Tag Archives: Buenaventura

Buenaventura to Cali

16 Jan

The difference between Nuqui and Cali could not be more pronounced. Black faces are replaced by white, wooden walls by brick, dust with concrete, health suddenly becomes an issue. The streets are alive with traffic, people walk around with a sense of purpose. I am suddenly the only person in flip flops.

One thing remains the same though, the streets are dead at night. This is the one things I always remember Cali for. After 8pm the majority of the city shuts down, the people stay in their homes and will only venture out by taxi. The only oasis’ of life are the bars which are dotted randomly and scarcely around the city. Once they close at 11pm or midnight you will be lucky to see anyone on the street, just a stream of taxis taking people from homes to clubs, and vice versa.

Nuqui to Buenaventura (Part Two)

14 Jan

Of course arriving late has it’s disadvantages. All the beds and mattresses that fill every inch of floor space in the sleeping quarters had been taken. My envy soon diminished though, as it seems as if you do have a bed you must use it constantly throughout the whole journey. For 22 hours the “bed” people rarely moved, lunch and dinner being the only exceptions.

I walked around the boat, finding new spots to watch the views, hypnotised by the waves, making notes or reading my books. Whenever I looked into the quarters all I saw was a sea of people, crammed in, sweating, barely alive. The ceiling was too low to stand up, the floor too packed to plant a leg that the only people who tried to make an exit were the toddlers; feeling a draught of cool air coming in from the deck they would make a run for the exit only to be pulled back in by a hand lurching out of the pack. Every person in that room had been transformed from person to cargo.

Night-time was the main drawback. I staked out a section of bench, just wide enough to lie down on and made it my home for a few hours. Situated next to the engine room I vibrated my way to sleep before waking half-an-hour later, uncomfortable and in pain, and then I switched sides.

We arrived in Buenaventura at 6am, 22 hours after leaving Nuqui. I spent no time in Buenaventura, getting a cab straight to the bus station. Cali would be the next place I would lay my head.

In some ways I think I should have stayed in Buenaventura for a few days but the city looked ominous. What was once an important port (pre-Panama canal) was now a scrap yard. Roads, shops, cars and people seemed to roll into one, creating a cacophony of sounds that could alert a blind man that he’s in the wrong place.

One of the main reasons I wanted to stay was to visit the Pier. It was here in 2011 that citizens and tourists gathered round to watch the tsunami hit the shore, the forewarned aftershock of what happened in Indonesia. Sitting in deck chairs, drinking beers and selling sweets, they waited for it to come. It never did, and the party was cut short. They would have to wait a while longer before something/anything came along to cleanse their city.

Nuqui to Buenaventura (Part One)

11 Jan

I’ve now officially passed part one of my pirate diploma. The boat to Buenaventura was leaving at 8am. This being Colombia, and specifically Nuqui, I presumed this meant the boat would be leaving around 8am. How wrong I was. Arriving at the embarcation point – essentially the house of Yiyo (who owned the boat) – just before 8 I saw a gaggle of people on the side of the river waving. Turning the corner to see what they were waving at confirmed my fears. The boat had left and was now beginning to power up the river. I burst through the crowd, shouting “Buenaventura”; it was half question, half letting people know that I wanted to be on that boat. The crowd started shouting “rápido, rápido” but it was unclear what I could do faster to get on a boat that was now mid-river. Then I had an idea. There was a boat a bit further down the river, harboured, it looked like it might just be jutting out into the river enough for me to use it as a gangway onto the boat. I ran down the bank, slipping in the mud, hauled myself onto the boat and ran to the end. Yiyo stood at the front of Nuquimar, the boat I wanted to be on. I looked at him for ideas. With little else he could do he called for the boat to slow down. However, there was no way it was ever going to come close enough to my boat for me to pass across.

Then I heard someone shouting at me from behind; these Colombians sure are resourceful. He gestured for me to follow him and then shouted at another Colombia, who ran over to his motor boat. I saw exactly what was happening and so suddenly, I was on the river. Within seconds we were parallel to the Nuquimar. I chucked my bags over the side, jumped up to grab the hand rail and pulled myself in. I had been told the boat to Buenaventura leaves every 15 days. This wasn’t a trip I was going to miss.

Key Stage 2 Level 3 of the pirate diploma involves taking hostages, so I’m thinking of transferring my skills – disaster management perhaps?

And Mum, before you send me an email, I am aware this probably isn’t covered by my insurance.