January 12, 2010

Guest Post - SURVIVOR Ciudad Perdida: 1 Guide, 3 Porters, 16 Tribemates...Who will make it?

Hi friends!
Well we made it! After 6 days and 5 nights, we have returned from the jungle alive, well and with significantly toned calf muscles. For all the nerves of wondering if we would be able to do this and survive, we actually kind of rocked together... :) I will provide more thoughts later, but for now, here is Allison's step-by-step account of our jungle excursion to the lost city!
Enjoy!

Have you ever seen the show Survivor on CBS? Ever wondered who in their right mind would think it's a good idea to go to a desolate place on earth and then have minimal resources necessary for suvival with a group of complete strangers for six days? Well apparently those types of questions never occurred to us when we signed up for our hike to the Lost City (Ciudad Perdida).
Day 1
7am: Allison conveniently wakes up with a swollen left eye/face from a bug bite that gives the appearance of a black eye...great for creating stories of fighting off guerillas, not so great when we are about to embark in the jungle as far away as humanly possible from medical help. Shoot.
8am: Get to the check-in office and discover they have over booked our trip from a maximum of 10 people to 16. In total Colombian fashion, we aimlessly wait around for two hours before they decide we should pack up and leave. Kristin locates an extra car that they tracked down since 16 people will not fit into two jeeps and off we go!
12pm: Arrive at a small tienda at the base of the mountains...the four of us in the car are directed to motorcycles which we will ride on for 30 minutes up to the start of the jungle. Motorcycle rides on narrow dirt road on top of mountains in Colombia = gorgeous, exhilirating, and much more comfortable than a hot jeep packed like sardines with soon-to-be jungle victims.
2pm: After lunch we embark from the village of El Mamey to actually begin to hike! All smiles!
3pm: Locate our first river pool with lovely cliff to jump off to enjoy a refreshing swim. What the guides fail to tell you is that this is the last time you will be happy and excited about the hike. They officially have all of us thinking this is going to be a fun relaxing stroll through the woods.
4pm: Haul ass up our first mountain. Dripping in sweat we are now on top of clouds where they give us a piece of watermelon at which Kristin declares, "This is the best watermelon I have ever had in my entire life!!!".

6pm: Arrive at camp to scope out the hammock sleeping situation and take our first of many river baths. Still under the false impression that one may be able to sorta keep up with hygiene in the jungle.
Day 2
7am: Rise and shine- oh wait, we're already awake because we have been freezing to death in our damp hammocks all night and have been passing the time by praying for sun and warmth. Until then, our porters have made coffee and hot chocolate to sustain us. Thank God.
9am: Hike through mountain farmland in scorching sun. Repeated fruit breaks of oranges and pinapple provide the perfect "pick me up" throughout the day. Must find the balance of stopping long enough to eat the fruit without letting the mosquitoes attack in full force. Apparently the fruit breaks are why we needed yellow fever shots.

3pm: Arrive at camp and immediately locate a fantastic swimming location to wash clothes in the river and attempt to freshen ourselves up. What a joke.
8pm: Bonding with the tribalmates at the candle lit tables. Play the "Who Am I?" game where you can only ask yes or no questions to get clues as to the name of person you are wearing on your forehead...discover from our tribalmates coming from other countries that people such as Bono are perhaps not as worldwide as we thought. Apparently learning happens both on and off the trail. Crazy Germans.
Day 3
7am: Begin the day with jumping jacks, yoga, and awkward hopping around all in attempts to not freeze to death in our wet clothes that we have to put on to hike in. Remind ourselves that we must conserve our only dry outfit to stay warm at night and that as soon we start hiking we will be sweating profusely.....
8am: Did we say hiking? Perhaps we should clarify with rock climbing. Although not listed as a prerequisite when registering for the hike, it becomes a huge part of our day when we start off scaling gigantic rocks without the safety of ropes or craftfully designed grooves to put your hands in. Even been to REI for rock climbing....yeah it's a whole lot different when there's a raging river below you instead of a rubber floor and no victory bell to ring at the top. I guess surviving is the victory replacing the bell ringing.
11am: Another mountain climb...huff and puff and sweat all the way to the top. The panoramic views of the jungle are indescribale, but quickly interrupted by the sounds of a mule panting and struggling as it reaches the summit. Jumping off the top of said mule is a middle aged woman who resembles an evil high school librarian in both looks and demeanor. While the rest of our 16 group tribe nurses our aching muscles and wipes beads of sweat from our face, Mule Lady loudly proclaims that her knees are sore from riding a mule up the mountain that we just hiked up. Really Mule Lady, you must be joking?
1pm: The start of 9 river crossings in one day. Becoming somewhat savy hikers by this point, we both make it without falling once!
4pm: Arrive at the base of the 12oo steps that we will climb to the Lost City. Interestingly enough, the first set of steps are approximately 3 feet high each and covered with wet slippery moss. Hmm...at this point we can only pray that it gets better.
4:30pm: Still climbing up stairs...playing a Spanglish version of categories with our guide and two friends from England. Word from camp is that Mule Lady was seen crawling up the steps by #50. Bahahahaha.
5ish - 6ish - who knows: We make it!!!! Somewhat delirious, seriously dehydrated, and definitely devoid of all energy we pretty much stumble our way into camp.
8pm: After dinner we get the best sleeping accomodations of the trip- 8 twin sized mattresses that have been joined together to sleep 11 adults. This large bed even features a single, gigantic mosquito net so that it not only keeps out unwanted pests, but gives the bed the appearance of fort that you built when you were si years old. Cool; sorta. Everyone spoons in a gigantic mass of smelly and exhausted hikers and we're sound asleep by 8:30.
Day 4
6am: Do fried tuna empanadas sound good to you for breakfast before another long day of hiking?
9am: Tour the terraces of the Lost City with tribalmates. Turns out that lugging the backpacks around for 3 days to get here may have actually been worth it. Proceed to take many pictures where upon we literally jumped for joy at our accomplishments!




