Before I say anything else I think it is of the utmost importance to recognize the fact that someone here turned 26 (not me, I’m already 27) on Friday when we arrived in San Gil, the self-proclaimed adventure capital of Colombia. To commemorate the occasion in style we celebrated with juicy steak, delicious cake, and exquisite Chilean wine. This was of course AFTER we set up our whitewater excursion for the next day. Priorities.
The water level was, as seems to be the case with us 100% of the time, low. As we prepared for our first river trip without a kayaking guide, just following after a raft, and without any staff that could speak English, we noticed that the equipment was a little subpar. By subpar I mean that my paddle was missing a 1/3rd of its surface area…another first for me. The river was a strong (the water was surprisingly pushy for the low water level) class II river with a couple of III’s thrown in there. Thankfully this made it the easiest river we’ve done yet and so we don’t have any stories of blood and gore for a change. On the other hand, the poor condition of our equipment allowed us each to save the other when upside down for the first time. Nevertheless, we had a great time on the Rio Fonce.
Finishing the river early in the day we headed for the nearby towns of Barichara and Guane. We had hoped to walk back (about 6k along a “delightful” trail) from Guane to Barichara but as the bus left Barichara for Guane and began its rather steep descent into the valley below…we were less than pleased with our chances of making it back before nightfall. While in the Guane museum – filled with hundreds of fossils and pieces of colonial history from the area – we were more concerned with the amount of time it would take to walk back than with the new dinosaur skeleton discovered in the valley a mere nine months ago.
With three hours to do it and being told that was the most it would take, we started the trail and finished in less than half half our allotted time…silly us for being worried. The path itself was created by a German some years ago to commemorate the trail the indigenous used to “commute” in the time of the Spanish conquest. We passed many fossils in the rocks, we could identify some fish and clams, as well as a couple of still alive gringos and a man on a mule. When we finished, way ahead of schedule, we celebrated with some delightful grilled meat purchased from a street vendor (cost $1) and then warmed up with some yummy hot chocolate.