Saturday, July 5, 2014

Colombia/Panama Day 8: Cartagena to Turbo by shuttle van

I decided to go with the group to be transported to Sapzurro because the Colombia book I bought didn't include information on Sapzurro, and I didn't want to chance missing the boat to the San Blas islands as they go only a few times a month.  I met the group at Mamallena hostel around 8 that morning.  By about 8:40 our driver did the sign of the cross complete with a kiss of the thumb and we left (it made me a bit apprehensive).  
I asked if I could sit up front, which is my preferred seat because it is typically less crowded, and I get an opportunity to be more vigilant.  
He was negotiating more business, on both of his cell phones texting and talking as he drove, temporarily swerving towards motorcycles or potholes as he glanced at the next phone call.  At one point he missed our turn.  This is when I told him that in California it is illegal to drive on your phone, he replied by telling me they have the same law in Colombia.  
We picked up two Colombians at a bus stop just 30 minutes away from where we started, it added some nice color to our shuttle van.  

When we were at the bus stop and things were a little hectic I started to open this banana.  A Colombian standing outside my window attempted to inform me that the banana I was about to consume was green.  I looked at it again and said it is not green it is yellow, and perfectly ripe.  
He again said it wasn't, and someone else concurred.  
'He is right, you know, its green...'
I began to eat it after having to cut the tip with my knife in order to open it (that wasn't the best sign).  I pretended like it was delicious but it totally was not ripe, I smiled and said it was perfect for traveling because it wouldn't get smashed.  
Liar, liar, pants on fire.  
Gotta save face in front of random Colombians...
 It was really bad.  I couldn't even finish it.  
Why in the world would I argue with someone who lives in the middle of the Banana Republic about the ripeness of a banana?!  
I am glad I didn't bet anything. 
You live and you learn.

It was my first experience in the country of Colombia.  I love the countryside.  There are very few main roads in all of Colombia because it is covered with the Andes and jungle.  For this reason the road is shared with pedestrians, roadside vendors, trucks, motocicletas, motochoches (they call them tuk-tuks in Guatemala and Thailand), people riding burros, cows, and more.  

The guy with the hat to the left is Mario, he sat next to me after we transferred shuttle vans. He sold indigenous made Colombian hats in Capurgana.  He was very informative about Colombia and Panama regarding the government and public education, among other things.  I love getting history lessons from locals.  

Mario made a joke that these cows were going to the store.  I asked if they were going to buy milk.  He laughed and said no, skin products.  Maybe it is funnier in Spanish... 

When Mario was talking about the banana plantations (mostly foreign owned), I tried to impress him with my bananero knowledge, explaining that the Colombian plantation owners are underpaid.  He immediately said no.  They were paid well.  
My whole final paper for my Spanish bachelors could have been thrown out the window, but all of the sudden I was not sure that Mario was a reliable source.
Thousands of deaths, historical documents, and countless books would argue differently, but it was an interesting response, none the less.  

After about 10 hours of traveling we made it to Turbo, from here boats will be our mode of transportation for the next five days.  After I had my first Aguila beer (well, and my second) I went downstairs to the park with a few people in our group and ate dinner (my first real meal in Colombia) and then prepared for tomorrow's journey.  Turbo is not a place to spend a significant amount of time, but there is only so much time in the day to travel.    

1 comment:

  1. This is an incredible post. It has everything in it: intrigue, history, humor, bad bananas! Who would have known? I love it. Thank you for sharing your adventure with us. Wow.

    My favorite photo is the last one. Amazing.
    Viajar con seguridad y saber que está pensado a menudo


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