While backpacking in Colombia, I spent four days in Barranquilla, a city on the Northern coast, at a huge annual party known as Carnival. By the end of the fourth day, I was exhausted and needed a vacation from my vacation. I had heard about a hostel located farther up the coast in the middle of the jungle. I wanted to get away from metropolitan cities for a while. I thought it’d be a nice place to spend a few days regenerating before continuing on my journey.
The hostel was located in a small coastal town called Buritaca. Getting there by bus proved to be a little challenging. I had to ask several different people where to find a bus headed in the direction of Buritaca. Finally, I ended up at the “bus station” which was just a street lined with buses. I got on a bus I was 75 percent sure would take me where I wanted to go, hoping for the best. After about two hours, the bus dropped me off on the side of the road in front of a sign that read, “Rancho Relaxo”. The name threw me for a loop. I couldn’t tell if the name was a joke or not.
Visiting the Amazon had been highly recommended to me, although I wasn’t exactly a fan of the idea. Having grown up in a city, I much prefer cities to the countryside, or in this case, the jungle. When I pictured the Amazon, I thought of crazy heat and humidity, mosquitoes, giant spiders, and sleeping under mosquito nets in dirty beds or hammocks. I was in Thailand two years earlier and I had a less than fortunate experience on a jungle trekking tour. We rode bamboo rafts in a snake infested river that I fell into not once but twice. Soaking wet, we trekked up into the humid jungle for the next 4 hours. When we finally reached our camp for the night, we were starving but we were only fed rice. In addition, the group had to sleep outside on wooden boards with moldy blankets. Since that traumatizing experience, I haven’t wanted to do anything remotely similar. This time, one of my goals was to really push myself, face my fears, and experience the unfamiliar.
After spending two weeks in Colombia’s capital, Bogota, I flew to a small city called Leticia located between the borders of Colombia, Peru, and Brazil. There isn’t much to Leticia and its main industry is tourism. The city is small with a downtown consisting of a few streets lined with tour agencies and stores selling cheap plastic items made in China. Having come all the way to the Amazon, I didn’t want to spend my time in Leticia. I wanted to get into the real jungle. After spending a few days in Leticia, I booked a two-day Amazon jungle tour.