10am: Come across a pool in the river that the Tayrona people use as a wishing well. Walking back from the river Kristin asks Allison, "What did you wish for?" and she replies, "A helicopter to get me out of here asap." Clearly this day was starting off on a rough note.
12pm: Finish re-crossing all the rivers we crossed the previous day. At the bank of the last river is a mule patiently waiting to carry the almighty Mule Lady all the way back to Santa Marta.
4pm: Walking solo in the jungle one begins to question whether or not this is really the original path we took to arrive in Ciudad Perdida? Did we really walk for this long on the way here?
8pm: Turns out that making friends with the porters has the added benefit of being served coffee in your hammock. Kristin rocked this one.
Day 5
8am: A group of us take off for the trail and hike for less than 5 minutes before we get confused in a rocky ravine, somehow navigate off the trail, and have the be herded back by our porter to the actual trail even though it's not really visible to the human eye.
10am: Last big mountain climb of the trip! THANK GOD! It's much harder this time around because we had previously hiked down the mountain and knew what we were getting into.
3pm: We're at camp and ready to celebrate our last night together. It's gotta be happy hour somewhere so our fellow tribalmates take turns going to the tienda and stocking up on beers and Ron Viejo de Caldas rum.
6pm: At dinner, following the creation of a beer pyramid, our guide, Omar, announces that he has arranged for a mule to carry our backpacks (commonly referred to as our small children), because at the rate we are drinking, he doesn't think we are going to do so hot tomorrow.
8pm: The whole tribe, including our guide and porters, is off to the the makeshift bar. Whoops, Allison fell in the river on the way over.....and oh, what's that? Oh it's Kristin, salsa dancing with Wilson, the lone Colombiano in the group who is sporting his sweater inside out in an apparent attempt to revolutionize fashion in the jungle.
12am?? Navigate with tribalmates back to camp and into hammocks. Give a friendly shout out to Mule Lady who is stationed at the camp next to us.
Day 6
6am: Despite the late night, we still wake up with the sunrise since we are sleeping outside.
7am: Our Colombiano friend Wilson wakes up and decides to hand out shots of rum with breakfast to help us all get going on the last day.
9am: Depart for the only uphill of the day. Congratulate ourselves for only stopping 2x on the way up!!! Somehow we're improving at this whole fitness thing.
11am: Last downhill so we decided there's no better way to go down than a mountain than by running. On tiptoes, we sprint down in a zig-zag pattern that goes easy on the knees and allows one to have hope that if they trip, they will fall sideways and not careen face first down a mountain without stopping.
12pm: Return to the first pool we swam in on day 1. Jump right off the same cliff and joyfully celebrate the near completion of our hike!!!
1pm: Arrive to base camp and pose for one final round of sweaty faced pictures. Frolic around with tribalmates and make plans to immediately reunite with our new found friends for dinner that night in Santa Marta!

Allison

1 comment:

Kevin said...

great post Allison. sounds like you both had "fun". Keep up the posts K, always fun to read about your adventures.

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