Friday, November 13, 2009
Bienvenidos a Colombia...again
Well here I am again, blogging within a week of the last one. I arrived into Leticia, Colombia after my 40 hour boat ride. I spent a night in Leticia, met some travelers from Sweden & Australia and got talked into walking to Brazil in the rain to go see the discotecs. That was an interesting night filled with men dressed as women and an intro into dealing with Portuguese. It reminds me that if I decide to drive into Brazil that I will be starting over with another language, not so sure about that quite yet as I'm still trying to work on my Spanish. After that night I woke up & decided, well it was decided for me as the hostal was full, that I would go up the Amazon. I was told I could go find a local community and would be welcomed to stay, so long as I brought food. SO I shopped for rice, potatoes, tomatoes, more veggies and even picked up some school supplies. It seemed like I had plenty of food. Little did I know the family I would land with has 7 kids and struggles feeding them on a daily basis. Anyways so I find a boat that will take me a couple of hours up the river & then get dropped off alone. I hike up the muddy bank and find some kids & one of which says that his dad isn't there but they would let me stay with them. The first thing he does as I arrive to their "house" is take my food. I knew they would take the food, the idea was they would take the food & then feed me with them. Now this is a hand made shack & not a craftsman. There is one 10x10 room and come to find out that 10 people live in this room & I'm still not really sure how. The family welcomes me to their house but I feel fairly strange as they're pretty much just staring at me and though I try to engage in conversation, it doesn't go far. I don't think they know how to react to my existence. The little ones are interested but the older ones not so much. I try speaking to the grandma but she doesn't even respond, to which I find out later she doesn't speak spanish just a local dialect. Later that day their dad comes home & he's really nice and actually engages me in conversation. He takes me around the town, tells me how part of the land collapsed into the river and they lost their homes and a few people died. So now they have rebuilt homes away from the river. And then back to the casa where I hang out & set up my hammock outside in their "living room" where I will be sleeping. It's time for dinner, they build a fire and begin to cook & I just kind of sit back and watch. We all eat a bowl of white rice for dinner. I feel bad for eating, they seem so starved, and I feel bad in general like I'm this rich white gringo rubbing it in by being there...it's hard to explain. I guess when I show up with 2 backpacks and it seems like I have more stuff than all 10 of them have in their house it makes you feel bad. Over the 3 days they were there, they hardly fed me. I never saw the food I brought, I got a bowl of rice the first night & a bowl of rice and potatoes the second day for lunch. They ate but certainly weren't concerned with me eating and at the same time I couldn't really care. I had a few snacks in my bag and even a snickers bar but I couldn't dare pull it out, I didn't have enough to share and I certainly would have felt bad. My appetite has been huge lately anyway so a good time to taper it back a bit, something I'm all familiar with from my old wrestling days. Now you think having 7 kids crammed into a room that they'd be fighting all the time, I know my brothers & I scraped plenty in our "small" townhouse, but that wasn't the case at all. The 9 yr old girl watched the baby and her 8 yr old brother helped. The teenage kids cooked the meals, dad was working in the jungle looking for fruits and such and the mom & Grandma hacked down some palm leaves to begin separating them into fibers so they could make necklaces, purses & such. The work the ladies put into making just a bracelet was insane to see, so much labor for one little item that they would in turn sell for 50 cents. There was never a cry or a fight from any kid, other than the baby. I slept on my hammock with a mosquito net while the 10 of them slept in the room, somehow. It was a very interesting experience but by day 3 and no food for me I was ready to leave. I decided to catch up a boat upriver more to another town, one that is a little bigger and has a few hotel like places & a couple of restaurants so I could control my own food destiny. This town is called Puerto Narino, it's a very cool eco friendly village. They happen to be having a day of sports, a decathalon of sorts. With all these kids competing in soccer, volleyball & basketball (which was funny to watch). This was all normal, they were solid soccer players at all ages and not so good at basketball. Then later on in the evening they, of course, had blowdart competitions. I watched 10 yr old girls compete with hand made jungle blow guns shot their hand made darts from nearly half court into a target. They were really good at it too. The next morning I rented a canoe & paddled myself up the Amazon which proved to be really tough as I was heading up current. This didn't last long though I did spot some girl wildlife along the way. After that I caught a boat back to Leticia which is where I am now. I fly from here to Bogota today....now that I think about it flying to Bogota, Colombia on Friday the 13th doesn't sound like the brightest idea. It was really good to have someone from home to share the crazy experiences that come about on this trip and I'm still having them. Off to surely have more as I navigate Colombia over towards the Caribbean coast.