Who has not been to one of the many “Ends of the World”? Ushuaia claims that title as many other places, but here on the tip of La Guajira, at the northernmost point of South America, it feels absolutely real.
For seven hours our fourteen year old Land Cruiser swayed and jolted through the rough terrain, following this or that track. The landscape is wild, nothing but cactuses and green low-growing trees, called “Trupio”, the only vegetation that seems to survive in this hot, very dry land. Every now and then a single hut could be seen, the home of a Wayuu family, who persistently cling to the land of their ancestors. Skinny goats roam the land and funnily, we also spotted a few wooly sheep in this heat. Once in a while we saw children carrying water in plastic canisters from a well to their hut.
Suddenly, in the late afternoon, the driver stopped on a ridge, next to two adobe dwellings. We had arrived at Bahia Hondita. Beyond us laid an incredible beautiful beach, golden sand bordered by emerald green water. The huts, the home of our driver’s family, are the only two buildings there. A few other families live around the bay, but far apart from each other, although many are related.
A hammock was hung up for each of us under a thatched roof and that was all there was to our moving in. A bit further away were two small brick cubicles, each a shower and toilet, hilariously one for men the other for women. We were fed red snapper and once the temperature became manageable we set out to explore the beach below.
Later on, we were shown the spot where each family has its own well. These are round cemented holes closed with a lid and locked with a padlock. Crystal clear water can be found relatively close to the surface here.
Just before sunset an American and Italian couple arrived in a jeep and after a short chat we all slid in our comfortable wide hammocks. Above us the sky was sparkling with all the stars there are, the Milky Way was strikingly near, an experience that will remain engrained in our memories forever.
Lulled into a peaceful sleep by the surf, the awakening was dramatic. At 4 o’clock, the big and heavy roof of the neighboring construction suddenly collapsed, burying the two couple sleeping in hammocks underneath. All we heard were muffled noises, shuffling movements in the sand. It took awhile to realize what had happened. Luckily only one person was lightly injured and driven to a rural doctor one hour away. Once it got light we checked the damage and realized how lucky the guys were: if the broken, splintered beam had hit somebody on the head or the stomach, it would have meant six hours on a bumpy dirt track to reach a provincial hospital, not a preferred option.
The next morning we set out for Taroa Beach, which even outdid Bahia Hondita. High-towering dunes roll into long stretches of golden sandy beaches. Naturally we tumbled, ran and slid down the dunes. Climbing up was less fun though. It was just us, and nobody anywhere near us. When our driver left for an hour to pick something up from his family, we even felt abandoned for a brief moment. There was no way we would have found our way around in this deserted, scorching hot wilderness.
That’s actually the only downside – there is only so much time you can spend on the beach without any vegetation whatsoever to provide shade.
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