In the busyness of a fulfilling life – from doing work we enjoy to celebrating monumental moments to maintaining healthy relationships, perhaps one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves in our living is the luxury of a day off. If we can afford the time (and sometimes cost), there is often unbridled pleasure in just relaxing, recharging the human battery, and feeling grateful for the opportunity to do so.
“Find a culture where loafing is the order of the day and where they don’t understand our need to be constantly doing things. Find somewhere you can have a hammock holiday.” – Tom Hodgkinson, British writer b. 1968
The people of Colombia are considered to be some of the happiest in the world. Living here nearly three years, it’s become apparent that even the hardest-working person – from the avocado street vendors to the leaders of community organizations, will take a day off to savor their beautiful country and relajarse (such a lovely Spanish word!)
When your main focus is relaxation, nothing seems better than a day swinging in a hammock. Swaying along, sipping a coconut drink, listening to palm leaves rustle overhead in a cool Caribbean breeze. Ahhh…this is the life, and for many, real life. Chosen life. Life looked at through a snorkeling mask or $5.00 replica “designer” sunglasses bought on the beach. Life to love.
A day trip to Hotel Palmarito Beach was the perfect blend of relaxation, fun and plenty of hammock time on a recent Sunday afternoon. Meeting friends in front of the Nuevo Hospital Bocagrande, a lancha from the hotel made the quick and easy trip across the sea, returning to the island of Tierra Bomba. Our group arrived to a large dock, where we watched local kids practicing backflips into the deep blue water.
Escorted by the cheerful boat staff to the main entrance, we received a delicious welcome “mocktail” of fresh juice before making our way to the shimmering pool next to the hotel, reachable by walking through a large grassy area where tall palm trees and colorful hammocks beckoned as they swayed in the breeze.
After an hour splashing and swimming in the crystal waters, our lunch arrived, served family-style at a large table. The most typical meal – seafood soup followed by fried fish, patacón, coconut rice and salad, with refreshing agua de panela – is almost prerequisite for a day at the beach in Colombia. Our group savored every bite, enhanced with fresh lime, and cleaned our plates before deciding a hammock would be the best way to digest this meal.
Settling into a colorful, handwoven creation is like being hugged by everything that makes Colombia amazing. The sweet smell of soft fibers and tangy sea salt envelope your body as you drift off for your afternoon nap. Breathe deep, taking in some prahna, considered to be the vital force of both the individual body and the universe.
An optimist is a man who plants two acorns and buys a hammock. – Jean de Lattre de Tassigny, French military commander, 1889 – 1952
After about an hour, our party arose from our hammocks, feeling grateful there was still some time left in the day. We walked a few steps to the beachfront of Hotel Palmarito and enjoyed an awakening dip in the Caribbean sea, complete with a skyline view of Bocagrande. Briny, blue-green waters soothed our sun-kissed skin before we emerged, heading for one of several giant shaded beds on the sand to enjoy yet another tasty fruit drink.
As the day came to an end and the boat staff rounded up our group, we thanked the owner of the hotel for this delightful experience on Tierra Bomba. Boarding our sturdy lancha, we reveled in seeing the dark clouds that narrowly missed our hammock oasis, leaving an after-downpour show, complete with a brilliant rainbow.