There was another thunderstorm the second night, which had quietened to drizzle by the morning. Although we’d hung our clothes indoors, the air was so heavy with water they were just as wet as as when we’d hung them.
This whole holiday revolved around water; the water in our apartment that was turned off the day we left; the flight delayed by rain; the river we swam in every day; the roses growing in a drought; the scientist protecting Colombia’s coffee industry from drought and deluge; the coastal hotel we were staying in; the snorkelling in the mangroves of Parque Utria, the whale watching we’d come to Nuqui for; and now this, our damp clothes and clammy skin.
After breakfast, we set off along the coast in the opposite direction, away from the Park, this time towards Guachalito, a series of small beaches. And on the journey, we finally got to do some whale watching. The whales were majestic, a giant mother and calf spurting plumes of mist with every breath. We were supposed to keep our distance, to avoid spoiling the mood (they are, after all, here to mate), but ended up getting so close that at one point it looked like they’d barge right into us. They stuck around for half a dozen breaths, then we lost them.
At Guachalito, Mum and I slowly swam out to an island and back, enjoying the calm water until I got stung by a jellyfish. There was a small surfboard rental further along, so Lily, Pablo and I gave it a go. I managed to stand on my second wave, and broke the board on my fourth. It really is time for me to lose some weight. I promised to pay for the board’s replacement, and we set off again, pausing only to buy some more biche (cheap but delicious, and strong, Colombian moonshine).
Apparently we were neither wet nor warm enough, so we stopped in Nuqui to go to some thermals. We left town on a dirt path that doubled as a tsunami evacuation route. The street dogs we passed all had long ears, and Lily noted that in Caño Cristales they’d all had long bodies. If you let all the dogs in the world breed with each other for generations, would they breed back to their original form?
While thinking about genetics, a kid wandered by us holding a stick as if it were a rifle, gleefully making tak tak tak tak noises. My mind turned to the usual nonsense about whether we’re all doomed as a species because we love to fight. Then we got to the thermals.
The thermals (in a small town called Termales) were, indeed, wet and warm. I seriously don’t know why people make such a fuss about hot water. Especially not when you’re on the equator. Madness. You’re just cooking a human soup. It’s like a bath, just in public, and with water that makes your skin itch.
On the way back home we managed to do a bit more whale watching, this time even more spectacular. The humpback whales were far more playful than the first we’d seen. They leapt, they twirled, they made a splash, and I failed to get anything on camera. Again, we came way closer than the guidebooks said we were allowed. We weren’t complaining – it was brilliant seeing them play. Happy and fulfilled, we returned to the hotel.
And that was it, the holiday was over. There was just one more thing to do: return to Bogotá and vote.