Sunday, June 26, 2011

I'm On A Boat

Coincidentally, all of my vacations this past year have been to coastal areas where swimwear was required attire.  From the jungle area of the Chocó to the Caribbean island of San Andrés to the coastal desert department of La Guajira, I figured it didn't make sense to break from tradition.  The week following the end of school I packed my board shorts and headed with a small group of teachers and some of their visiting friends on a kayaking adventure along the Pacific coast.

Departing from the only large urban area on the Pacific coast, the port city of Buenaventura, we took a fiberglass lancha to the small fishing community of Juanchaco, which served as our base camp for the next three days.  Our guide, Julio, runs his own ecotourism business and trips like this are his life, so we were in good hands.

Admiring the orchids.
Over the next three days we enjoyed mostly sunny weather - unusual for the Pacific coast, which is one of the wettest places on the planet - with visits to the small islands off the mainland, some caves, secluded beaches, an estuary, and river going into the jungle.  We saw bats fluttering about in caves, crabs scrambling over wave-swept rocks, pelicans roosting in trees, and blue-footed boobies perched precariously on cliff ledges.  Julio also was fond of pointing out all kinds of species of orchids, which happens to be Colombia's national flower.

Ocean kayaking is strenuous, especially when your fighting the current or getting nauseous from large sea swells.  Despite the sore shoulders, near-blistered hands, chaffed butt, and one capsizing, nothing can compete with the stunning beauty of this region, especially sections only accessible by small boat.  With Julio's expertise, I will definitely be doing this trip again!