Sunday, July 23, 2006

last 24 hours in salento, colombia

The Colombian Gun Powder Game 9:30PM
We've all played target games. For example horseshoes, or shuffleboard, or bocce. It's a pretty simple concept. You try to get the horseshoe or ball close to the target. So let me introduce you to Tejo. Similar concept. Players aim for a target about 15 yards away. Each player gets a weighted metal disk and aims for a paper target in a hardpacked mud box about 3 feet by 3 feet wide. Do you remember paper football back in high school. That's what the paper target looks like, a triangular paper football. So basically you throw this metal disk about the size of half a large orange, and weighing about 3 lbs. underhand towards the target 15 yards away, aiming for the paper football looking thing in a pile of mud. Whoever is closest gets 6 points. But the best part is, you can get 9 points if your disk lands on the paper target. If it lands on the paper target, the target explodes because it is filled with gunpowder.
How was this game formed?? Who thought of this?
Were they playing this game similar to horseshoes and were bored with the sound of metal just hitting paper? Did they all have extra gun powder lying around and needed something to do with it?
Either way, we played, and it was really difficult and a tad bit muddy on the hands. But in the end we all hit the target once, and all got to have the feeling of setting off a triumphant explosion. Of course we were playing the shorter course which is half the size of the normal course, so it was a bit easier. It's quite intimidating walking into a tejo court. People are chucking metal disks in the air which could give you a pretty big concussion. If they miss the mud target and hit the metal box holding the mud, it makes this loud metal on metal clanking sound. And of course if they hit the target, it sounds like someone shot a shotgun. And oh yeah, on a Saturday night, all the players are drinking. I'm not sure whether this adds a level of skill, or danger, or probably a bit of both.

Salsa in Salento's main plaza 11PM
Solento has a great plaza. Good scale, nice views, and filled with lots of fun loving Colombians. One fun loving kid, age 18, known as 'burro' (donkey) forced me and the two girls I was with to join him and his friends to sit and drink with them. On weekends in the plaza the restaurants and cafes set up tables in the street and blast music. We all sat around drinking aguadate which is a clear black licorice tasting strong liquor. It's Colombia's national drink. We also all danced salsa outdoors. 'Burro' was particularly wasted and got a bit upset when we didn't want to drink anymore or go to another bar. But we appeased him by telling him we'd meet him the next day in the plaza. Not sure though whether he realizes that the girls I was with were leaving the next day. Oh well.

Canadian virgin 2AM
Tried to kiss a girl after chatting in her room for 2 hours. Found out not only was she a vigin, but at 23 years old, has never been kissed before. She's waiting to meet the right person. Fine, but for kissing?? Never knew such a person existed in this day and age. Especially a girl who has dreadlocks. Seems like an oxymoron.

The coffee region noon the next day
Hiked down a road with Sophia, Riki and Monique, and of course Valeria, the hostel owner's 11 year old daughter/guide. We went to an organic coffee finca (farm). Small operation with animals everywhere, coffee beans, crops, etc. Old guy gave us a tour and even caught him on video. Wasn't terribly exciting but interesting to know that this organic farm sells beans to the US.

Saving a life 2PM
The five us were walking down a dirt country road along a barbed wire fence. We were heading to the main road to catch a bus back to the hostel. On the other side of the fence was the Nabarco River/stream. There were a bunch of Colombianos swimming, sunbathing and eating and drinking. The Dutch girl Monique was walking behind me when she said,
"How do I get in here (through the fence)!! I know first aid!"
We all thought she wanted to go swim in the river.
"How do I get in!"
I saw a slight opening in the fence that she could crawl under to get through, and I pointed it out to her. Out of the corner of my eye, I realized what was happening. A woman was being carried out of the water by her arms and legs. Monique was trying to get through the fence to give her CPR and save her. One of the women around the drowned girl was hysterical. She was shaking the drownded girl, screaming, not letting go of her, and basically getting in Monique's way who was trying to save her. Eventually other Colombianos pulled the hysterical lady out of the way. The four of us behind the fence watching kept thinking and saying "C'mon, c'mon, snap out of it. C'mon, come back to life". It was a tense situation. You could feel it in the air. It seemed like 15 minutes had passed. Finally, the girl gurgled out some vomit and water and came back to life. Apparently she had been drinking a bunch of aguadente, slipped on one of the rocks and drowned.
It made me think of just how precious life is.
It made me think of how petty my complaints are.
It made me think how no one deserves to die at such a young age.
It made me think how life can change on a dime.
It made me think of how fragile life is.
It made me think of how anyone could actually take another person's life.
It made me think of how we all need to make the most out of every day.
It made me think. It grounded me.
We were all so relieved that the girl was OK. Monique was a lifeguard at one point and that's why she knew first aid. After the whole incident, Monique mentioned that she's used to having help around her, people calling an ambulance, and so on. Now she felt the pressure was all onn her and this girl's life was totally in her hands. She started to tear and was shaking a bit, which is totally understandable. Luckily she performed as good or as better as anyone could in that situation. Monique did tell the girl she should go see a doctor just in case of water in her lungs. Unfortunately as is typical of Colombia, they couldn't afford to go to a hospital. So we all just hope she'll be fine. That's what I had to keep telling Monique who felt responsible for her well being. The reality is that even if Monique or any of us gave her money for a doctor, odds are that the money would never get to a doctor. Monique is pretty much a hero, and in all of my travels, this was the nicest act of kindness I've ever witnessed.


At 12:37 AM, Blogger alicia said...

whoa! Go monique! Keep up the adventure and spark renato!

besos, alicia x

At 2:22 PM, Blogger thaiboi said...

Wow, amazing.


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