We’re on our way back from four glorious (albeit sweaty) nights camping on the Caribbean Coast in the Tayrona National Park.
The National Park sits in Colombia’s north-east and is essentially a stretch of jungle with pristine beaches looking out onto the Caribbean Sea. You hike through the jungle to a choice of campsites overlooking the ocean, choose a tent or a hammock, and relax. What better way to take a break from a hectic travelling schedule?!
Walking through the jungle, there’s no mistaking you’re somewhere exotic: brightly coloured lizards scurry out of the way, bulging black centipedes inch (or is that centimetre) their way along, and occasionally a small lemon-yellow snake squirms its way off the path. The beaches are absolutely crawling with crabs, whose antics kept us entertained to no end – Laura thought she saw a couple of (no doubt teenage male) crabs waving their big claws at each other in a threatening fist-shake. Along with visitors of the human kind, the campsites appear to be hosting lots of frogs, of varying sizes, from cute and halluciounagenically coloured little nippers through to 2kg monsters that would no doubt feed a French family for Sunday lunch. However, it was only once a thunderstorm was raining down that we met the true special guest of our area.
Our tent was pitched on a bed of sand, beneath a secondary thatched roof made of woven palm leaves. We thought this gave us some additional protection from the elements, and meant we didn’t need to worry so much if the tent leaked. It seems the local inhabitants had the same thought. As the skies emptied, we were pretty happy to be tucked up inside, and even though some of the drips were getting through, we quickly used a trusty umbrella to spare the worst from our beds. Lying sweating in the humid equatorial heat, a nearby bulb cast a light over the darkened tent, and I was just drifting off to sleep when Laura screamed. There was something moving slowly up the outside of the mesh inner tent. It had eight furry legs, a couple of fangs at the front, and I could swear there were red eyes too, but that may have been my imagination. Oh, and the worst thing about our night guest? It was huge – definitely the biggest spider I have ever seen in person, bigger than my outstretched hand, and looming larger by the second. Needless to say, we were very glad we’d decided to close the inner tent in spite of the heat – and that we hadn’t taken the option of sleeping in hammocks out in the open. With the help of a book our guest was successfully evicted, but I’m not sure either of us slept easily that night!