Santa Marta and PN Tayrona, Colombia

The Paradise from which Simon Bolivar departed

Tayrona fashion hotel
Guests on the veranda of cabins at the Eco-Habs lodge, installed on a slope of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.
Tayrona's friends
Felipe Guerrero and Vittoria Serra and another friend live near Playa Cañaveral.
Tropical donkey
Donkey at the edge of the Caribbean Sea.
hasty departure
Colombians from the Santa Marta area set sail from a nearby beach on the verge of a tropical storm.
makeshift shelter
Young crew member of a speedboat transporting the area, sheltered from the rain.
To attack
Painting with a naive scene from the battle of Carabobo, one of the most striking for Bolivar's objectives.
Colombia al Libertador
Family about to enter the memorial to Simón Bolívar erected at Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino.
La Bendicion of Dios
Chiva (old bus) catches the attention of some bathers.
In honor of the Liberator
Statue of Simón Bolivar, "El Libertador" highlighted in a garden of Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino.
of school visit
Children next to the monument in honor of the Liberator Simón Bolívar of Quinta de San Pedro Alexandrino.
the Colombian Caribbean
One of PN Tayrona's many paradise coves.
At the gates of PN Tayrona, Santa Marta is the oldest continuously inhabited Hispanic city in Colombia. In it, Simón Bolívar began to become the only figure on the continent almost as revered as Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary.

We arrived at the sandy beach of Cañaveral beach, worn out by the long walk, drenched in sweat, with a clear objective.

Let go of the backpacking stuff that was pressing down on our shoulders, take off our scant clothing, and duck into the emerald-colored water just a few steps away. We were already rehearsing the dives in the warm sea of ​​the Tayrona National Park when we were surprised by its strange diagonal flow.

Annoyed, we aborted the submersion to inspect a wooden sign stuck in the vicinity. "Swimming prohibited. Don't be part of the statistics.” it stood out from the long message. For good connoisseurs, four or five words were enough.

And they force us to walk an additional half a mile.

Santa Marta, Tayrona, Simón Bolivar, Friends of Tayrona

Felipe Guerrero and Vittoria Serra and another friend live near Playa Cañaveral.

In this last stretch, we come across three young bathers in an obvious way of bathing relaxation.

They share tropical fruit on a wooden bench in the shade of the jungle.

In the immediate vicinity, a gray donkey tied to a log seems to want to make sense of the noise of its laughter and our unexpected passage.

Tropical donkey

Donkey at the edge of the Caribbean Sea.

In simple bathing suits and with a light soul of worries, Felipe Guerrero and Vittoria Serra are also surprised by the weight we were carrying and the discomfort that by then it was impossible for us to hide: "Are you doing any penance?" asks the Creole boy.

The explanation led to a curious and endless conversation that, at a certain point, we thought it best to cut short or we would never find ourselves in the water again.

We continued to a cove named Piscinita, which finally granted us the desired reward.

the Colombian Caribbean

One of PN Tayrona's many paradise coves.

We walked through the last northern lands of South America, tucked between the Caribbean Sea and the leafy edge of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.

Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Tayrona and the Landing of the Spanish Conquistadors

They were the same lush and leafy lands where the Spanish conquerors landed, shortly after Columbus came across several islands in the Caribbean Sea and the Yucatan peninsula.

A mere 42 dizzying kilometers inland, the inaugural mountains of that Andean range rose an impressive 5.700 meters in altitude.

Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, PN Tayrona, Guardians of the World, Colombia

View from the low slopes of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, the coastline that rises the fastest from the coast in the world, from sea level to 5700m from the Cristobal Colón and Simón Bolivar peaks.

Throughout the year, this insurmountable barrier blocked the masses of warm, humid air sucked up from the sea by the equatorial heat. Almost without exception, the pressure cooker that was cooking us, burst with great drama and roar as soon as the sun began to fall on the vastness of the Pacific.

We hadn't even dried the salt water when we were surprised by the day's roaring deluge, which forced dozens of visitors to set sail earlier from the park's nearby beaches.

Santa Marta, Tayrona, Simón Bolivar, Hasty departure

Colombians from the Santa Marta area set sail from a nearby beach on the verge of a tropical storm.

The legs were weak from the long journey but we had to submit them to an even more strenuous return through the rain forest darkened by low clouds, a drenched and, in a short time, muddy return.

For centuries this region has been irrigated without mercy.

The first Spanish conquerors to anchor on these same coasts shared with the jungle, quickly became used to taking precautions and reacting to meteorological whims, such as the all-too-infernal mosquitoes and the resistance of native tribes.

Chairama, PN Tayrona, Guardians of the World, Colombia

Tayrona huts provide the preserved scenery of Chayrama.

Commanded by Rodrigo de Bastidas – in his Iberian life, a public scribe from the outskirts of Seville, later a member of the crew of Christopher Columbus' second voyage to the New World – they landed in the area in 1525.

Shortly thereafter, they founded Santa Marta.

