March 2022

Tale 05:
Of Lost Cities & Salmonella
(Colombia travel diary pt. 4/5)

Minca / Ciudad Perdida / Medellin

I am writing this from a co working place in Medellin. I am slowly recovering from the last week but I am not quite myself yet. What happened?

As planned, I spent a couple of days in Minca. What a beautiful little village. Jungle, waterfalls, sunsets, great food… what else can I say? I spent most nights at Jungle Joes hostel outside the village with a beautiful view and the best breakfast in Minca. Google Maps had me lost looking for the place for over 30min, trying to send me into … nothing? No path, no climbing wall, just nothing. I was saved by three Americans having the same problem. We got picked up by a friendly local in his pickup truck who brought us back to town. Another 30 minute walk and we arrived. We got along great and explored some of the area together over the next days. Between work sessions, there was always time for some food or little adventures. We got invited to an artists house in Minca who is both musician and circus artist and a social worker in town. I don´t think I have ever seen a more magical house in my life. Another quick stop in Santa Marta and off deep into the jungle. The “lost city” treck (ciudad perdida) was waiting. One of the Americans, Sarah, booked the same treck and we went together. The lost city was discovered (so not lost anymore) and exploited in the 70s by a group of treasure hunters. In the 80s and 90s a group of archeologists rediscovered and conserved the remains and tours for tourists started being offered.

Day 01

08:00: Meetup, waiting.
10:00: Still waiting.
Colombian time says when you meet at 08:30, you get going at 10:30. I don´t mind. We are 10 people from all over the world plus a cook, a translator and a guide from the local tribe who calls himself Luis. Two jeeps drive us into the jungle for two hours and we feast on rice and beans. The cook adapts to vegetarians like me and people with allergies well.

It starts to rain just as we wanted to start our adventure around 13:00. We quickly covered our backpacks with trashbags and went our way in good spirit. It doesn´t really matter if you get wet from rain from the outside or sweat from the inside. It´s unbelievably humid and hot. After an hour of steep paths and puddles, we take a first break for some fresh melons. I brought a bunch of cereal and protein bars but resist the urge to eat them all.

We arrive at the first camp at around 16:30. We are soaking wet but happy, the view is great and the cook is preparing dinner. Usually the portions in Colombia are always a little small for my hungry belly. But he makes great big portions. I like him.

A little yoga and a Colombian card game later we go to bed at 21:00 when the generators are turned off and it gets pitch dark. We sleep under a simple roof in simple bunkbeds with mosquito nets..

Day 02

05:00: Wake up.

05:30: Breakfast (arepas and eggs).

06:00: Leaving camp.
We have 10 hours of hiking ahead of us and no time to lose. We head deeper into the jungle, 16km through bushes, mud and rivers. I love it. We got lucky with the weather but end up drenched in sweat anyways when we arrived at a camp for lunch. We wash the sweat and dirt of our skin in a river. Some in the group are exhausted already but Luis pushes us to get going. We want to arrive at the night camp before nightfall. I get impatient as well.. waiting was never a strength of mine. The next 4 hours of constant leg and butt workout show that not all of us are equally made for this. I am a little surprised (and a little proud) to be one of the fitter ones. I make friends with Niko, a Canadian nature enthusiast. We are usually a little ahead of the group and ready to go before most of the others.

The whole group made it to camp before nightfall and after dinner we gather around a fire to listen to Luis tell stories about the indigenous ways of the Wiwa tribe. I get frustrated with the ignorance of a small portion of the group and make that clear. Even though some of the traditions are foreign to us, I can´t stand people laughing at it. After that little hick up, the evening turned out beautiful and Nico, Sarah, Luis and I spend some more time talking around the fire after the lights are out. We have to find our beds in the complete dark which was harder than expected.

Day 03

05:00: Wake up.

05:30: Breakfast.

06:00: Leaving camp.

In the morning, the legs are still heavy and it´s not that easy to get out of bed anymore and into pants that are still wet from the day before. But it´s the day we are supposed to find the lost city which increases motivation. One hour up the mountain, one hour down to mountain to a bridge. Wait… which bridge? What used to be a bridge is just a bit of scrap wood kept together by a rope and is swimming in the river. The rain of the last days was a little too much for it. To be honest, I would not have trusted the bridge if it was still bridging. The alternative: A contraption of a steal rope and a cage high above the river. We pull ourselves across only to face the next challenge: 1.600 steps that lead us to Ciudad Perdida. Once on top of the mountain, we are rewarded with a magnificent view. The weather is on our side and while we listen to our guide explain the history of this magical place, our clothes dry in the sun. We connect with a small other group whose guide is the son of one of the first treasure hunters to discover this place. He shares some of his most fascinating tales, like the one where he was kidnapped by a group of guerilla fighters on his very first tour. Many stories and historical facts later, we prepare to head back to camp. We gather our things, take a short rest, eat and after another few hours arrive at our destination for the night. I am not hungry, which is strange.


Instead, I get a strange feeling in my stomach and within minutes I start shivering. The next hours I spend in an improvised bathroom in the middle of the Colombian jungle. I spend the night half asleep. Shit. Literally.

Day 04

05:00: Wake up.

05:30: Breakfast (arepas and eggs)

06:00: Leaving camp.

My condition is only a little better, probably because I lost all my insides over the last couple of hours. I leave out breakfast, take a pill to help with the fever, make myself an electrolyte drink and tell myself to power through. It´s mostly downhill from here. I am only semi conscious for some interesting views and moments (for example when a tarantula the size of a hand tried to climb up the pants of a Dutch guy) and make it down 10h later as one of the first. I was fast because I really, really, really wanted it to be over. Considering the circumstances, I was happy. I leave out the last meal and drinks and fall sleep on the bus back.



Sarah, Nico and I had the same flight the next day so we stuck together. We all went to Medellin and went our separate ways there. I took a single room in a small hostel to recover. My stomach is still horribly unwell and I can not keep food down at all. At least the fever is better but I feel weak. I work a little and sleep a lot.

To be continued…


(translated from a travel-diary I made for my family)