Colombia Redux: Rio Claro and Hacienda Napoles

Amazing: I've reached escape - terminal? - velocity from Medellín?!? Yes, the hub to my recent hub-and-spoking is now being left behind for good - well, probably until next year, anyway, at the rate I'm going with Colombia travel. Anywho, I really haven't much choice but to leave with an awaiting flight in Bogotá in just over a week. PLUS I've always been harboring some thoughts of a few attractions found right ON that very trunk road between Colombia's two largest cities. Buh-bye, M-Town!

Rio Claro, at three hours from Medellín, has been left on my Medellín plate while in town precisely because of its distance: It's too far for a reasonable day trip. I know, too, that Pablo Escobar's former estate, the Hacienda Napoles, is not much further beyond. Then, beyond those two, why not also plan that overdue stop in Honda, the historical terminus point of the Rio Magdalena's traffic. For 300 years it was an important town on Colombia's map, though that ceased to be the case about 100 years ago what with the arrival of planes, trains, and automobiles. To me that's only added to its forgotten city, Macchu Picchu-esque allure - a kind of Mompox Part Two, if you will.

First up is Rio Claro, however. Fortunately, I have a companion from the hostel who's similarly interested in the place, willing to hang with me for several days to see whatever tomfoolery we can come up with there. Martin is on his way to Bogotá or Cali (it keeps alternating) to meet his sister, next to make his way south to Ecuador; I'm happy for the (infrequent) company in changing towns. In theory, at least, Loud Mike might even join us as well, but with each minute and mile that we speed away from Medellín I doubt that increasingly. Without a physical hand to hold, the guy's confidence and insecurity will surely get the best of him, wondering if we'd still be there when he arrived. He's generally not comfortable without a posse of suitable number greater than one.

So Martin and I had make our way to the station and buy our tickets, ready to disappear from Medellín's fair embrace in fairly short order. We don't have to wait long for the next bus, either, not when it's heading on the most-trafficked road in the country. So it isn't much later that we're on said (large) bus, making our way up the hill to clear Medellín's valley. We'll then spend the remaining part of three hours plowing our way downhill. Throughout, the lush Andes welcome us on both sides, offering both greenery and... "cliffery" throughout the journey.

Simultaneous with the drop downward comes a corresponding rise in another several degrees celsius, however. THAT we experience in force, immediately upon being left at the side of the road by the clear river (Rio Claro, literally) lying to one side. We eye the lone, large gas station as its few occupants idly look us over curiously, then we walk over to the bridge to take our first peek of confirmation at the famed river. Yep, it's very, very clear, and yep, it looks to be a beautiful spot overall. How can it not be, what with such high walls of verdant green canyon looming on both sides of us? We return to pick our bags up from the dusty road, then mosey on over to the dirt track that'll take us to the main lodge.

As luck has it - and it certainly does - we enter just as a (usually) tourist-ferrying truck does as well. Straight away we hop on the back with our luggage, our bags sliding around a bit shortly thereafter as we make our way upriver for only perhaps a kilometer and a half. Seeing as I'm loaded down with a trumpet and an extra heavy bag of food - mostly heavy fruit based on the guidebook's warnings of the lack of such in the area - I'm more than grateful for the lift in the midday heat.

At the lodge we almost immediately find out that 1) we're about the only guests around and 2) this is going to cost a chunk more than anticipated. The latter is particularly bothersome, since there isn't an ATM to be found anywhere in the vicinity unless we continue on to the next town up the road. We're only apprised of these facts, however, when our new host - a Paisa undoubtedly of no pouting equal - matter-of-factly lets it be known that she doesn't particularly care whether we stay or go. Okay, that's extrapolating a bit, or maybe interpolating, or perhaps using a smidge of inductive and deductive logic both - I dunno, not my field anymore. What I'm saying is that the imprint of blasé could not be written more plainly all over her face.

