The following day was the walking tour to El Cielo; this could be the only opportunity I ever have to go to heaven so I was looking forward to it. We left after breakfast and were given the opportunity of either walking all the way or hiring a horse. We asked our daughter what she wanted to do and she decided she wanted to walk. I think her decision was based mainly on the fact that she had never ridden a horse and close up they looked very big.
We set off from the hotel, along the beach and through the town towards the airport. As we were walking alongside the airport our daughter decided that maybe it would be better to hire a horse and luckily the boys who were renting them were walking with us and there were still a few horses without riders so she was helped on to one off she went, the horse being guided by one of the local boys.
After passing the airport the path winded its way through the vegetation that surrounded the town and after about half an hour we came to a tree that grew over a stream. The roots of the tree formed a small cave in the bank of the brook into which it was possible to enter and this was obviously one of the highlights of the walk as we were all invited to enter the cave and take photographs.
I wasn't that keen on the idea as the last time I had been on a horse was when I was fourteen, at a Butlin's holiday camp in Minehead, England. I remember as clear as if it was yesterday that the instructor asked if I wanted to go a bit faster, I had said yes and the horse started to trot before breaking into a canter. Unfortunately the girl hadn't done the girth up tight enough and the saddle started to move slowly around the horse until I was riding at such an angle that it was impossible to stay on and to the girls horror, and mine also, I fell off.
Anyway I plucked up courage and asked the boy if it would be okay, he said yes and immediately helped me up onto the horse. I didn't think it would be too bad as the boy was leading the horse. Here most people, even young children seem to be able to control a horse and to my horror, he assumed that since I was now on the horse there was no need for him to lead it anymore. He gave me the reins and before I could muster up enough courage and the correct Spanish to tell him I had no idea how to control a horse, he disappeared.
At first I was a little perturbed, which is a euphemism for scared to death, but as we moved slowly along the, at times, quite narrow path I realised that the horse was docile and seemed to respond to the movements that I was making with the reins. Actually the horse probably knew the route so well that it didn’t matter much what I did.
The path became more rugged and at times we had to go down steep banks to cross the river, which winded itself around the path, and soon even this manoeuvre became fairly easy. To say that I was impressed with my riding skills would be a dramatic understatement and when we reached our final destination and it was time to return I felt quite sad that it was now my wife's turn to control the horse.
We had to walk very slowly as the rock beneath the water was very slippery in places, but luckily no one fell or hurt themselves. At the other end of the gorge there was a pool and a waterfall at the side of which, a rope ran along the bare rock to help those people who wished, to climb to the final stage where at the top of the waterfall there was another rock pool.
Only about half of us climbed up the slippery rock to the top only to find the other rock pool was very much like the one below. Why I was expecting it to be different, I don't know. The pools were deep enough to swim in, though not for any great distance. The return journey took around four hours and was thoroughly enjoyable though not as incredible as I had expected having spoken the day before to a couple from Cali who had already been on the walk and had described it using adjectives such as excellent, unbelievable and spectacular.
Sometimes I think that the more one travels, the harder it becomes to be impressed. For me the walk (and ride) was enjoyable just for the fact that we were in the countryside with all that goes with it, and though the views were nothing special it was great to breath in fresh air and feel close to nature, the older I get the more I hate the big cities.
The airport police at Capurganá opened everybody's suitcase, what they thought we could be smuggling back to Medellin I have no idea, maybe towels from the hotel or sand from the beach, who knows. The plane eventually arrived and we stood in line to board it, as I was about to start climbing up the steps the lady from the craft shop ran up to me and pressed the necklace I had been looking at into my hand, I thanked her and boarded the plane.
The flight back was without incident, though I was a little worried when I saw the co-pilot studying a map, then looking out the window and then back at the map again, however after a few minutes he seemed to be satisfied that we were travelling in the right direction and put the map back in its place between him and the pilot.