Today we headed off to Puerto Gaitan, a small town on the Meta River and a launching point for boat trips to see the famed Pink River Dolphins. Puerto Gaitan is pretty much the end of the road for most tourists as the security situations gets murky as one heads further into the Llanos and towards Venezuela due to guerilla presence in the area.
One of the great things about traveling in Colombia is that it is rare to see other foreigners in many places and Puerto Gaitan was no acception. We, along with another Colombian couple, were the only tourists here, period. We got into our boat and headed about 20 minutes up river to where dolphin sightings are most common. Our boat driver seemed to want to make sure that the ride was comparable to one at an amusement park and drove full speed over another boat´s wake leaving us flying out of our seats. During our ride, we came upon several military boats with soldiers patrolling the area in full camouflage gear, a reminder that this area has seen much strife.
We arrived at our destination in the river but there were no dolphins to be found. Our driver was detirmined to see some dolphins so we spent a good half hour just hanging out in the area, hoping for the best. Meanwhile, the sky had turned ominously black and we knew that we were about to experience a tropical downpour.
The rains did not disappoint! It poured! The temperature dropped about 20 degrees in what seemed like an instant as the rain pelted us and water flooded the boat. I have to confess that I wasn´t enjoying this much until my friend, who was traveling with us, said, Ïsn´t this rain just beautiful?¨ I stopped and realized that it´s all a matter of perspective. Yes, the rain was beautiful, the river was beautiful, being able to be in this corner of the Earth where so few tourists venture was beautiful, having a friend who could inspire me to see the beauty of this moment was beautiful. To me, this is what it felt like to be fully alive!
Just as I was pondering our good fortune, the rain slowed down to a drizzle and a few Pink River Dolphins came out to play. They swam all around us and dove out of the water playfully. My friend and her daughter got out of the boat and ran around the muddy river bank to celebrate. It was magical!