To this I quickly resolve to take on the mission of breaking this girl down. She... will... smile, even if I have to pin her down on the ground to pinch the corners of her mouth to turn that frown upside down. In the interim, however, she'll weightily sigh endlessly: Fine, fine!, for example, she WILL deign to let us look at some rooms first before we pay - such demanding tourists we are! Then she assigns us the same room regardless, only changing it to two of them separately when we successfully whine about the equality in price either which way. In neither case will she give any apparent thought to the matter at all. We proceed to check our new digs out satisfactorily, finally allowing her to finish the rolling of her eyes fully to the back of her skull to register us with magisterial intent.

We soon have dumped our stuff, then, into these three-walled rooms with no screens. Apparently all of the rooms in the joint open to the jungle on at least one side, permitting an intimate connection with the sound of the river's running water. They're all kempt rooms, too, but right away we guess that it'll be interesting to find out which specific critters might like to take advantage of such easy access to two fine human specimens with gringo blood. All this will be had at 75000CP/night (versus the 55000CP/night specified per my latest edition LP guidebook) with meals included, but we're still satisfied with the lay of the land. The place has a bit of Shangri-La brushed over it that way.

Immediately we head down to take a look at the river, that body of clear and perfectly-temperatured waters which appears to indeed be everything we've hoped for. One can swim in this stuff nigh on forever, we conclude, this from a dip accomplished forthwith. Moreover, what with its water-shaped rocks and ledges - there are numerous appealing places to sit on the river's banks - or even within it on islands - if not using its numerous beaches. What with the caves and ever more jungle beyond, we're actually wowed, equally convinced of spending at least three nights in the lodge - its backpacker-unfriendly price be damned. (It helps, too, to not lose sight of the fact that this would cost perhaps 10 times as much on Hawai'i. One does rather adopt a pervasive mentality of economy with a backpack in tow in the "Third World" - which Colombia decidedly isn't, at least not completely.)

As for what to do outside of swim, swim, and swim, there IS also a local cave of some interest. There are also activities such as rafting and tubing available at the lodge. Then again, one can just sit around and read or... play a trumpet. I'm completely satisfied with such an agenda's possibilities; Martin seconds the motion as the gavel drops in sound judgement of "Aye!" Sold!

Exploring the cave is the most obvious attraction, one for which we quickly sign up. Getting there and "doing it" is straightforward, merely requiring a walk of a couple hours or so through the surrounding jungle and then the cave itself. Once inside the cave, we're promised attractive rock formations for our perusal, true, but it'll be the odd oilbirds at each end of the cave's interior that make the thing properly spooky. The only thing we DON'T plan on is being part of a large group, one that materializes from nowhere the next day to do it with us. In the end, we won't really care about that, either. We're in a unique paradise - no room fer gripin'!

This mass of humanity does make things considerably slower, however, both when making our way on the jungle paths and inside the cave. It's in a straggly-if-sinuous line that we thus walk about an half hour to the entrance, clambering over paths that go up and down dramatically. This includes a section over some jagged rocks that requires an all-hands-on-rock approach, plus a steady will, to not slip any amount whatsoever and impale oneself on a spike. With such a warm-up, though, we're unquestionably ready for anything when we finally reach the cave entrance. Besides, the sweat and mosquitoes bit is getting old, those becoming most annoying when we wait for the last few folks (in more questionable physical shape) to arrive at the cave's entrada.

Finally the cave is allowed to make its appeal known: We enter its redoubt. Indeed, its walls are beautifully carved by the waters that course through it on a pretty regular basis. In fact, we wouldn't have been able to enter the thing at all if at any time shortly after a heavy rain - too dangerous. It's soon obvious to note, as well, that the waters reach the ceilings in many a part at times. We'll still regardless have to jump into a number of pools from time to time to advance. (This should sufficiently explain the ensuing lack of photos of its interior.)

