My trip is finally winding down, but not without ending with some good things. I ended up finishing my Scuba course on Wednesday after 3 days of diving. I loved the diving, but I must admit that after 3 days, I was tired. With all of the equipment you need, it`s a bit complicated. By the time you check all the equipment, put it on, and check it again a lot of time has already gone by and you`ve used a lot of energy. But when you are under the water, you forget about all of that and enjoy it all. I didn`t realize it until afterwards, but we were under water for about 50 minutes each dive. It really seems like 20 or 30 minutes, so I was quite surprised. The dives were always incredible, especially the last few days. We went through all of the skills early on, so in the end we`d practice a few skills and then the rest is a fun dive, just swimming around and enjoying it.
We saw plenty of cool fish and other animals. We saw barracudas, eels, trumpet fish, and several other types that I don`t know the names of. During one dive, the instructor found a dead fish on the bottom (the type of fish that is most commonly fished in the area), so he grabbed it, pulled out his knife, cut it into two pieces, and then ended up feeding it to an eel. Pretty surreal to see this all happen, but entertaining as well.
Finally, I took the written tests on Wednesday afternoon and passed, so I am now PADI certified. I am definitely glad I did this, as I was curious to how Scuba diving was. I will be doing it more in the future for sure.
So on Thursday morning, I took off from Taganga and headed to Tayrona National Park, about 45 minutes east of Taganga. Expensive to get in ($20) and expensive to stay ($12 to sleep in a hammock), but well worth it.
I hiked about 2 hours from the entrance to Cabo San Juan, with the route winding along nice beaches on the coast. These are the beaches you think of when you think of the Caribbean (Taganga and Santa Marta don`t have these). Crystal clear water, calm, sandy beaches. Along the way, I met a guy from the Netherlands, a girl from France, and a guy from Norway, and I ended up staying with them most of the trip. The place we stayed must be earning a lot, since they can charge $12 per hammock per night. Plus, they were cramped with not too much space in between. It would`ve been okay, but the mosquitos were horrible. I didn`t know this so I didn`t have repelent, so I counted over 100 mosquito bites on my body. Only got a few hours of sleep because of these guys annoying me.
I just stayed the one night, and early in the morning I walked over to other beaches. Along the way, I was walking in a bit of the jungle, and surprisingly I saw an animal running away from me on the ground. Trying to figure out what it was, there was then a lot of noise coming from above too, a monkey shaking branches trying to scare me off. I think they were as surprised as I was. I waited there watching them for a few minutes as they swung off.
Afterwards, I just hung out at these beaches all day taking in the 90 degree weather and the sun. Then I walked back and caught a bus back to Santa Marta. On Saturday morning, I got a plane to Bogota.
I arrived in Bogota and went directly to the house of the Couchsurfer who I am staying with. It`s pretty cool because I met her in Cusco at a Couchsurfing event when she was traveling, about 6 months ago. It worked out that I could stay with her here, which is cool. And she is planning to go San Francisco for 6 months this year to study English, so I am hoping to meet up with her after I finish my bike ride. Small world.
I am a bit disappointed by Bogota. It`s one of the ugliest cities I have seen, and doesn`t have too much of a particular interest for me. But still, I have had a good time with the people here.
So in 2 days my trip is coming to an end. I have mixed feelings about it. This trip has been incredible, but I am extremely excited to see everyone at home again. Luckily I have my bike ride to get ready for. If I was going back to work right away, it`d be very difficult to come back!