The Arrival of Simón Bolivar via Santa Marta, from where He Never Came to Leave

In urban terms, this city seems to have been lost forever from almost half a millennium of history. Even so, we accepted his welcome for a few days, hoping that he would surprise us.

We soon confirmed that the most renowned of guests in Santa Marta has been, for decades, its main calling card.

By itself, his short and tragic presence greatly reinforced our interest in the capital of the Colombian department of Magdalena.

After the long Brave military campaign in which he successively triumphed over the Hispanic colonial forces, Simón Bolívar continued the independence struggle in the current territory of Colombia (then New Granada), in Ecuador and in modern-day northern Peru.

He followed the dream of creating a new nation left to its own destinies.

To attack

Painting with a naive scene from the battle of Carabobo, one of the most striking for Bolivar's objectives.

Simón Bolivar: from Military Triumphs to Independent Dynamics

He overcame the recurrent resistance of forces loyal to the Hispanic crown at the famous Battle of Carabobo, entered his hometown of Caracas, and in 1821, dictated the constitution of Gran Colombia, of which he was proclaimed president. Bolivar did not stop there.

Allied with General José de San Martin, another prominent and triumphant independence soldier in present-day Argentina and Chile, he led the fight to lands in southern Peru and Bolivia, later named in his honor.

Bolivar became, in fact, one of the few men to have inspired the nomenclature of a country.

These feats did not prevent internal divisions from undermining his dream. Nine years later, Gran Colombia imploded. It gave way to the republics of Venezuela, New Granada and Ecuador, soon given over to civil wars and other recurrent conflicts.

Bolivar gave up. Unwilling to live the failure of his ambitious life project, he planned to go into exile in Europe with a brief visit to Jamaica.

He had already sent several chests with belongings and was on his way to Cartagena de Indias where he planned to leave.

It never got there.

In honor of the Liberator

Statue of Simón Bolivar, “El Libertador” highlighted in a garden of Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino.

The narrative of its ascending phase and its moments of fall is evident in the property where its epic ended, illustrated by a collection of old paintings with subtitles, documents and official and personal objects.

It is, today, one of the most emblematic places in Colombia.

Visit him on excursions by restless students and students who thus begin or complete his Bolivarian doctrine, unavoidable in these parts of Latin America.

As the Founding Fathers is, further north, in Yankee lands, antagonists of the motherland of the South American Liberator have been for a long time now.

San Pedro Alejandrino, the Quinta de Santa Marta where Simón Bolivar Succumbed

Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino is a 20-minute bus ride from the Santa Marta beachfront.

When we visit it, we are forced to divide our attention between the antics of kids too young for that injection of history, politics and ideology and that same training that many infants try to evade.

Santa Marta, Tayrona, Simón Bolivar, Mausoleum

Memorial to Simón Bolívar erected at Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino.

We took a look at the hot seat where Bolivar arrived there, on a four-hour journey from Joaquim de Mier's house, from which he moved because the heat and hustle and bustle of the center of Santa Marta bothered him.

His solemn arrival forced changes and care, including the adaptation of a room that would protect him from the tobacco smoke produced by several of his companions and which irritated him.

Bolivar did not smoke. He was a Port wine lover. Neither one thing nor the other gave him the health he deserved. Shortly after settling in, symptoms of an abrupt illness appeared.

Her skin darkened, she lost a lot of weight, she suffered from exhaustion, she had headaches and she lost consciousness.

Fatal Tuberculosis whose Origin is Uncertain

He was diagnosed with tuberculosis.

This diagnosis is still the most accepted but some scholars deny it. This is the case of the American specialist in infectious diseases, Dr. Paul Awvaerter, who argues that Bolivar is more likely to have perished from arsenic poisoning.

In his opinion, it remains to be seen whether it was a simple incident or a murder. Paul Awvaerter contemplates both hypotheses.

He leans more towards the first: “Bolivar spent a lot of time in Peru. Several mummies with high levels of arsenic have been found there. At that time, some places in Peru had water with excessive amounts of this chemical. Simón Bolívar may have been drinking them for too long, which led to chronic poisoning.”

This hypothesis was immediately accepted by the still-living Hugo Chávez, assumed to be the number one admirer of Simón Bolívar, which he adapted as the main inspiration for his political struggle. “For years I had the conviction in my heart that Bolivar had neither left the government nor died from tuberculosis.

We have a moral obligation to clean up this lie. To open his sacrosanct coffin and check his remains.” Since then, Chávez has insisted on the theory that the author was a Colombian rival, Francisco de Santander, a close friend and ally of Bolivar before they got into conflict.

Until his death, Chávez continued to use the suspicion raised by Paul Awvaerter for the most diverse political purposes.

Santa Marta, Tayrona, Simón Bolivar, Mausoleum

Family about to enter the memorial to Simón Bolívar erected at Quinta de San Pedro Alejandrino.

As happened to Bolivar's ideal Gran Colombista and to the Libertador himself, his Bolivarian Revolution seems to have succumbed to his death.

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PN Tayrona, Colombia

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