The oilbirds prove an odd attraction, meanwhile, even if I shortly feel sorry for them. Nestled at the two ends of the caves, they go into a panic as our group enters and leaves their areas. In both cases, there erupts five minute sessions of cacophony, unquestionably inspiring some terror in both them and perhaps us as well as they noisily set off in chorus until we get a sufficient distance away. Who ARE these freaks with flashlights to disturb their otherwise calm home? A fair enough question, no? In high season, I think, one can only imagine how this must get out of hand for the poor things. How many trips are run per day/week then, I wonder?

It isn't like the birds don't exact SOME revenge, though. For example, they scare US a bit whenever one should fly down in a panicked swoop. We're all also made acutely aware in no time that the water through which we're traversing must have traces of their poop in it, too. Yep, we're literally in an open bird sewer, one that we at times fully immerse ourselves into to advance. As for the squishy stuff our hands grab onto when grasping a wall or ledge? Well... enough said.

Still and all the cave makes for a worthy little adventure, an intriguing sideshow to dump us back into the area's main attraction, the river. I personally am more than happy to get back out as much as I've been interested within - the place kinda smells! Moreover, perhaps oddly, hanging out in a oversized toilet usually doesn't make for the greatest appeal to me. I'm weird that way. In any event, for the rest of our time in Río Claro Martin and I will keep our attention on the river proper. We'll be content to pass the days walking up and down alongside - or swimming within - it. There's no problem in finding nice spots to read, plus I've got the trumpet to sound out any and all possibly pleasing acoustics at every turn - as is its eternal wont.

Over these few days we do meet a handful of others who similarly have added Río Claro to their passing plans. A couple of Swiss men mostly keep to themselves, their impenetrable Swiss German a suitable barrier enough if or whenever they don't want anyone to eavesdrop (my German certainly isn't up to the task) - which they seemingly don't. It's not like they're unfriendly, but it takes no time to determine that they're content to merely drain beer after beer and head off to the next attraction donned only in their speedos.

A fun-loving Dutch couple also come by for a couple of days, as does a dread-locked German. They happily admire the river for a day or so, each nevertheless balking a bit at the price of the accommodations while also rueing the lack of more adrenalin-demanding activities. With the river low and languorous, a pleasant day of swimming is about the size of things, they figure. Martin and I are mutually sure they've missed the magic idyll of such a spot, but perhaps this is just our age and travel experience showing. Or not showing, as the case might be better viewed from their part.

Of more interest to us grizzled backpacker veterans are two other, younger travelers, both of whom were recently at our hostel in Medell&icaute;n. One, a cute Canadian girl hailing from Victoria, has been invited to come to Río Claro by the other, a dour Australian lawyer hailing from Melbourne. A more unlikely pair can not be found, to the extent that we not quite sure if they're even a couple in any typical sense. But if they are - or are to be - Martin assures me that the guy is "punching well above his weight." I can only concur, though not without a certain amount of jealousy: How often does such a frog get to kiss the princess? He surely will not be turning into a prince, either.

It's to such incongruity that we soon find ourselves enjoying healthy speculation, call it gossip if need be, but we especially enjoy ourselves when the Australian shoots us a nasty look when we sit on the same beach as the two. Are they? Will they? We wonder, but the jury refuses to come in on first recess. Meanwhile, both in our immediate company and without, our new Aussie acquaintance sports forlorn looks as he tries repeatedly to wax deepness and poetry (literally - egads!) to the light-hearted girl. Surely, we think, this crowding HAS to be turning the girl off, no prize he by any measure conceivable in our books.

How wrong we'll be, but it'll be poor Martin that'll have the pleasure of getting the rough outline of their final evening - his room being next door and all. A few rustlings, a male moan or two... well, that's about it. Apparently every dog has his day, after all... even if the sum total of their sordid events of the evening only can meagerly explain the awkward silence between the two the next morning. They separately arrive to sit at the same table, sharing a final breakfast together quietly. We could've told her!

