La Dorada to Puerto Serviez
Trip Start May 2006
28Trip End Aug 17, 2006
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The fisherman get around in a wooden canoe with a motor attached to the back. This is what we did, about 25 feet long. First they took us up river a couple of hundred meters, then downriver a bit, and then dropped us off directly across the river at Picopiedras, Puerto Salgar´s port, though all that was there was some concrete steps leading to the river, no boats, no people. We paid them 8 bucks and felt kinda jipped, I told Fernando I should not speak next time we are negotiating, as during that, Fernando had asked my opinion on certain things and so I spoke and they asked where I was from and told them I was from Canada
We walked along the river, among dilapidated and abandoned structures, cranes, etc. People sat in their houses watching TV or chatting and drinking. Barefoot children played soccer on the concrete street. There was a sign that a dock was being constructed, but no other physical evidence. We passed an abandoned canoe and considered testing its worthiness, but discovered a crack in the bottom. Even good canoes leak considerably, leak considerably, but will last years if taken care off. and eventually crossed a bridge over the river patrolled by military. They didn´t allow us to take photos (though we sneaked in one) and searched our bags, yet as far as I could did little surveillance of the passing traffic. As the Magdalena grows, bridges become rarer and hence more precious.
We arrived back in La Dorada and went down to the bank to a little outpost of huts, sand, mud, and fisherman, but they had no canoes for sale. When one of them saw me taking photos, he told that was forbidden since we were in a military zone, even though their neighborhood was across the river and resembled a village from the 19th century, save for the electricity.
Back at the bridge we tried hitching, since it seemed safer with the military and trucks were often stopped anyway waiting to cross the bridge. Hitching is rare, but it is not illegal. Nobody picked us up, usually claiming that they were just going to Salgar, so we flagged down a little bus for Puerto Boyaca
Supposedly there were no taxis there, so we took one with a large crack on the windshield of the passenger side, and picked up a local woman from Serviez
The most notable thing was the port. A couple of dozen canoes, bright green, yellow red, were lined up a long the river, and along the banks, hundreds of pounds of fish were in wheelbarrows being loaded onto trucks with huge blocks of ice inside. The fish was bocachica, a medium sized silvery fish, that right now is very plentiful. They were strong together by the mouth with yarn and heaved into the truck. Finally, I felt like we had arrived at the river, a place where it plays an integral role in the lives of the people. Children frolicked in the water, climbing in and out of the canoes, as though they were a jungle gym.
We walked into a bar and found an infant sleeping on a blanket on the hard floor while music blasted. The music stopped and infant awoke and cried. The proprietor helped us arrange a fisherman to take us upriver a bit to La Pesca, a village with bars and restaurants on the water and where people swam.
In his large canoe, he took us past a concrete factory emitting fumes, and heavily protected and then the village, on the other bank in the department of Antioquia
A little after 8, our guy picked us took in in complete darkness under clear bright heavens back to Puerto Seriviez. Fernando drove a boat for the first time in his life. It is very different gliding along the river at nighttime, especially with no lights. Since your visual sense is deprived, you notice the lapping of the water more, and you can feel the river heaving ineluctably down, down, taking everything with it. The inevitability if a very tranquil feeling, and these few minutes where I sat at the bow have been perhaps my most content.
We went to the local woman´s house, DorAlaba and met her husband, who had a lame left arm. Physical defects, particularly birth are all to common here, and not well accommodated
We finished the night by playing Tejo, which consists of throwing a 3 lb. weight into a clay filled box that has 4 triangles, called manchas made from a substances that when you hit the triangle, explodes like a little mine. By hitting this you win, that is pretty much it.