First days in Colombia


Chow and I left the others to organize the work, while we went to scout out the beach scene.

It was March- the windy season.  Our new friend from the beach who brought the beers from the bungalow to the table told us so.  Who would know better than the guy slanging to tourists on the beach in Cartagena’s renowned district, Boca Grande?   He continued to teach us the climate patterns: the rainy season just passed and the warm winds alway blow in from the East.   He measures the humidity by the feel of the cash to his fingers. H U S T L E R.

The conversation quickly dove into his deportation from the United States, some sob story of prejudices and misunderstandings.   Somehow, in the end he still had his principles.  For the sake of friendliness, we expressed lots of respect for whatever it was he stood for.  He brought us more beers and we asked more about Cartagena.

A small boy came to the table to sell us colorful string knotted together.  He succeeded.   I’m happy to support youngin’s grind- fearlessly approaching strangers asking to do business.   I’m sure he’s saving up for something important, like a meal or shoes.  At the same time, I’m trying to leave with some recollection of what happens down here.   It’s a win-win because now me, el nino and Chow are bracelet buddies.
The next morning we woke up at 7 am, my roommate, Kane, blasted some Christina Aguliera- I didn’t feel like listening- not really a fan of hers.  I splashed water on my face to at least loosen up the stank caked on from the sin’s of the night before… 2 hours ago.  We dragged our haggard selves out to the breakfast buffet.   I shuffled towards the dizzy mess of Colombian food: cheese fried in some white flour (araypas?), a mush pile of rice mixed with vegetables and other non-sense I was too disconnected from the world to recognize.   I smashed on some fruit, gushing juice explosions in my mouth putting energy back into me.   Chomping into pineapples, cantaloupe, grapes, orange- fruit has always been my revitalizer.

We loaded onto the bus to listen to lecture on our way to….  Not sure where we were headed, nor did I care.  We were on our way to saving Colombia, one child at time.  That notion was enough for me.  I rested my eyes into a slumber and awoke when we were at the garbage dump.  Totally joking, it was a neighborhood of shacks where real people lived.    There were little kids running around with no shoes, unhealthy looking adults standing and staring at us and uncomfortably young-to-imagine parents standing and staring into nothing.  The blank or bewildered expressions didn’t ease the awkward feelings being felt.


Well, I suppose anything less could have been found in The South- we came here for a reason, and that was to help those who needed it.   So, let’s do it, how do we save these souls from the depths of hell’s eternal torture and pain?   The answer was hardly as adventurous as I had hoped.  No rebuilding/ construction (or any form of manual labor), no herding the people into a secret water vessel destined for a new beginning, no diagnosis + medicine, no workforce assemblage, NOTHING.


We walked around smiling and waving, like a celebrity on tour- ‘DON’T GET TOO CLOSE NOW, tell them how proud you are of their accomplishments!’ said the charity-tour leader.  I suppose they used to live in houses of hay, rather than sticks- otherwise, I I don’t know why we were  commending them.  All I knew was the pungent reek from this motionless death-infested water is creeping into my own soul and feeding my inner-world a painful nausea.


When we left, they were all still poor and sick, and quite possibly dying- but for whatever reason, they felt better.    And I’m told me did a great job.

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