San Gil

Headed north on a bus to San Gil with Luke, Rae-Anne, Gesine and a new addition to our travel alliance, Ida, a blond Swedish girl who like Gesine had been in South America for the best part of a year. Luke is 6' 5'', good looking, built like an olympic swimmer and at the age of 20 is studying a degree in management with an emphasis on adventure tourism. He has worked sampling soil and firefighting in the wilderness of Canada which meant he got to be a proper adventurer, meeting lots of bears and taking countless helicopter rides. He really should be very easy to hate and yet he is immensely modest and likeable; I didn't meet anyone who didn't think so*. Rae is two years older and has also had an equally full and exciting life as well as being super fit and seemingly good at everything. With the independent travel experiences of Gesine and Ida not only was I not the alpha male in the group, I wasn't even the alpha female. Then again this isn't a tall ask and everyone was excellent company.

Comfy bus, uncomfortable roads but great scenery. Got to San Gil and all five of us with our luggage squished in to a taxi the size of a fiesta.

Evening spent playing Tejo. Tejo is a sort of national sport in Colombia, it's a bit like darts, except instead of darts you use kilo weights and instead of a darts board there is a wet clay square twenty metres away and instead of a bulls eye there are triangular paper packages filled with gunpowder. So not really a whole lot like darts but a whole lot of fun. Especially when you hit the gunpowder which I managed once but only from the girls line while we were warming up.

San Gil is a popular centre for adventure sports so the next day we went canyoning and caving. All sorts of hairy experiences, squeezing through tight passages, shuffling along ledges above scary drops in to the darkness of the caves. Then to the outside world to jump, abseil and repel our way through the canyon. It was a good day to be alive.

Our guide Miguel was excellent and I enjoyed a conversation with him about Jhon Viafara which is not a sentence I've said before. He later told us about a local medicine (drug), Ayahuasca, from what I know about it it has similar active ingredients to LSD. Miguel spoke about it with religious fervor as it is only prepared by local Shamans who see it as their mission from God to enlighten the world through the healing powers of the Ayahuasca and it is only taken in special ceremonies. Since first taking the 'medicine' Miguel has given up cigarettes, alcohol, meat and is trying to give up cheese. What Miguel didn't talk about very much was that the first effects of taking Ayahuasca are vomiting and quite possibly soiling yourself. Everyone has the right to make their own mind up I suppose, you just have to ask yourself: Is spiritual enlightenment really worth a dirty pair of knickers?

*We did meet one guy who didn't seem to like Luke but he was a complete tool, a Kiwi called Tony. Having started a conversation with me about the 'awesome workout' he'd just done Tony then cut me off from whatever polite filler I was responding with by saying 'Your conversation is boring me, I'm going now'.