Lost in Tayrona Park, Santa Marta, Colombia


Eventually we clamber to the summit of the tree-laden mountain side, stopping to catch our breath and consider our limited options. I check my watch, its 1:00pm. The blistering sun continues to penetrate in its merciless fashion while dehydration has already begun to creep surreptitiously upon us after the last droplets of water are consumed. It is at this point all three of us realize that we horribly lost, and have been for quite some time.

Not only have we been fruitlessly trekking Tayrona’s National Park for six hours in the vain hope of finding monkeys, but we have also missed our arrival time at the next village by three hours and the path we were once following is nowhere to be seen.

We must, however, push on. Mark hands me a stick to waft in front of my face to prevent spiders jumping into my hair as I am unwillingly elected leader.

I set off down the side of the mountain crunching over leaves, swatting away invisible webs and sliding down slippery rock faces, all the while sweating so much that my soaked shirt hangs off me like an over-sized dressing gown.

The more we trek the deeper we find ourselves in this unforgiving forest, until after an hour or so more we encounter a stream which I mention could be a good idea to follow. I recall a similar tip being touted on a nature documentary and feel confident it will lead us to some sort of civilization.

Progress is slow as the shallow water becomes increasingly difficult to pass with fallen trees, boulders and larger-than-I-would-like spiders hindering our progress. Rather predictably we soon come to a complete dead-end in the shape of a giant moss-covered boulder.

The only option is to go over and as leader I go first. I tightly secure my backpack before finding enough leverage to somehow slowly drag my exhausted body onto the top of the boulder. After laying face down on its surface for a minute to regain my breath I get to my feet and jump down the other side, landing knee-first into some muddy water.

Standing up and looking back I notice that the underside of the rock is moving. I realize to my horror that its surface is alive with a dozen-or-so long-legged spiders the size of my grandmother’s dinner plates.

Suddenly one scampers down the side of the rock, runs over the shallow water and disappears behind a log. My body shivers in terror.

Harriet meanwhile stands at the top poised to jump.

“What is it, why are you looking like that?” she asks.

But before I can answer she interrupts. “In fact don’t even tell me, I really don’t want to know.”

Harriet and then Mark complete rather more gracious jumps and we turn to face the sinister spiders crawling up, around and over the rock. Our bodies tense up as we grip each other tightly. Too tired to scream we silently agree to move on.



S Willis

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