Archive | January, 2013

Arrival in Nuqui

3 Jan

The beauty of being outside of your comfort zone is that you completely free your decision-making. The idea of ordering a full English breakfast, black coffee and the cheapest room in the hostel are not as sure-footed as they once were. Instead, you’re brought back to the basic questions, “what do you have for breakfast?”, “what do you have to drink?” and “where can I stay?”

In Nuqui the answers are “fish”, “juice” and “Hotel Marimar.” The last of these is at 30,000 COP the cheapest thing you can get round here and with an owner who oozes maternal instinct (she’s got my back!)

Frustratingly though Nuqui has the one thing I could really do with right now, a cash machine. I have a habit of arriving at these backwater places with very little money at hand, and Nuqui is no different. In truth, I have enough to have a good stay rocking around Nuqui but it doesn’t look like there’s a great deal to do around here. Read any travel article about Nuqui and generally they’re talking about the Nuqui district, a huge expanse of coastline with the only route to anywhere being by boat or plane, and neither being that cheap. With a couple of days to kill until the NuquiFestival starts I really wouldn’t mind going off on a trek, hitting the surf or even see some turtles (they’re hatching around now I’m told) but these things all cost a lot of money – they seem designed for rich Colombians – so they may have to wait.

For now I’m going to head back to the Marimar, knock back some juice and brush up some Spanish, and probably head down to the beach at 4 when the tide comes back in. With or without a cash machine, things could be a lot worse.

I’m Back!

2 Jan

It’s hard to contain the excitement of being back on the road again, and especially of heading straight to a place I know nothing about.

On Saturday and Sunday Nuqui will be hosting the NuquiFestival. As far as I’m aware it’s being organised by Arianna Vallecilla, a Colombian married to Will “Quantic” Holland, a relatively famous (he’s played some big festivals, Southbank Centre, Lincoln Center in New York, etc.) British producer, musician and extreme convert to the Colombian musical cause. I had met both of them last year, Will at Discos Fuentes in Medellín where he was working on his Ondatropica project and Arianna in Cartagena where we got talking about música pacifica, the distinctively Afro-Colombian music of Colombia’s Pacific coast. On that occasion she sold me a copy of Una Sola Raza by Grupo Canalón de Timbiqui, as pure an expression of Afro-Colombian music as you’re likely to find.

I’m hoping that Grupo Canalón will be at NuquiFestival, as well as Will and a few other musicians I’ve met along the way. In truth, it’s hard to know who will be at the festival as all that exists to even prove it will be happening is a Facebook page that includes a couple of directions and an apology for not updating the page very often.

I’ll be flying to Nuqui from Medellín. It will mark my first visit to Colombia’s Pacific coast and my first visit to the Pacific coast since spending a week in Máncora (Peru) what seems like an eternity ago.

It’s the Pacific coast of Colombia which I’ve most wanted to visit since leaving Colombia last year with a bag full of new Colombian music and the names of a hundred artists I wanted to listen to. The music from this region has retained it’s sense of origin despite influences of salsa and jazz. It’s music which can hit you right in your soul; devotional, passionate, hypnotic, a beautiful example of how African slaves were able to adapt their sacred music to a new environment while also bringing in a different catalogue of instruments.

This is the music which I am hoping will be rife in Nuqui, and the reason why I had to give up my New Year’s Eve to get a New Year’s Day flight to Colombia and make sure I will be in attendance.