Kogi children, Colombia

I went on this five-day trek to la Ciudad Perdida, an ancient ruin deep in the jungle in Sierra Nevada, Colombia. There were about six trekkers, three guides and one mule. It soon became apparent that I was the least in-shape member of the group. By day two Beto, the main guide, was already carrying my backpack for me (he also took my wet clothes when I was sleeping and dried them by the fire before folding them and putting them beside my hammock. Aw…).

There was this insane rushing river we had to cross like five times using a rope. The first time I crossed my legs shot out behind me and I was parallel with the water and hanging on for dear life. Beto had to save me from being swept away. Next time we crossed, all those who crossed before me had their cameras ready in case I did that again.

Once we got to la Cuidad Perdida, I lost one of my shoes when I tried to throw it across a stream because I didn’t want to get it wet. It bounced off a rock and was never seen again. Beto gave me his shoes and he wore rubber boots for the rest of the trek.

Needless to say, I was also the slowest trekker. On the last day, I trailed behind the others by myself. By myself. In the jungle. In frigging Colombia. Thankfully we were backtracking down the same trail, so I didn’t think I’d get lost. But of course I did.

I took a left turn somewhere and ended up in a Kogi village, where I came upon these two darling little girls. I wandered into the village and thought, OK, this is it. I’m lost deep in the jungle so I guess this is my life now and maybe the Kogi will take me in and teach me their ways. Then a Kogi man came up to me and told me in perfect Spanish how I could get back to the trail. Eventually I hooked up with the other trekkers.

A month after I did that trek, eight trekkers were kidnapped right at la Ciudad Perdida by the National Liberation Army, or the ELN, and marched into some other part of the jungle. One enterprising kidnappee jumped over a cliff and landed in a river. He reportedly wandered in the jungle for 12 days before being found by some Kogi people. The others were released in the proceeding months.

Man, I miss travelling.

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