I hadn’t expected to go on any hiking treks in Colombia due to my girlfriend’s disinclination to venturing into sweaty, mosquito-ridden, trecherous jungle areas. But today—perhaps due to the 100 plus degrees of heat and excess of caffeine, or perhaps due to excess of boredom wrought by days spent sitting at a table drinking strange juices—for some reason she caved in and ventured the idea that we might go into the jungle on a 6 day strenuous hike to la Ciudad Perdida. I, of course, leapt upon the opportunity to be eaten alive by mosquitoes and we booked our trip and we set off . . . tomorrow morning!
First, a little background: the Ciudad Perdida is, as it’s name suggests, an ancient city discovered by looters and later excavated by the government and opened for visits by tourists such as myself—although it’s been an area of paramilitary activity for some time and was too dangerous to visit until very recently. It’s somewhat like the Maccu Picchu of Colombia, except much less touristy and established. It’s set deep in the jungle, so this is our time to see some real wildlife—much better than the zoo, that’s for damn sure. We’ll see how my sunscreen repels on this one. I have the feeling that I’ll get bit the shit out of no matter what I do. But I’m really excited about it, as I love the jungle, and this is a great chance to get a unique perspective on it.
My girlfriend and I just had our first terrible rip-off scam experience here in Colombia, and I am still quite angry and sickened by it. We were walking along the waterfront, where there are a lot of little restaurants and bars, looking for a place to eat. Some guy swept us in, and the dish of the day sounded alright, so down we sat, ordered some beers, and waited, for a long time, for some meat that turned out to be harder than beef jerky. Seriously, it was nearly impossible to sever, let alone chew. But like the good sports we are, we ate as much as physically possible, and then I asked for the check. One of the guys came up and told me it was 76,000 pesos. In US dollars, that’s about $38. And this is when normally you can get a huge, delicious meal anywhere for less than $6. And this is when the food was just outright bad. Obviously, this was unacceptable. I then spent the next 15 minutes using the best of my little Spanish telling them that this was unacceptable. Some other guy came into the scene, who may have been an innocent passerby, or may have been part of the scam, who tried to play the intervener. At the end, I ended up paying 30,000 pesos and walking away. I had thought to yell at a passing policeman, but at the time, the last thing I thought I needed was more confusion, and with the police here, who knows what’s gonna happen. On hindsight, that’s what I should have done. So we got fucked, basically, and we both felt sickened by it. I didn’t even think that such a thing would happen in a restaurant. A taxi, a street vendor, etc, yes, but a restaurant? So from now on, we’re going to be a lot more careful about where we eat. It just sucks when a few crooks end up putting a big dent in your perception of a place, when you know that most people are not out to get you.
Anyway, cie la vie. Off to la selva, where the worst that can happen is just being kidnapped by a rogue soldier or eaten alive by a giant insect or snake!