With these two quickly departing, missions accomplished and/or not, we next resign ourselves to contending with other things to pass the time. These are such things as the rat that's getting at Martin's bananas each evening, a nemesis to confront with different strategies for hanging food each night. As for the more numerous lizards and birds, colorful and in good number each, they fortunately provide far fewer such hijinx in our open redoubts. They're just to be enjoyed, flitting about constantly while providing a noisy-yet-pleasing soundtrack (particularly come dusk and dawn).

Activity-wise, we soon opt to get a float in. This only takes renting inner tubes to haul up and down the river at our leisure, for as many repeated runs as we'd like. In doing so, we'll find the rapids to not be as rapid as they've looked after all - but they're still capable of dumping us each in at least once. I soon even sport a skinned knee for a time afterward, whereas Martin will receive a nice bump in the head. Evidently the helmets and lifejackets are not just for show.

Still, can a more enjoyable way to experience a river be had than tubing? Might I suggest... no? There's just this something about letting a river lazily take you as it will, being cast about upon its strength instead of one's own. (Our paddling is far more for orientation with the river than anything else.) For this particular "effort", we have views aplenty, ones that come rolling by like a slowly spooling movie straight out of Jurassic Park. Yes, this water is fresh, the sounds of nature form a music, and the overall languidness offered by this (lack of) adventure is perfect.

Nevertheless, after a few such idyllic days we're ready to move on. Maybe that's only because our Paisa friend at the reception has been truly broken in, smiling to each of us with coy flirtation when not rolling her eyes now to a much more fetching, pleasing effect. She's still as tough as ever, of course - she'll have it no other way! - but by our departure she's become amenable to most of our entreaties, even if this won't include reducing our price to what a few others have paid. Which is a bummer: The Dutch couple and the Canadian girl successfully plead hardship (combined with the lack of an ATM) to successfully reach the old guidebook price that we'd failed to achieve, a wise strategy we didn't even think of trying in such a competition-free spot. Not so us the wise veteran travelers after all, perhaps.

We're nonetheless satisfied with the detour, even as we now head on to Doradal. There we hope to check out Pablo Escobar's former retreat of Hacienda Napoles in a day's time, a reasonable proposition according to all. With no handy truck to make the trip out from resort, this time we walk with all our gear back down the kilometer-plus back to the main road. We only have to wait 10-15 minutes in the heat, however, when a small buseta pulls over to take us on. We next hurl along at the usual breakneck speed to town, all of twenty minutes in this small van which redeposits us, now at the main bus-meeting point called Doradal.

Immediately we take a room in the adjoining hotel, one universally recommended by the staff in Río Claro. It nevertheless first takes some seconds to realize that the Hotel Yahaya we find ourselves in front of HAS to be the one that I could've sworn is (pronounced, anyway) the Hotel Zha-zha. So here we are, albeit without Ms. Gabor (Zsa-Zsa to those who never saw or ever heard of the ancient, corny TV show Green Acres) to await us, soon depositing our things and setting down the road to the Hacienda. Our mini-trek sees us through hot and dusty Doradal, a crossroads of a town or a town of a crossroads that is nothing as horrible as it was made out to be by the owner of our Medellín hostel. It's not much more than a transit point, yes, but it feels safe, low-key and, more importantly, only a few eyebrows are lazily raised to us lone gringos passing conspicuously through town.

It's only at the gates to the Hacienda that the odd stares began. Ours. It starts right with the large gates that have an airplane on top. That alone beckons us to the upcoming weirdness. Then comes the questioning of sculptures of dinosaurs and large animals from Africa. Hmmm. Ah, yes - apparently Escobar HAD wanted to build the finest private zoo in the world. That explains the African bent. As for the the just-as-ubiquitous dinosaur sculptures... well, those were just one of his passions. If you were the richest and most powerful druglord in the world, no one was likely going to tell you that there aren't any dinosaur bones to be had anywhere in the area. (Nor, if he had lived long enough, that Jurassic Park wasn't real. I don't THINK he saw it in his final lam days of overlapping time.)

