Another day and another feat overcome in the life of an injured backpacker. Having traipsed around a couple of tour agencies in Cusco with my long suffering travel companion, I can confirm that you cannot do the entirety of the Macchu Picchu trek on a donkey. The results are in and you will need to be able to walk at the least along a train track for three hours.
After the comfort and tranquility of Colombian coaches, Ecuadorian buses and vendors were a bit of a shock to the system. The sheer quantity of food/drink/ice cream sellers boarding was absurd… I think I increased in weight on Ecuadorian buses alone. Further advice includes: don’t expect air-con or wifi and empty your bowels before departure..lest you wish to have a hasty toilet break at some remote stop, sweating and stressing about an imminent bus departure without you on board. 🙈
My border crossings were thankfully without drama and so this post is more for informative use rather than jovial entertainment. Although, as ever, feel free to be entertained.
A day’s rest in Santa Marta (thank you Santa Marta) and we were off to the neighbouring town of Minca. A slightly less trodden path, no doubt about to be overwhelmed by the increasing tourist flow, Minca retains the authenticity, charm and familiarity that for me, Cartagena lacked.
The four of us worked through the remaining list of tourist destinations in Cartagena, hitting the local market Bazurato, el Convento de Popa (highest point in the city) and Bocagrande. Our taxi driver was a legend, taking us to all these places at a fifth of the guide book price before dropping us at the overrated Bocagrande – a true tourist destination, full of ugly high-rises and a large, crowded beach. The highlight of the whole day was realising a 6ft6 pale Irish man provides the perfect distraction for the usual local attention a gringa can experience. ☺️
An archipelago, 100km off the coast from Cartagena, The Rosario Islands are one of Colombia’s 46 Natural National Parks. We were heading to the largest, Isla Grande, and it was amazing to finally get on the water after the unwavering humidity almost dripping off the walls of the old city…
On my own for the first time in a while, I landed in Cartagena to discover the Pope had had the same idea. A week long tour around Colombia and here was his last stop. It was a bit chaotic and the entire country hadn’t been selling alcohol there for the duration of his trip but I battled my way through the crowds, sober, all the same for a glimpse at the top of his head. A bucket list box I didn’t know I had, ticked off!
New York, you have another notch on your belt. Never before has a snap decision felt so good! The plane landed, security was a breeze and it was late but I felt so self-assured that I hopped on the subway. Each neighbourhood flashed passed my eyes as the heat washed over me, it felt so strange to be foreign in an English speaking country and the jet lag was slowly hitting me but I couldn’t wait to explore.
I think it’s fair to say I’ve spent almost every last moment of the last two months, preparing, researching, thinking and organising myself and thoughts before I fly across the world. And somehow, there just haven’t been enough seconds. Sat on Gatwick airport floor, the memory of the closing train doors on my bag thankfully fading, I’m hastily scrawling heartfelt letters to post whilst charging my phone before I hear my gate is closing. Oops. I finish purchasing my travel insurance (you really can do it that last minute but I don’t overly recommend) and re-pack before my next mad dash, I assure you, the last minute is how to get the most out of life…