Hello hello, after a few weeks back home and in Scotland for Christmas and New Year and more adventures currently underway in New Zealand it’s about time I update you all of my final few weeks in Sout America. After seeing Niki off from the beachside airport I had no plans…but it went something like this.
While in Peru a friend I met raved about Freediving, the sport where you submerge under water to depth on one breath. His stories stuck in my mind so when I heard the Colombian record holder for freediving runs introductory courses my ears perked up. I did the course over 3 days, covering some theory, confined water breath holding and then two open water sessions in Tanganga bay. For the open water sessions I joined up with another guy doing the course, What are the chances, he was Irish and we have mutual friends from our swimming days!
The first open water session we went to a maximum of 20m with the free immersion technique (pulling rope, no kicking allowed) and constant weight (kicking with fins).
There’s a bit to think about, or a lot of awareness involved anyway. Equalising your ears can be tricky at depth and remaining calm and in control is essiential because however deep you go there is only one way up. They say it’s a sport that is 30% physical and 70% mental. Loss of consciousness and blackouts are common due to lack of oxygen to the brain so it’s pretty serious.
For the last session we focused on the free immersion rope pulling technique. After a few warm up dives to 10m it was time to push it a little, so next up was a 27.5m dive and then the goal of getting to the bottom of the line which I managed with effort and reached 33.4m. It is a pretty scary feeling when you feel the need to breath but know you have quite a way to go before surfacing.
Here’s a video Sean made on his go pro, a mix of clips, excuse the dramatic music!
During and after the course I enjoyed kicking about Santa Marta, it’s a gritty city in places but fun and chaotic… a good mx if you ask me! For the same reasons it’s not too touristy, another good thing.
With time ticking before my flight back home I spent my last night in the north of Colombia in Minca in casa elemento, a super and popular hostel which is actually run by my friend Jean from university. It was good catching up on 5 years since I had seen her and to see the very cool award winning hostel.
So with my flight home fast approaching I needed to make tracks in the direction of Bogota. I chose Barichara as my last place to visit, a little village where I spent two peaceful days hiking, picking up some presents and kicking about with my camera in hand.
I arrived in Bogotá two days before my flight and had a really fun last two days with my Australian friend Claire, some Christmas shopping and lots of eating. On my last night we went out for dinner but ended up eating pizza and drinking beer at a plaza with crowds of people and cyclists who were out for a pro bike, roller blade, skateboard movement. It was a fun way to spend my last night, chatting with locals and soaking up the energy.
I think some time to reflect on the trip will be good, it was full of challenges, excitment, adventure, great people and some loneliness too. All in all and despite the challenges it was an incredible journey. The continent is bursting with culture, chaos is part of every day, it’s normal. It’s a different world, less conventional, more opportunities in some respects, less in others. Woman are treated differently, equality is a long way off and poverty is rife. Child labour to varying degrees is commonplace and governments take corruption to another level. Being green isn’t much of a thing, rubbish is thrown out bus windows and into the sea. However the land and landscapes are incredible, trees hanging with ripe mangoes, avocados, bananas, coffee plants, cocao, exotic flowers, spuds of every variety. Mountain ranges, coastlines, glaciers, valleys, waterfalls. And the people, from the timid Bolivians, the open and social Argentinians, the beautiful Peruvians to the warm and friendly Colombians. Not to mention all the lovely travellers I met from all over the world.
After a lovely Christmas at home I spent an awesome New Years in Fortwilliam, Scotland, and rang the new year in with a wild Ceilí, great tunes and the best of friends. I’m now in New Zealand and plan to update the blog at some point. It will be a completely different adventure but I am welcoming something fun and less challenging than a solo trip in South America.
Until the next time amigos,
Suerte y amor para el neuvo año,