But all will be revealed only after we walk up to the roadside restaurant past the gates, us two more than ready to ask what the what is. Like, where precisely are we supposed to be going?, for instance. Shortly later, a man comes out of the back of the place, instantly a curious mix of both hostility and helpfulness: "What you want?" he asks. Well, first off I REALLY want to know why he's responding in English to my query in Spanish (something which I invariably find off-putting and possibly condescending - but I'd leave THAT confrontation aside for a later time, especially with his look bespeaking more "mean" than "overjoyed"). Uh... so... how - or rather, where - can we buy tickets?

[An aside: I've always hated this odd form of confrontation, where one asks in the local language but is replied to in English. The mix of trying to be "helpful" by speaking the foreigner's language has to be measured against the hostility or haughtiness implied by rejecting one's capacity to speak the local tongue. This never seems to go over well, either, especially when the nuances in English over word choices are so strong. For example, one can eternally wonder whether the subtlety between the demanding "what (do) you want" (the literal translation of what one would ask in Spanish) and the more pleasant "what would you like (to know)" is understood.]

Alternating between Spanish and English, we soon receive the information we want - our "frenemy" becomes somewhat helpful in spite of himself. We nevertheless leave him behind not knowing one iota more about how welcome we are to show up at this unusual attraction. Is there a distaste among Colombians about non-Colombians coming to look at the ruins and extravagance of such a polarizing character, both loved and reviled in Colombia's history? On first blush we realize that this question will remain for a while longer - if mainly because virtually no one else is about.

But it doesn't stop me from ruminating. For one thing, I know that, back in the day, both Doradal and its roadside restaurant would have been under the total control of Escobar's minions. Showing up here would have been a frankly dangerous undertaking, one risking death or kidnapping. But now, under mostly local control (and sans a mega-druglord), they're trying to turn this mess into a "proper" theme park. We'll shortly discover, however, that the jury is completely out on how successful it will - or even can - be.

Seriously: If skipping the Escobar (i.e. historical) side of it, do people really want to come out to the middle of nowhere to see a zoo that could easily be competed with back in Medellín or Bogotá? Most of the original animals from the park's heydey disappeared long back when Escobar was killed, some stolen, others naturally dying, and still more just wandering off into the unknown. Speaking to the Escobar side of it, too, even the house was taken apart back when he disappeared, when all those copious examples of useful material supplies and luxurious appointments were no longer under protection. What's really left to see?

Well, no such thoughts would get us any sooner from here to there; We walk under a powerfully direct sun, achieving entry into the first theme park-like building after a short hike. That is the official ticket office, where we dodge around a massive crocodile sculpture to get our tickets (24000CP to stroll the main grounds) before proceeding to the main gate. There we can only laugh at its piped-in roars, straight out of the movie Jurassic Park. We're immediately informed upon entering that we can summon a vehicle to take us around the park's far-flung locations, if we want, at no charge. Hmm... we want, indeed: 3000 hectares is a lot to explore on foot. We'll start with walking, sure, but... we're quite happy when some ten or fifteen minutes later our safari chariot pulls up, garishly painted like a zebra. Well, seeing that it's otherwise empty and available to make things convenient... okay! (Only later will we confirm that we wouldn't have seen much without its help.)

Thus our program gets underway, starting with the hippos that are all located in an enclosure of sorts, separated to one side of the park from the rest of the attractions. These include a few still around from Escobar's day, even as the others long ago disappeared to claim a new Africa somewhere in the nearby area. Of the others we see, some have been added while nature procreative side has taken care of the rest. Hubba, hubba, hippo! We learn these amazing facts as we spend a brief while gaping at the beasts to the tune of a nearby pre-recorded play-by-play (which announces all of the above, on loop, in English and Spanish both). By far the most interesting detail is that, come sundown, the hippos leave this small water area to wander the entire park. When that happens, it's best to be gone - and we immediately vow to try and do the same l-o-o-o-o-ong before then.

