The highlight of our afternoon was finding a sloth hanging from a tree. We all stopped our tubes and got out of the water to admire the world’s laziest animal. Johan tried shaking the tree to get it to fall out, but it seemed pretty secure. When he picked up some rocks to throw, Karina stopped him. Not sure what his intentions were. We were all charmed by how cute the animal was, but Johan declared it was even better on a plate. Maybe he just wanted to show us the sloth up close, but I’m guessing he’d have gotten it for dinner if we weren’t around.
Earlier in the day, looking over from the top of one of the waterfalls, Johan told us we could dive in and he often did. None of us dared, and we were sceptical since he didn’t dive either. The water looked shallow. But halfway through the tubing we all took a break and watched him dive from ridiculous heights. When he landed in the water he never seemed to get to any depth, shooting forwards rather than down, it was quite impressive.
At the end of the day we went to have a beer at a local port city. Buenaventura was referred to as “Colombia’s Most Violent City” by the Economist as recently as 2014. Our van was stopped at a military checkpoint before we were allowed to enter. The checkpoints are common in Colombia, but this one looked more secure than usual. The soldier questioning Karina was wearing protection that looked explosion proof. I’d never seen anything like it, it was as if he had giant metallic pillows surrounding his whole body. I imagine he must sweat for hours in his body armour. He was keen to know what we were doing and where we were going. Karina told him we were going to the port and asked if it was safe. He said the port was fine, but recommended that we didn’t go anywhere else. My theory is that the port is safe because that’s where all the cocaine leaves from, so the cartels don’t want to draw any attention to it, but it could be thanks to military intervention, or both.
One beer and sunset later, a quick trip to the bathroom, and we headed back to Cali. It was a nightmare journey, with trucks with no drivers blocking up our entire side of the road, and endless traffic. At one tollbooth there were three people working for just our gate. Two ladies in the booth, and one man outside to wave us through. As if we would go in the wrong direction if he wasn’t there to point out that the opened gate in front of us was where we were supposed to go. A testament to cheap and inefficient labour, considering the job can be done by a machine, or at least just one person. Thanks to the traffic, we didn’t get back until around 10:30pm, then we had a quick dinner, and back to crash at the hostel.