to the islands - Las Islas Rosarias
the Sunday we went out to the islands for the day - they are around
an hour away from the coast - we came to a stop around half an hour
into the journey while a tour guide explained some history about
we were stationery, we all noticed some locals approaching us in
small boats. There were three of them in vision getting closer and
closer. I then turned around and realized that we were now surrounded
by these small boats each containing two or three local Colombians.
was going through my mind? I was questioning why we had stopped
here and if it was planned so that they could come and take our
valuables, or even worse, kidnap us.
then transpired that they were there to collect money. People began
to throw money at them. They jumped and dived into the water to
catch it, like circus performers. The reality is they seemed to
get more money than the street kids at the traffic lights in Barranquilla
who juggle and perform acrobatic tricks, hoping to gain change from
drivers as they wait for the lights to go green.
difficult being in the office most days, working for a foundation
trying to have a positive impact on these people and making a difference.
Could I be having more of a direct impact? I
know in reality, for anything to change, the groundwork has to be
beach and Caribbean waters
set off again after not too long, with a relief and strange disappointed
feeling for what just happened and the reality that many of the
people Colombia face.
were greeted by a beautiful tranquil island with a white sandy beach.
Within the first few moments of setting foot ashore, we were targeted
by the sellers: fresh lobster and a tour to the aquarium. As the
day was an all-inclusive package, the persistence of sellers died
down, leaving us to enjoy the sunshine and clear waters.
and parrot playfighting
was really great: buffet style with fresh fish. A real treat (see
photo at the top of the page). During lunch, our attention was drawn
to a beautiful tropical parrot that at first appeared to be being
attacked by a dog, but in fact the two were play-fighting, a funny
sight to see.
the way back to Cartagena, the boat stopped a number of times again,
not voluntarily this time, but due to engine trouble. Not my idea
of fun, with images of sharks and the music from Jaws entering my
a few more stops and starts, we were back on dry land, or not so
dry: during the day it had clearly rained on the mainland and walking
back to the hostel we had to dodge big puddles as the drainage system
is not that advanced.
with a Bonice penguin
the way back, Dan Dos converted all of us to the 'Bonice phenomenon',
for a mere 300 Colombian Pesos, around 6 pence, you can get a very
refreshing iced lollypop from the people roaming the streets with
freezer boxes or giant penguins.
second and final evening in Cartegena was spent on the rooftop bar
off one of the main squares. It's a really amazing venue in an old
building with live music and a great atmosphere. We were all quite
tired though, so in the end it wasn't a big night.
the final day, we walked around the old city and went to Boca Grande
near to the city. We ate handmade pizzas for lunch after we struggled
to find a place to eat for over an hour because it was a national
holiday and most restaurants were shut.
with yet another chiva
bought my first Chiva model which I got personalized with "Pioneers
2004" written on the side, having been influenced by Dan Uno's
back to the Barranquilla, I fell asleep on the coach, only to be
woken up by the others saying we were getting off the coach before
the station as it was closer to where we live. Confused, because
I had just woken up, I thought they were joking. Still in a daze,
we got off the coach.
we were about to set off home in the taxi, Juliet frantically searched
her bag. Her wallet wasn't there. She tried to remember when she
last had it and concluded it must be on the coach. As a result of
trying to save some money by getting off the coach earlier, we were
now in a taxi in a 'follow that coach' situation!
arrived at the coach station and luckily found the coach that we
had been on, just as it was being locked-up. Juliet and Dan Uno
got on to have a look and found no sign of it.
left the police our contact details and got a taxi back to Juliet's
place. The taxi driver charged us time and a half claiming it was
due to the public holiday. I'm not really sure if that was the case,
but we paid it all the same. Juliet only had one debit card in her
wallet so once her bank was called, we all decided to go and treat
ourselves to ice cream on the corner of the road where I am staying
with Juan K.
good to be true
we sat and spoke about the weekend, Juliet got her ice cream and
told us how the person who served her had commented on her amazing
blue eyes, something that is very different here.
phone rang: it was Juliana informing us that her family had received
a phone call from someone who had found Juliet's wallet, saying
that they would keep it for her until she collected it from them.
Luckily, Juliet had written a list of contact details and her address
in her wallet only a few days earlier.
a couple of days delay, due to trouble getting through to the woman
that had the wallet, Juan K's mother took us to the address and
Juliet was given back her wallet, and not one thing was missing:
all the money was there, over 120,000 pesos, the debit card and
could not believe it, everyone saying that would never have happened
in England. Challenging stereotypes and generalisations, finding
good honest people is not country specific.
by James Eder
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in the Caribbean sea