They say, that paradise is trees filled with fruits, meadows and fields covered in flowers, beaches with crashing waves. They say that paradise is a place where you feel good and happy and nothing bad ever happens. I’ve found this place. 

Tuesday is the day where we arrive in paradise. I remember horseback riding through the jungle from years ago but no one would have known how happy it made me this time. My horse is not the fastest one of the group but my instincts remember every command from the years I have spent on a horse’s back and the colombian guides laugh and say “congratulations, you can really handle our horses!” Not yet I know that I will repeat this three times, getting to different horses every time and healing everytime a little bit more.

We sleep in cabañas 3, 4 + 5, wooden houses with hamacas in front of the door. There’s a big cabaña where you can just rent a hammock, but no one wants that.  I wake up after the first night at 6 and walk down to the beach with my mum. I take pictures of the beach findings and self portraits, listen to Ben Howard, Lorde and Carlos Vives and go to meet up with the rest of the family for breakfast. I already am in love with the way we have fruit, juice and eggs every morning. It’s all the same, but it feels familiar.

The days are spent at the various beaches. “Piscina” the first day, off to a long walk to another one on the second day. I leave with my cousins after the adults have already left but we end up catching up to them. The walk takes over two hours, first along the beach then through the jungle. I remember the beach from my first time there. We climb the rocks, we dive into the ocean. The current is very strong so we have to be careful. Luís, the lifeguard talks to my family. I decide to not walk the whole way back at the end of the day but to take a horse. I get a faster one this time. We run so fast the wind that is playing with my hair has trouble catching up with us.

At night we choose from one of the two restaurants. I always eat chicken. I always drink jugo de sandia. A lot of my family members have diarrhea but it does not keep us from enjoying the food. One night I walk down to the beach at dusk with my two cousins. I love the boys of my family as much as I love the girls of my family. I know families where that is not the case so I am glad that I feel that way. They drink Aguila beer. We watch the sun set behind the hazy salt-filled foggy air over the beach. We are careful not to step on alligators on our way back – it works because we don’t see any.

We leave the parque de tayrona on friday morning, waking up at 5 to pack the last few clothes into our completely stuffed bagpacks. We do look like travelers, the real kind, that does not live in all inclusive resorts. Breakfast is served in plastic bags this time: two sandwiches per person. We all have coffee while we’re waiting for the horses to arrive. I ask for the strongest horse that they have. We leave the group behind and we fly.

I feel alive.