December 5, 2007
El Cocuy National Park Trip Day 2
I took the first bus out of Soata this morning at 7:00 AM. It was another terrific journey as we went higher and higher to the point where I caught my first glimpse of snow in Colombia. But the trip felt a bit like deja vu because we kept stopping in small towns that all looked identical and the bus driver must have only owned one tape because we kept listening to the same five songs over and over again. We got to Guican, the last town before the park, after seven hours on what some authors would call "Bone Crushing" roads.
The military police stopped us along the way, which made me feel secure because their presence meant that there weren't any paramilitaries in the area, but I seriously doubted their methods. They only made the men get off the bus and searched us thoroughly, but they did nothing to the women and only gave the bus itself the once over. So the men weren't carrying any weapons, but the bus could have been filled with drugs, guns, and bombs and the military would have never known. The same thing happens in dance clubs where men get searched, but women, who are the ones carrying purses that could easily conceal weapons, don't. I don't see how this sexism could possibly be effective, but I've been told that the area is much safer than it was a few years ago. It's better than anarchy I guess.
Eduardo had a friend who owned a refuge at the edge of the park, and I learned that he had been expecting me when I called his this afternoon. But surprise, surprise, there was no public transportation that could take me up there until tomorrow. It would be possible to walk, but I'm at high altitude again (3000 meters), and the refuge is another 1000 meters up from here. On top of that, I still hadn't seen a decent map of the park as even the park ranger was all out, and there likely would be dozens of different paths crossing each other with absolutely no indication of where they led as is the norm in South America. Also, after I ate lunch I looked white as a ghost and nearly passed out, and seriously doubted my ability to do a difficult walk carrying a 20 KG backpack. But at least I could eat.
The photo album for this entry is here.