So our zebricle took us to our next destination, this done by passing the Hacienda's zoo proper along the way. From our vehicle, we can see a rather typical collection of zoo critters, all mulling about near the vastly more atypical, yet ever-continuing parade of dinosaur statues. We next learn that THOSE are all recreations and restorations of what Pablo had originally ordered (all from the same artist). In a cost-saving measure, the theme park has decided on using what it already has - ignoring however odd that is.

After passing the zoo by, we next rumble past a number of large enclosures outside of its focal area. These pens house zebras, monkeys, and more, but we're happy to move on and then get out at the Mariposarium instead. Ah - a butterfly enclosure! Now this is something special indeed, a large, opulent, and effectively outdoor enclosure housing a great variety of butterflies. Martin and I both take to our cameras immediately with eagerness. It's impossible to pass up such willing and photogenic participants, especially when all are virtually just sitting around to unwittingly pose nice and still-like. We're both impressed with this unexpectedly well-done display, especially since there's no one else about to hurry us along.

No, only the sun will do that - and it's well working on its way down by this time. So we decide to part with our fragile friends to pass by the monkeys again, plus yet another hippo that coincidentally shares the name of Martin's sister (Vanessa, who will apparently hear about this shortly). There's a story about this particular hippo being kept apart from the rest, but it's one that is so meaningful that I immediately forget it. We next look over at the water ride under construction instead, with many workers teeming over it, extending by fiat the theme park's "wildlife and dinosaur kingdom" aspect found in all its construction. After that a few jaguars follow, each in a heartrendingly small cage, before the flock of flamingoes that comes next announces our proximity to the main attraction - the house.

This prime attraction, however, is itself still barely preceded by a display of burnt-out and exotic vehicles of Pablo's, a collection housed under two tents. Their state of being hints at what's to come next when we get to the house, a crumbling hulk of an edifice. This shell of a formerly grand place has been left as-is on purpose, a testimony to the ruin that Escobar showered on the so many people which had come in contact with him. When he FINALLY left this earthly domain in a rather bullet-ridden state, his neighbors wasted no time in making extensive work of wrenching out anything of value within. What's left has become the museum.

The remains are nevertheless still quite impressive in their way, mainly because placards adorn its many walls with information. Granted, some of these serve only as recruitment tools for the military or as propaganda for politicians, but they're well done throughout to give the backdrop and story. They make at least a surface attempt of being fair, with each side of the long battle between Escobar and the government explored. His perverse popularity locally and abroad gets its due; so, too, does the campaign of terror which he waged. Magnified newspaper clippings of this bloody war serve to outline the story as do the many large and blown-up photos: One can't help but sympathize with the misery rained down on the country on his behalf.

Meanwhile the house, although in ruins, still provides a good image of what the place was like in his "glory days". There's a runway, a helicopter pad, a swimming pool, plus Greek columns about a patio area to hint at former high times. Essentially one finds all the accoutrements of a druglord in full excess, if no longer in full bloom. The zoo on the surrounding land was only just the icing on the cake, the procession to the throne one went through to gain an audience with the monster.

A bomb attributed to Escobar went gone off at his place of employment one day back thenBut there's more, we find, like the bullfighting ring with its own grandstand. We head there upon exiting the house-museum, our driver now taking the time to explain his side of the story. He was a former bodyguard in Bogotá with the DAS service, narrowly missing death himself once. A bomb attributed to Escobar went off at his place of employment one day back when; He only missed the tragedy by having stepped out to take a short nap elsewhere. Which reminds me: Never but NEVER underestimate the power of a siesta!

Well, such is Hacienda Napoles. We end our tour by wandering by a few more enclosures of animals - like the ostriches, for instance - before our personalized touring zebra takes us back to the entrance. We walk back toward the main road as the sun goes away, almost making it off the grounds completely to regain the main road before a moto-taxi materializes from nowhere to take us the rest of the way. That alone proves that there can be a good side to being the only gringos around, we agree - everyone probably knows exactly where we are at all times.

