In ten days I’ve taken over 2000 photographs and have accumulated dozens of pages of notes about the wonders and eccentricities of Colombian life. I may dedicate the rest of my career as a volunteer blogger to sharing this material.
The problem right now is that every time I try to make an effort to process the experience into blog format, a new experience comes along and I’m back into documentation mode. It’s like trying to write in a canoe between rapids.
So lets stick to photos. Here’s some from our first night in the country. We flew into Bogota and then took a commuter flight over mountains floating in cloud soup to Pereira where Don Guillermo, Andrea’s dad, picked us up. The four of us (and our luggage) crammed into the small car and made the treacherous 2 hour (40 km) drive past landslides and drivers long since immunized against prudent terror of passing on blind curves to Salamina, Andrea’s hometown. Salamina is one of several small colonial cities that would be flush with tourists if they weren’t so damn hard to get to, and if the country hadn’t been at war with itself for decades.
We planned our trip around getting to Salamina by the 7th for the:
The Night of Fire! Andrea’s been going on and on about this festival for years now. It’s pretty much the only thing she’d told me about her country that’s so full of marvels. That and that they consume vast quantities of plaintains. She most definitely undersold the former. All city lights were put out for the evening and the road closed off and flooded with thousands and thousands of paper lanterns made by unpaid schoolchildren who I’m sure were happy to be making pretty things instead of being tortured by grammar and arithmetic. Each street was organized into a different style of lantern and the parque principal, the town square, was a fairy land of hanging lights. It was an overwhelming beginning to a trip that has continued to suprise, delight, and exhaust us.
The evening culminated with un Espectaculo de Juegos Pirotecnicos, a virtual “Lluvia de Fuego,” or Rain of Fire, which is a very typically flowery Colombian way of saying fireworks show. This is a country of writers and poets who relish their purple prose. It’s infused into even the simplest conversations with taxi drivers. Maybe it’s because in a very poor country, everyone can afford to embellish their descriptions.
It really was an impressive spectacle, worthy of Gandalf the Grey. I’m accustomed to fireworks shows that impress with sound and fury. These pyrotechnics were smaller, but had more tricks up their sleeves. They swirled and danced and sparked with secondary and tertiary blossoms. The best were the parachutes that slowly descended with their string of fire hanging below. I’m not so sure the locals were impressed, though.
I think I understood Don Guillermo telling me that the pumps on the trucks were not in working order, but I’m an expert at misunderstanding Spanish so he may have been telling me that I had a booger hanging out of my nose. Anyway, their presence was reassuring.
No word on whether I am the proud owner of a this cerdo: