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colombia impressions

Macaws, coarse and strident, screaming overhead. Glorious blue, red, yellow. A pair of quizzical toucans. Steamy swamps.

Endless music blaring distorted from over-sized speakers. The last dancers still swaying in the morning light.

The road before me. Hot blacktop and traffic. Dust rising under the wheels of trucks. Buses speeding past, inches away, boys hanging out the door urgently shouting destinations, leaping to the ground as the vehicle grinds to a halt to assist passengers on and off.

Roads to the unknown. Torpid sun-soaked villages at midday. Smiling curious boys. Questions. A broken chain. The bike is limping. Sweat. A sudden breeze. Sometimes it seems that I am standing still, pushing the weight of the world around beneath me.

Stars overhead in a night vibrating with insects.

Cattle grazing in marshy fields, belly deep in water and bright green grass, attended by flocks of white egrets. Herons. Long toed jacana, delicately pacing lily pads, startled into a flash of yellow winged flight. Egrets overhead with serpentine neck neatly folded, trailing legs behind.

The search for somewhere to sleep as the sun descends. Fields. Sheds. Yards. A vacant lot overlooking the ocean. This is farmland, fincas and haciendas, cattle country. Locked gates and fences.

Wash off dust and sweat in the sea or with water scooped from a tank of carefully collected water. Learning the art of public bathing. A well or a drum filled with water. A dipper. An audience. Clothes stay on. Somehow it’s possible to work around them – you can try to clean them, too.

More birds. Yellow oriole flash. The high screaming whistle of a bird of prey. Falcons on power lines. A hawk standing watch on the bare branch of a tree. A kite hunting over the marsh. Fork tailed flycatchers chasing each other, their trailing tail feathers swirling in stylish graceful curves.

Mary, of the car lights.

A sobering road sign: a memorial to the 196 women murdered in Antioquia in 2012 - testament to the dark side of machismo culture. I presume that these were largely incidents of domestic violence and it would be interesting to have some comparative statistics. I feel perfectly safe travelling alone.

Nice sign for those us who enjoy dirt, with tarmac dematerialising in front of the wheels. Mind you, one thing worse than a paved highway is the unpaved highway. If you are sharing your road with trucks and speeding buses I'm all for pavement.

Midday beach.

An aspiring Reggeaton star.


New Year's Day dawns.

Morning light...

... with details.

Fats sleek cows.

Dead flat swampland with just a hint of mountains to come.

A down hill run into Cartagena in the distance...

... slowed down by a couple broken spokes. I have had a mysterious rash of broken spokes on my front wheel recently.

{ 2 } Comments

  1. paul parker | January 11, 2013 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

    Hi anna,

    Great to see you see u still travelling.

    You may remember Siobhan and I, we met in the Hostel in Campeche (2010), when you weren’t too well and were just about to visit the UK to rest a while.

    we’ve been back home over a year now (returned Sept 2011) and feet are quite itchy

    Your blog gives us our travelling fix every now and again.
    travel safe and keep well.


    Paul and Siobhan

  2. jueko | June 2, 2013 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    “I presume that these were largely incidents of domestic violence”

    it’s mostly related to general violence in Antioquia, related to the new drug cartels, etc (more than a thousand people were killed in Antioquia in 2012, mostly men) but yes, some of these deaths could be linked to violence against women specifically.

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