The road from Caracas to the coast wound sharply left and right over beautiful pass through the lush rain forest of Henri Pittier National Park. Thanks to the night before we missed all of this, sitting at the back and bouncing our way through a spectacular hangover.
Just before rolling into Puerto Colombia we stopped at a gas station to fill the truck. Thanks to the artificially low diesel prices in Venezuela this came to all of $2 for 250 litres of fuel. I took the opportunity to fall of a kerb, twisting my knee, but more about that in Roraima.
After being shown to our rooms we headed straight to the beach for a paddle to cool down. I waded into the water and swum round for a bit before standing up in about 5 feet of water and having a chat with a couple of people back on the beach. Dan appeared beside me and suggested I turn round, which I did just in time to get wiped out by a freak 12ft wave. Somewhat dazed and thrown easily 20ft back from where I was standing I coughed and spluttered whilst trying to work out where the bright light was coming from before realising that I’d accidentally been wearing my rather expensive sunglasses. I made my way back to where I’d been standing but couldn’t see them on the bottom despite the wonderfully clear water, so with the current and waves accepted that they were lost. At this point the lifeguard declared the water closed as it was 4pm and he wanted to go home so we sat on the beach for another hour chatting whilst I scanned the shoreline for a little Venezuelan kid wandering about in his new $350 Oakley shades.
Dinner was a long winded affair with far too many people being incompetent at Spanish, forgetting what they ordered then attempting not to pay for it. Again the new people immediately headed off to bed whilst the rest of us stayed up waiting for the two people who’d not made it to Caracas before we left. They’d both landed at about 10pm and after some hurried phone calls had jumped in a lucky taxi drivers cab and driven to join us. For some reason this two hour journey took them five hours but unwittingly we kept on waiting, resorting to pre-mixed rum and cola to keep us awake. By the time they arrived at 3am we were tired yet suspiciously merry.
Up at 6am the following day we chartered a boat to take us to a beautiful beach further round the coast. Most people just sat on the beach, but a few went snorkelling and those of us who’d had 40 minutes of diving lessons in Cartagena lied about our lack of experience and set off in another boat for a 45 minute scuba dive, whilst desperately trying to remember how to go up and down, and what all the diving hand signals meant. The others were fine, but both my primary and backup regulator failed once in the water and I had to sit in the boat, in the baking sun, for 40 minutes. Thankfully the others came back safely and declared it far superior to the Colombian waters, with a huge variety of fish to see.
Most Latin American countries celebrate Christmas Eve far more than Christmas day so we joined in the festivities on the seafront, sharing drinks with the residents whilst they set off dozens of fireworks and danced round the streets.