Though I mentioned I would in a previous post, I didn’t visit the La Ciudad Perdida, the Lost City. Now I write to explain my reasons for missing what is without a doubt an unforgettable experience, because I don’t like to say one thing and do another, but also to share photos of the lesser known, free indigenous village El Pueblito that I hiked through when leaving Tyrona National Park.
Money: A six day trek through the jungle to the Lost City’s cloud-covered ruins costs US $230—the equivalent of more than a month’s travel expenses in Bolivia. This price includes the monthly fee tour agencies must pay the Paramilitaries, a sort of mafia quota to enter their territory. In turn, the Paramilitaries use this money—along with their kidnapping ransom and cocaine earnings—to wage war against the guerrillas. The backstory is quite complicated. About a month ago the Paramilitaries killed a guide who worked for a tour company that out of principal refused to pay. (The tourists were unharmed). Besides the fact I was ultimately unwilling to splurge the equivalent of one month’s worth of later travel, something clicked inside of me, making me recognize the horrible situation I’d be fueling. I didn’t want to pay into this corrupt system of bribes and brutality where innocent guides are murdered to make a point.
Time: I must be in Quito, Ecuador by September 3rd to meet up with a friend. As of today, I have an estimated two weeks on bike until the Ecuador border. These are pure, sweaty pedal days and do not include stops. If I’m to take a photography class and learn some basic yoga while in Colombia, I needed to ride to a city (still deciding between Bogota or Medellin) that offers courses instead of trek through forests.
Below are photos of El Pueblito, within Tayrona National Park just outside Santa Marta. It’s a place that stirs the imagination and, much like I heard about the Lost City, the hike is as spectacular as the arriving.