Anyway, that about sums it up for Doradal as well. We wander back through this rather basic town once more only for a bit, mainly trying to find an internet cafe - which we find, along with its VERY evidently bored manager. He sits at his computer, practicing his English diction as we briefly sent out emails. We listen to him pronounce mother as "mud-du-er" about twenty times in succession, each time sounding exactly like the previous, as we catch up on the state of the world via the newssites which slowly stream down to us. From this touching base with the rest of the world we return to our room, cleaning off the Hacienda's dust while pondering in depth what we've just seen. We diligently compare and contrast the theme of man's inhumanity to man while resorting to graphs we next make to track the price of drugs, the number of political prisoners in Colombian jails, and the price of gas. Or maybe we don't do exactly that.

I DO catch the latest news on TV. This comes courtesy of some stations from the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Paraguay, and the Latin American capital - a place called Miami, I believe. I even manage to pick up a Chinese state-administered Spanish channel. Not surprisingly, no word is given on THAT station about Libya's unfolding civil war whatsoever - why encourage their own local unrest? Instead, one news item after another praises the Chinese effort in helping Japan after the recent tsunami's wreckage. Otherwise this same station devotes most of the rest of the evening to a documentary set to repeating classical music - something about some odd, orange-colored monkeys that I marginally zone out on. Metaphors and allegories surely beg answers from the situation somehow, I'm certain: Who are the monkeys? And what does orange represent? And... zzz.

With such deeper thoughts effectively ending the day, we finally conclude the same with a bite to eat back at the bus "station". Here some friendly locals engage us in a little conversation, helpful all, including one local who I can't help but take for some kind of ex-pat from Alaska. He sure looks Eskimo plenty enough, even hounding us to engage in English conversation, oddly helpful if harrying in his way. Yet, for all of these random chitchats I can't help but wonder what it must be like to live in such a nowhere place, waiting for someone or something interesting to come by. More importantly, what was it like here during those years when this was one of the far too many Ground Zeros in the drug war when it was in its outsized phase? Well, those queries will all have to answered at another time: we have a bus to catch the next morning. On to Honda...

More pictures of Rio Claro:

More pictures of Hacienda Napoles:

From the 2009-2010 trip...
Getting Going
Bogotá (East Andes finger)...7 nights
Villa de Leyva (East Andes finger)...9 nights
San Gil (East Andes finger)...5 nights, Bucaramanga (East Andes finger)...1 night
Santa Marta (Caribbean Sea)...1 night, Ciudad Perdida/The Lost City (Santa Marta range)...4 nights
Taganga (Caribbean Sea)...10 nights
Mompox (Rio Magdalena)...4 nights
Cartagena (Caribbean Sea)...2 nights
overnight hell bus of 1 night
Medellín (Middle Andes finger)...4 nights
Manizales (Middle Andes finger)...21 nights
Salento (Middle Andes finger)...15 nights
Cali (West Andes finger)...5 nights
Popayán (West Andes finger)...5 nights
San Agustin (Andes mountains)...15 nights
Bogotá (East Andes finger)...3 nights
Extra: Odds & Ends

From the 2010-2011 trip...
Bogotá (East Andes finger)...5 nights
Leticia (Amazon)...6 weeks
Medellín (Middle Andes finger)...5 weeks
Carribean Choco (Capurganá and Sapzurro on the Caribbean Coast)...2 weeks
Medellín (Middle Andes finger)...1 week
South Pacific Choco (Termales, Nuqui, Arusi and Guachalito on the Pacific Coast)...1 week
North Pacific Choco (El Valle and Bahia Solano on the Pacific Coast)...1 week
Medellín (Middle Andes finger)...1+ week
Honda (Magdalena River)...4 nights
Bogotá and Out (East Andes finger)...4 nights

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