When travelling on a budget there is little space for your comfort zone and we regularly found ourselves out of ours. Following advice from Leighton and Paula, our friends in
Santa Marta, we booked into a beautiful bed and breakfast surrounded by a national park full of waterfalls. The place itself was wonderful but we found ourselves 16km out of town with only a few buses a day passing about 2km from the front door. The owners, who spoke a small amount of English, left us in the good care of their Spanish speaking staff as they went off on holiday. Comfort zone for me; zero when you consider the difficulty obtaining vegetarian cuisine in the middle of a big beef eating country. On the second day we set off
into town having difficulty understanding the bus timetable information from our hosts when we found ourselves keeping time with a quick paced old farmer who informed us that the next bus was two hours away. So, determined to sightsee in the colonial town of Villa del Leiva, we walked on and proceeded to hitchhike. (Message to my children: Do as I say and not as I do). Two trucks passed us by and the second came to a roaring halt and we were instructed to jump up behind the cabin. The truck only went slowly due to the winding road and potholes and hairpin bends. We still hung on for dear life as we stood on a grate over the diesel tanks. We had a great view and it was quite an experience. Comfort zone; minus 2.
The village itself was beautiful with a huge cobble stoned square. It was well worth the effort. We managed to get a bus back to the road that led to the B & B.
We called into the national park to get some opening times, hoping to do a hike before leaving for Bogata the next day. Within minutes, Thomas had negotiated a guide to some nearby caves. So we headed off into the mountains with this young man. The first cave was more of a shelter for the ancient indigenous people of the area. Bats had inhabited it now. But the second cave was an elaborate labyrinth of tunnels with underground waterfalls. After crawling on a few occasions we emerged into a huge
auditorium. Edward, our guide, took out a recorder type instrument, advised us to close our eyes. It was hauntingly beautiful as the acoustics carried his tune. Tours from Villa del Leiva cost four times as much and a lot of this was due to the insurance. Edward just gave us a crystal to protect us from harm. Money better spent in the long run. Comfort zone; plus 5.
Before leaving the countryside, we went on a hike to explore the national park. Edward had told us of an extra waterfall that we could visit off the regular pathway. This trek took us up a cliff and along a ridge. Comfort zone; minus 1. This last waterfall was very different with a huge slab of slate jutting out from beneath the first layer of water. A neighbourhood dog kindly escorted us throughout the hike and kept us on t
he right path.