Nov 13, 2005

Tylers Tayrona Tragedy and Terrific Twinkling


A digital tragedy struck! It happened while Tyler wrote a long post about one the most beautiful places either of us have ever seen, Parque National Tayrona. Tyler spent hours writing to tell the story, included pictures, tales of magic (really!) and even threw in a little more of his life philosophy. And then, in that lovable way that computers have, it lost !"·$%&/ all of his work.

After his rage subsided he then told me that he was thinking about phasing out of writing for this weblog. It´s understandable; few people are computer dorks like myself. Most sane people aren´t willing to spend hours in exotic new lands sitting in front of a computer screen in a dingy internet cafe writing for an electronic ether. I do understand that. But Tylers reason is what really puzzled me. He said that no one out there really cares about what he writes and that you were here only for what I say. Yeah, I know, I know. I´m a bigger fan of his perspective than anyone. But he doesn´t believe me when I tell him. If only someone else would...


That happened about three weeks ago, but I can´t let the beautiful place he was writing about go past without mention. A little while ago, I wrote about how I couldn´t understand how another traveller discovered the "Best Beach in the World" and couldn´t get enthusiastic about any others. I´m trying my hardest not to go down that path.

After driving into Parque Nacional Tayrona everyone needs to walk at least forty five minutes through the jungle to get to the coast and then the best place to stay is another half hour up the beach. The hike is good, if for no other reason than it filters out the people that aren´t willing to work hard to get to their relaxing.

Micah and Jiles pack in to Paradise

Home is a few electricity-free thatched roofs plopped down on the beach. There is a small restaurant and an even general store but variety is slim and expensive in both because every little thing needs to be packed in on overworked horses.


Most people throw up tents that they brought or rented in a clearing near the beach. Those are likely a little easier on the back than $3 a night hammocks we rented and they also offer a little more privacy for those fortunate enough to be coupled (Tayrona might be the most romantic destination ever). But we were happy enough to rock to sleep in the gentle breeze with the sound of the waves crashing on the beach.


Our home was plopped on one small bay, a beach protected from the full fury of the Atlantic by a coral reef several hundred meters out. Between our bay and the next there was a small peninsula with a cool structure with a great view. Finally, if one or two people on the beach felt too crowded a ten minute walk in either direction got to empty beaches so beautiful that I thought they existed only in travel agency ads. But there was more to do than just swim and lounge.

When asked many people say they can't decide whether they would like to live near the mountains or the sea. Well here is the ideal compromise, this part of Colombia has mountains rising up higher closer to the coast than anywhere else in the world. So after a morning swim we spent one morning climbing up mountains through the surrounding jungle. We found thick jungle, cool streams, and smooth rounded boulders.


Eventually we stumbled across the ruins of a vast ancient city now populated by a few families still living mostly traditionally.

Pueblito, new homes on ancient ruins

I honestly don't intend to over use the word "paradise" in this weblog, but we have been fortunate enough on this trip to need to say it over and over again. Is it possible for one to have too many wonderful experiences?

That question brings up a topic that Tyler and I are loath to discuss. Those of our readers that have mastered calendar technology have probably started to wonder how much longer our 6 month trip will last. Originally we were to spend two months in Central, four months in South America and come home in time for Christmas. That would be nice, but upon reaching Colombia four months in it just doesn't seem right to give all of South America half the time we gave to the little sliver of Central. But then, even though we both hate to let money dictate our lives, we knew we had budgeted fairly accurately and the money we set aside for this trip will indeed be gone by December.

On our first night in Tayrona we couldn't avoid talking about it anymore. We stood thoughtfully on the beach, looking out at distant lightning over crashing surf and had a difficult conversation. In addition to our travel funds we have both also saved some more to get started on a new life upon our return. We already knew we would need to dip into that for a flight home but we could also dig a bit deeper and just accept that we'll be really poor until we get an income.

It is one thing to decide to extend ones time in paradise while in paradise. And its very much another to live month after month on Ramen noodles while looking for work. Looking out at the rolling waves, peeling off our clothes for a midnight skinny dip, we both tentatively said "lets do it, lets go for broke" and extend the trip another two months.

As we waded in I wasn't sure at all if this was the right decision. If only the universe could give us some sort of sign that would let us know that things will work out. And then, the universe did.

Upon leaping into the water my whole body looked like it was covered in brilliantly glowing fireflys. With every motion the pitch black water lit up around where we moved and sparkled. We giggled like schoolgirls and started splashed ourselves into the middle of a fireworks show. I enjoyed snapping my fingers under water because it looked like a snap should, with a brief white flash of light. Tyler was elsewhere paddling up a furiously sparkling ball of magic to cast spells like a magician.

Never before, in my whole life, had anyone told me about Phosphoresence in the water. It turns out its caused by single celled organisms called Dinoflagellates which under the exact right conditions store up sunlight all day and release it as light when disturbed.

It was magical. It was profound. And it is the answer I was looking for.
America, take care of yourself. I won't see you until February.
Rainbow in Paradise
The universe is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper. -Eden Phillpotts


  1. Anonymous10:14 AM

    In response to a thinly-veiled request...

    Sundays are, traditionally, meant to be days of peaceful reflection. Before I doze off into blissful sleep during the wee hours of the morning, I tend to make the MacAllen Brothers part of my nightly rituals along with hot tea and a good book. I am not a blogger (this is my first time, honest!) but I find myself in the situation of needing to speak for fear of losing something I have come to enjoy immensely.

    Tyler MacAllen, how dare you think such ugly thoughts! Here is why you need to question your own authority: When I read Micah's entries, I ponder the greater implications of his words and how he is going to turn them into actions. Beautiful! Brillant! Inspiring! I cannot think of a nobler effort. But when I read from your passages, I know I am looking at the world through the eyes of someone who experiences it as I would - raw, real, emotional, human. You are the man we all are, full of sensory and vitality that we each experience yet few are able to put into words. And you do this "task" with every stroke of the keypad, just like an artist towards a canvas coated in layers and layers of thick, bold acrylic paint.

    The MacAllen Brothres are the perfect complements for describing the world as it is, what it could be, and who we have the potential to be in it. I would hate for my tea to become cold reading something else ;).

    May the winter storms of February bring the light mist and dew of spring into your lives ~

  2. Anonymous6:27 AM

    I certainly understand not wanting to invest the time and energy in writing interesting stories and observations. It is easy to sit back and simply read.
    I just went back and reread every one of Tyler's entries since the journey began. I am awash with emotion. It feels like life lessons, deep joy, guilty sorrow. Tyler you pour all of yourself into your pieces. It is no wonder You contemplate ending. It must be draining. I wish I could reach into cyberspace and find that missing piece that brought such a conclusion. I am going to solely miss Tyler's voice.

  3. Anonymous8:51 PM

    I can't say this as persuasively or eloquently as either of the others who commented did, but for what it's worth, I care. Please keep writing, Tyler.