Monday, July 2, 2012

Día 305: Something about the wind makes me feel undefeatable.

The short version is this: Kate Belford and I spent today at the beach.

But the real version is that it's been quite a day. We returned to our hotel room about an hour ago and I proclaimed, "success." Kate responded, "happiness."

We awoke half an hour behind schedule this morning to a spectacular breakfast, and hurriedly shuffled to the dock in our flip-flops. We found a stampede of people and sweat as we waited in line not quite sure which boat was ours or how our company would find us.

But anything is possible in Colombia and sure enough, we were on the romantically named "Por Ella" within minutes, welcoming the sea's breeze. This ride was one of those "nothing here is missing" experiences, one of those "I'm glad I took a gap year" rides, one of those "I'm excited about everything I'm doing now and in the near future" times.

We arrived at Isla Barú to a slew of families playing in the water and vendors pestering us in the sand. We were talked into renting a tent, allured into purchasing sarongs, seduced into getting massages, and sorely swindled into supporting corporate control of drinking water. (Luckily, none of these scams cost more than $5.)

After a vegetarian lunch, we moved to a quieter part of the beach and made some friends, who served as support for Kate's observation that children tend to flock to me. They enjoyed fortifying their sand castle, but when it filled with water and melted away, they found a new game. Why can't we be more like that?

I denied every jewelry artist who came my way all day (there were many) but gave business to many fruit peddlers. It's all about the mango.

Bronzed, covered in sand, and waiting for the boat to take us back, we made more friends -- Sophia and Cecilia, who wanted to know how to say their names in English.

The ride back to Cartagena was the highlight of my day. Now rising against the wind, we were battered with an insane gushing of air, water, and sound all the way back. The exhilaration of it all distracted Kate and me from the fact that our boat leaping out of the water multiple times was actually rather terrifying. What a ride.

At the end of this adventure, our driver announced, "you may be surprised you're still alive, but at least you weren't bored!" Yes, holding on for one's life and getting a facial massage from the jets of air hitting your cheeks certainly isn't boring.

Kate and I staggered onto the dock giddy, enthused, and really, really tired. We made only one stop on our way home -- to pick up some cocadas, my new definition of heaven. Coconut chunks smooshed with pure sugar? Joy.

De-sanded, showered, and moisturized, we are grabbing a few minutes of rest before dinner at El Baluarte, a restaurant and bar situated atop the wall that girds the city. Another Diana Morales recommendation -- we can't go wrong!

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