The trip to Colombia started in Bogota, in February 2020. Our enchantment with this country set in motion our journey to discover it. We were about six days in the Colombian capital, and then we flew to Cartagena de Indias, a touristic site and a mandatory destination in our journey. For us, the magic of this place originated from the sensation of being in a city that was both north and south of America. It was here that someone suddenly mentioned to us the Carnival of Barranquilla, a city that was three hours away from Cartagena.Because of our knowledge and interest in the popular Andean festivals, we knew we couldn’t miss this carnival. We had been to the Carnival in Río, which is the largest one in South America, but we knew that the carnival in Barranquilla was the second most frequented one, and so without a doubt we had to see it.
The Colombian summer was everywhere from the floats to the people in the streets, and the carnival could already be felt in the Colombian coasts. During the carnival, Barranquilla shuts down its regular activities and it all turns into a party that fuses the history and the colors of Colombia. In it come together the history of the Afro Caribbean, indigenous, and mestizos, who in their garments make a display of the cultural heritage possessed by Colombia.
Pleased with the great party in Barranquilla and curious about the diversity of fauna and flora, we decided to go a little higher into the Sierra Nevada where the entrance of the Colombian Caribbean is found. There, we visited the indigenous of the native community of Koggis. They live in cabanas located inside of their community, away from modern life. Their economic activity is focused on the agriculture of cacao and in artisan work. In the Sierra Nevada one can observe the mix of the elements of the Caribbean Colombian and the indigenous people of the Sierra Nevada. The great natural diversity of the region promotes the intertwining of these different cosmo-visions.
On our way back to Peru, we decided to go through the Colombian Amazonia, specifically the Leticia zone, a tiny city located in the boundaries of Peru, Brazil and Colombia, called Las Tres Fronteras, The Three Frontiers, an area loved by adventurers. In this region one can discern three different cultures each with their own traditions. However, deep down one could feel their unity during the pandemic. It was at this point that we found out about the arrival of the COVID-19 virus in our continent. We were first very nervous and uncertain since the plans to explore this beautiful place were suspended as we had to face a strict quarantine. With the help of the Peruvian consulate we were able to return to Perú where another quarantine was waiting for us.
Our enthusiasm to enjoy the triple frontier was interrupted with the sound of an alarm that announced the presence of the virus, which had been introduced through the Brazilian side. The first person infected was a Colombian man who lived in the Brazilian side. People were amused, scared, stunned. Some of them could not believe it; they thought it was a lie until the journalists began to narrate stories about the effects of the virus and to count the dead. This was more terrible than a war since the enemy was invisible.
The adventure became a trip of survival. It was no longer possible to go to Iquitos so we could to return to Lima. All we had left to do was to contact the Peruvian embassy in Colombia and conduct a repatriation. They gathered up a group of Peruvians and brought us all back and safe to Peru. In Lima, where everything was upside down, being healthy was hopeful enough.
Once in our city and protected against the virus, the news reminded us witness of the daily deaths. The pandemic was generating 200 deaths each day, and so extreme measures were taken. Empty streets, hospitals at full capacity, and economic uncertainty, produced a strange eeriness, as if the world was coming to an end.
The charming and recognized surf teacher for children, George Jara, told us that it was a great shock for the sports community and the lovers of the sea when the government decided to close all surf organizations and the access to the sea. As the beaches slowly started to reopen and sports people were allowed again to enjoy the water, we were able to see him smiling again.