Colombia, July 2009, San Andres island, part 2

October 15, 2009 at 8:50 pm

After another incredibly mediocre breakfast (translation :’ we taste some of it’) we spend the morning walking around the town. Our goals, once more, are to call our daughter in Israel, and mail a postcard. You would think these to be realistic goals, and you’d be wrong. We fail hopelessly on both fronts agreeing it must surely be easier in Cartagena, our next destination. It’s a beautiful day and the water looks magnificent, but we can’t swim. Yesterday, while at Johnny Cay, Benjy, our son, suddenly started chafing  and hurting from the sea water. It happened a year earlier in Honduras and we didn’t give it much further thought, but here we are 50 meters from the most incredible water you can imagine, and we’re walking around luggage and duty free stores. We went from paradise to misery in about 10 seconds. It’s one of those things  about traveling with kids. Things can change very quickly, so best be on your guard. You think you’d get used to it, but no, it’s always a bit of a shock. I don’t mean the little things that happened when our kids were really young – your 4 year old throwing up all over you on a plane (although that didn’t seem little at the time, in fact it was downright unpleasant) – but rather when your plans, made months in advance, just nosedive. This wasn’t part of my Colombia trip master plan, but we’ll deal with it.

We decide to go to our next hotel, the Cocoplum. As you may recall, I’d decided we’d spend 2 days in the town and 2 outside of town so that we’d have a good mix of town distractions and perfect location. We’re not that excited by moving as we love the beach here, but apparently we’re off to the nicest beach on the island. The route there doesn’t suggest that in the slightest and we’re surprised when our taxi pulls off in the middle of nowhere but we’ll reserve judgement for a few minutes.

The staff is very friendly – our room is not ready but they’ll let us use another (we would have loved that a few times in London and some other places) – so we go down to the beach. It’s distressingly disappointing, even if it didn’t have the reputation. The sea is dirty and the small beach is covered with seaweed. I’m totally devastated – I’m a perfectionist trip planner and have been so clever here, and it looks like a total failure. Mostly I feel for my eleven year old who is now ready to swim but doesn’t feel like it. For a few minutes we consider leaving, but just go to the beachside restaurant and have lunch instead. My wife and son try cheer me up – they know I’m upset – and we decide to head back to town – all of ten minutes by taxi- to swim there in the afternoon.

It’s beautiful and we have a wonderful time. They say San Andres has seven colors of water and we’re swimming in at least three of them. Then, after a couple of hours it starts raining, hard. Within a couple of minutes it’s a tropical downpour and I’m the only person in the water. My family’s taken cover but my son runs back to tell me something about my sandals, very expensive orthopedic ones which along with my orthotics for my running shoes are the only pieces of luggage I ever care about (well I care if we buy some really good chocolate). He’s worried they’ll blow away so I charge out to huddle under some cover with half the island.

When the rain stops, we’re soaked so we go look for towels. Instead we buy some cheap t-shirts which do a great job. They don’t appear too durable – in fact mine is now smaller than my son’s because of laundry related injuries- but they’re great for a couple of days.

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