Edventuring in San Gil
Jan 10, 2008
|Photos are to come but I am having trouble with using my memory stick here.
Touted as the adventure (or in my case Edventure) sports capital of Colombia, San Gil was a great place. From Villa de Leyva me, Rachel, and a newfound friend, a Dutchman named Bram, travelled most of the day to get there. The hostal we wanted was full so Rachel and I had to spend two nights in a normal hotel before moving to the backpacker hostal.
On another tangent ... if I were to ask people to say one buzzword about each country in the world, probably the most frequent one assignet to Brazil would be Carnaval. Unfortunately, the word associated with Colombia would be cocaine. Yes, cocaine is an important topic and the numbers are staggering.
For instance, profits from the cocaine business are about 53 billion annually - that is five times the amount of foreign aid spent on the entire African continent.
Here is anther quote that I found before travelling: "What Colombia really does is supply the cocaine and heeroin that millions of Americans ingest. Colombia is the main producer of the cocaine and heroin used in the United States. Currently, the roughly 6 million Americans considered 'chronic' or occasional users of cocaine and heroin spent at least $46 billion annually on the drugs"
Upon reading these numbers, I did a simple calculation - this means that these these users AVERAGE spending (46 billion $)/(6 million people) = 7700 dollars per user per year! That is a large number.
So, obviously there is some cocaine floating around, but, in the 50 or so days up to this point I was offered to buy it once on the street, and once in a nightclub in Cali I saw a guy snorting away. Yes, the country of Colombia continues to be mired in the cocaine business. However, travelling in Colombia is about Gaucho cowboys, friendly people, Latin music, rustic towns, and lush green landscapes ... NOT COCAINE.
In San Gil we went paragliding and white water rafting, both firsts for me. They were expensive by travel standards, but still much cheapter than it would be to do these in the USA, and they were fabulous by any standard. When paragliding we would go tandem and I got to take off and land twice because the first time there was a twisted line, requiring fixing. Of all the jobs in Colombia, our river rafting and paragliding guides have the best ones.
One night in San Gil we went out in seach of a disco, but realized that, instead, most people go to the park to drink and mingle - so we did the same. Eventually we were talking to three girls in their early 20´s, all university students. They could converse with Bram and I perfectly and it was great. Again, speaking Spanish with the educated is a pure joy, but with commoners it can be like a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.
On the last day Rachel, Bram, and I went to a spectacular waterfall. Us boys were determined to get to the closest point, where the water was crashing down. After quite a bit of slick climbing we were right under the falls, right at the edge of where the water was raining down. Where we were, we were getting a moderate amount of water pelting us. However, a big wind shift came and the big bulk of water moved position and pummeled us. It hurt badly on our backs and heads, pulled my shorts down, and I almost slipped down the hill! Again, Colombia is a dangerous place.