It started raining about 1am and kept going all morning. There was nothing else to do so we did laundry, Amazon style, which in itself was a small adventure.
Rain or no we had to eat so we headed into town with our ponchos. Despite all the rain we had encountered this was our first real opportunity to use our ponchos since we’d bought them (at a premium) in Cartagena.
Lunch was fish or chicken with soup to start with. I was beginning to sense a pattern here.
The thing I noticed on the way over to town was the port was loaded with fisherman, many counting their haul already. Turns out after two days of sun followed by a big rain, the fish come to the top making themselves an easy target for fisherman. I guess everyone doesn’t hate the rain.
While at lunch it stopped raining and we were joyous because I just couldn’t envision a day in the cabaña just twiddling my thumbs. The U.S. was still too much in my blood for that. I didn’t even have a book to read and electricity was only on in certain hours of the day.
We decided to take the 1 & ½ hour boat ride down to the village of Macedonia where, it being a Sunday, we could buy some souvenirs and take in some authentic traditional dancing.
When we pulled into the town’s little dock, a representative came down to welcome us. The townspeople were all gathered with the men playing some kind of board game with dice and little boys playing a spinning top game called Trompo.
I tried Trompo but sucked at it so bad that I felt bad interrupting their game so I ambled back with the crew to take in some traditional dancing from 3 of the elder ladies in traditional costume along an adorable 10 year old girl named Esmeralda. They invited us to participate and I did.
It was much easier to follow along than something like salsa. It had a slow, simple rhythm with the ladies chanting something in their native language over and over. At the end of their dance they placed a small pot in the middle of the dirt floor, a not so subtle request for donations.
I gave them a nice propina (tip) because this was really the kind of experience I was expecting in yesterday in San Martin after the 3 hour hike. Had I known this was only a boat ride away, would we have taken the hell hike? Not sure.
I looked around at a few of the local crafts, asking questions of the artisans on camera and doing my best to be humorous and entertaining. I’m not sure I succeeded but I did unintentionally break a miniature bow and arrow on camera and the crew loved it. Breaking stuff is good TV evidently.
The lady in charge of this particular batch of crafts just laughed and I truly don’t think she was going to charge me. She kept looking at the broken toy like she was figuring out “how am I going to fix what this clumsy Gringo just busted?” but of course I paid for it. I bought a few other things, some that I didn’t even break first, and some food including a wonderful coconut cookie that helped fill my post lunch craving.
I also got a temporary tattoo of an anaconda on my chest. The tattoo is a religious purifying experience that draws out all the bad stuff within you over an 8 day period. After 8 days the tattoo then begins to fade as you become clean. I’m beginning to notice a trend where the indigenous folks keep wanting to cleanse me? Must be some dirty aura I’m putting off or do they just assume all westernized Gringos need this? We may never know but my spirit should be spic and span clean after this trip.
We jumped back into the boat and headed back to Puerto Nariño after saying hearty and appreciative goodbyes to the townspeople. The folks of Macedonia truly seemed glad to see us come by and even though we did pump a little (very little) money into their local economy, I got the distinct feeling it was more genuine than just our small economic impact.
They never once pushed anything on us and were not aggressive salespeople at all (such a nice beak from the aggressive rudeness in Cartagena), they just seemed like really nice and humble people.
This has always been my experience with the indigenous people I’ve encountered over the years. Even in touristy spots like Machu Pichu, Peru, they exhibit an awareness of themselves that so exceeds day to day things like making money and acquiring things.
Its true, most of them do seem to live hard lives but that just adds to my amazement at their self awareness. They didn’t show any outward emotion or joy at being paid for their artwork or dancing They would only ,matter of fact, discuss the price if you asked them. But if you did not buy they didn’t show the least bit of disappointment or negative emotion. They seemed happy that we had visited them regardless.
On the way back we could tell the sunset was going to be incredible so we rushed back to the cabañas for a sunset shot at dusk. We then had one final shoot with all the animals from the Alto Aguila (High Eagle) Cabañas, the dog, parakeet, duck, the baby owl (Babahboohey), and two monkeys… all on camera for one final closing shot. I felt like Dr. Doolittle.
Having grown up on a farm, I sort of took animals for granted but in the Amazon they are a bit more exotic and really do add to an already amazing experience. Nature of course is outstanding, but it’s the people I’ll remember the most. They are nothing short of incredible. I’m eager to get back to the comforts of civilization but I’m really going to miss this place, the animals and especially the people. It’s a truly magical experience.