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El Río Verde en Colombia! Part One...

Posted: 11.10.2014 by Hannah Kertesz

Paddling in Colombia

A few weeks ago, I bought a one way ticket to Medellín, Colombia. Only knowing the stories my high school Spanish teacher (Capo Rettig) and Jules Domine had told me, I was more than excited to explore the rivers in Colombia for myself.

I arrived in Medellín on Thursday night (11/6) and the next day I was hiking through the jungle towards my first Colombian river - el río verde!

We drove 2 hours outside Medellín to a village called San Francisco.  Not exactly the same as the San Fran we all know.  The streets are narrow and more populated with donkeys and horses than with cars.  Jules met up with his friend who owns a hardware store full of machetes, etc and arranged for a shuttle driver.  We packed in with the driver and continued down a dirt road through San Fran, pushing through the herds of donkeys.

We came to a fork in the road where a trail started down into a valley.  The hike started out hot and humid and continued to get worse.  I felt strong carrying my loaded boat but I was shaking from the heat within the first hour.  Jules and the boys had warned me on the drive about how savage the hike in was - I didn't expect it to be as hard as it was.  The trails tapered into muddy creeks the further we got into the jungle.  Donkeys, cowboys on horses, and little kids all passed me as I was struggling - they weren't even phased and I was just a hot mess! It's crazy to think the kids who live in this valley use the same trail everyday to get to school.

It's funny now that I took this photo in the beginning of the hike - I had no idea how much harder it would get!  Makes me laugh to see this now...

After 2 hours, we finally made it to the confluence of the Santo Domingo and Mecotcho.  The best feeling was taking my shoes off and jumping into the water!  Once we had  re-grouped we jumped in our boats and ran the first few rapids.

It felt good to finally be in my kayak - something familiar when I'm so far from home.  We paddled further into the jungle through some class III-IV boulder gardens and eventually eddied out to set up camp.  I was tucked under my tarp and in my hammock just in time for the rain to fall, chorizo and veggies in my belly.

More stories to come from this adventure...