During our two weeks in Colombia, Monday was the first time we feared for our lives. And it wasn’t because of some guerrilla drug-lord with a machine gun or someone off the streets flashing a machete while demanding all of our valuables. In fact, we were 60-feet underwater scuba diving. We’ve been diving with barracudas countless times over the last 8 years. They don’t scare us one bit. They usually just mind their own business and dart around in large schools. This big guy was different though. He was the largest one we’ve ever seen (6 – 8 feet long) and he was pissed or hungry or maybe both. He stared the dive master and us down and twirled around while opening his giant jaws showing all of his razor-like teeth. He wasn’t budging. Just floating in one spot and ready to pounce. I’m pretty sure we all almost wet our wetsuits! We all stayed very still and eventually swam away slowly. When we came to the surface, the dive master told us that he was about to take off his oxygen tank to barricade the impending attack. He said he’d never seen a barracuda do that. Unfortunately, the other dive group had the camera on this dive so we don’t have any photos of him.
That Great Barracuda wasn’t the only thing we saw during our first day of diving in Taganga. We saw a rock full of venomous but beautiful lion fish. Although they can be deadly, they are gorgeous with zebra-patterned long, flowing fins. We also encountered an octopus that shot out a big cloud of black-ink at us. I thought I’d seen two octopus but when we got on the boat Bryan and the dive master informed me it was the same one. He’d just changed from black to tan to match his surroundings. And of course we saw tons of huge moray eels, colorful fish, several venomous scorpion fish, beautiful coral formations, and some lobsters. When we were moving from one dive site to the other, our boat was surrounded by pilot whales. It was amazing! Taganga is by far the cheapest diving spot we’ve been to (almost half of what we normally pay for a dive). We went with the highly recommended dive company Aquantis. For two dives, all of the equipment, lunch, and our own dive master it was $60! www.aquantisdivecenter.com
Taganga is most known for it’s cheap diving, but it’s also a popular spot for backpackers. It’s a little fishing town set around a horseshoe-shaped bay and surrounded by mountains. The main strip along the water has a long line of tiki-hut restaurants and bars. We didn’t get a very good first impression of Taganga, probably because we arrived on a Sunday and the place was filled with people and litter. But after the weekend crowds cleared, we’ve come to like the little town during our 5-day stay. Too much trash is a reoccurring theme in our travels of Colombia. I know cleaning it all up is easier said than done but it would make such a huge difference. Occasionally you’ll see the roadside cleanup crews, but they’re going to need to bring in an army of these guys to tackle some areas. More upsetting to me than the trash, is the huge population of stray, breeding dogs. I would love to bring some vets in to spay, neuter, and bathe them all. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice place, but could use some tidying up.
As we travel closer to the Amazon, it’s time for us to start taking the dreaded malaria pills. Patient First prescribed us Mefloquine, which you only have to take once a week. It’s known to cause night terrors and diarrhea . . . fun times! Bryan took his for first time yesterday and hasn’t had any symptoms yet. Luckily, before I took my first pill, Bryan had the bright idea that the Mefloquine might interact badly with the medicine I’m already on. I wish our doctor at Patient First had thought of that. It’s all over the internet that the two medicines can cause major central nervous system damage. Thanks doc! Just what I need! So we went to the neighboring town of Santa Marta in search of another alternative to malaria prevention – Doxycycline. Another $35 later I only have a 20-day supply. Needless to say, we’re pretty pissed at Patient First. I thought potential drug-interaction was one of the major things doctors look into before prescribing patients a new medication. Don’t worry though, Mama Waugh is on a mission to have some words with Patient First!
In a few hours we will spend our last night in Taganga doing a night dive with our friends Lauren and Bobby (from Wales). In the morning we will be Venezuela-bound! We’ll be without internet for a couple of weeks as we trek to Angel Falls (highest in the world) and boat down the Amazon River. Merry Christmas to everyone!