Saturday, January 5, 2008

Paradise: Day 4

Thankfully, the rain had tapped lightly on our tents but stopped soon after. This morning the sun was out, and the tight, windowless confines of our tent felt like an oven on low heat. So although there was no precipitation to soak us, I woke up in a sticky film of sweat- just one night of normal temperatures is all I asked of the gods now. A quick swim took the place of a shower, and after breakfast we hiked through the dry rainforest to the nudie beach, where I could make use of the bodyboard I had been dutifully hauling around for the past few days.

Even when it didn't rain, the tent threatened to leak.

The idea that a nudie beach in South America existed was new to us, we’d been told that they didn’t exist, and for one to exist in image-conscious Colombia, where people are always meticulously turned out, was surprising (I remember the beggars in Nieva that were dressed better than me). The beach was filled mainly with creatively groomed naked men cartwheeling explicitly down the sand to cavort gaily in the shorebreak. It seemed that even when naked, Colombians take as much control over their appearance as nature will allow. We also saw a pair of enhanced women sunbathing, wearing only g-strings and small rubber daisies (one hot pink, one flesh coloured) over their nipples.

Although there were some powerful waves, they weren’t really suitable for surfing, so we pounded our bodies in the heaving shorebreak. The water was on the cold side of lukewarm, and it was filled with tiny gold-coloured flecks. When a wave broke, it would stir up the particles, producing millions of shimmering points of light in the turbulence. It was like swimming in a sea of snow globe liquid, completely unlike anything I’ve bathed in before. Emerging from the sea, our bodies were covered in gold sparkling under a yellow sun, and this idea of paradise was finally starting to take shape.

After a long day in the sun, we ate and retired, once again; a campsite singalong was in progress. With no rainfall to wash away the noise, Angie lay awake while I dozed away the day’s sun. Gradually the participants dwindled, but there was one husky voice that powered on regardless of the time. When the group got down to two, they finally stopped the beating of their drums, but, much to the dismay of a wide-awake Angie, moved to a spot behind our tent and proceeded to get into a long, loud conversation. Angie gave them a vicious staredown, but even that couldn’t stop the chatter.

Contorted and lying there awake (I was now conscious), sleep seemed impossibility. It was all too much for Angie, who after more staring, stormed off into the night, where she found an empty hammock. In a moment she later described as the happiest of the trip, she snuggled in with her sleeping bag. Soon after, the rain started, and a security guard appeared to inform her that she could not stay in her new bed. More than a little disgruntled, she returned, and we once again slept uncomfortably under the threat of waking up drenched in the morning.

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