlons and multiple ironman competitions, and, although you’d never figure him to be a badass dude, is a fucking badass. His girlfriend is a photographer, and, although sweet and a great photographer, she’s not exactly a badass like her boyfriend. On our way to the trailhead (about a forty minute drive), we talk.
We stop roadside and pick up another man. His name is Jorman, and he is our cook. Jorman wears a nice little polo, some jeans, and has his hair done. He’s holding a couple of plastic bags filled with fresh fruit. He jumps in the truck, and Jorman, Jamie, and myself start yapping like old friends. Jorman is our age; he’s got a killer smile and a good laugh.
We get to the trailhead, and meet our guide. His name is Juan Carlos, and he is a man’s man, the dude, fucking Rocky Balboa, Frank Sinatra, Muhammad Ali, and Vito Corleone combined. He is the coolest fucking guy. At one point during our hike Juan Carlos dropped this one on us (in Spanish of course), “for twenty years I farmed with coca, I hiked with coca, I worked with coca, now the people say Juan Carlos now you can hike with tourists, so now, instead of hiking through the Sierras with coca, I hike with you, children.”
Juan Carlos has an epic scar on his shoulder from a machete wound (he did not elaborate). Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself. Just know that this dude is the truth.
At the trailhead, we sit down and eat some sandwiches. There are about 20 people hanging out, milling around, and maybe eight to ten guides. There is an Israeli family of seven, a couple of Aussis, a couple Canadians, newlyweds on a honeymoon, and a few others. These people aren’t in our group. These are not our guides. Our group consists of the Brugies, Jamie, Jorman, Juan Carlos, and myself. The most important detail, that I hadn’t realized this early in the hike, was that Jorman was the cook for the entire outfit, meaning he cooked three meals a day for roughly thirty-ish people, and since we were in his group, he was always sliding us extra food and snacks. Extra snacks!
We hike four hours into the Sierras. I sweat through my shirt in the first 15 minutes. The colors of the land are exceptional – deep greens, brown, and red. Jamie and I talk with Jorman and Juan Carlos while we hike. Easy going.