My Granny always said that bad news never arrives alone…think she added that they come in groups of three, probably having something to do with the BIblical trinity, as 3 is a ‘magical number’ of sorts in many different cultures.
So far, I have got two bad news to tell, and I have no wish to have to get a third one!
The local fishermen are darting by NANNA daily, heading out in the early morning and returning when they’re done for the day. Many very simple dugout canoes work their way even against the tide when they have to. I ‘ve been waving and smiling to all of them since we arrived, at least when I am on deck or in the cockpit and when I actually see them. Some don’t wave back, but just stare in a sullen fashion. Most wave back, making a ‘thumbs up’ gesture and smiling. A few young boys came over to NANNA, curious about us since they do not see many foreign vessels. And then an older man, always alone in his homemade canoe, paddling slowly and seemingly tired started comeing by and selling me some of his catch every other day or so, most likely when he had had a good day. Very friendly and polite we always exchange a few words and some big smiles. One particular day though, once I had paid him and he already had cast off NANNA, he said- almost in a casual tone of voice- that his 15 year old son got killed with a machete in another part of Tumaco they day before. Stunned, I just looked at him in disbelief for a few seconds, until his eyes told me that was no joke…. A life lost. A young life, full of dreams, of hope, and possibly of fear too. I will never know if the boy was involved in some ‘bad guys’ activities or if it was just a case of meaningless atrocity.
After a stuttered ‘Oh, that’s terrible I am so sorry to hear it’ that I heard myself say, he left me in a state of deep sorrow for the rest of the day. We are on an ‘everlasting vacation’ in the view of most people, and write our blogs as a series of innocent little ‘adventures’ and explorations in what is often a bit superficial touristy manners. Yet the real life is going on all around us, we become part of it or a while, then we heave anchor and take off over the horizon to the next ‘Paradise’ on our list. On an occasion like this, I really feel how unfair life is on this planet. A few have so much, materially and in terms of security, both socially and literally, while so many others still in the 21st century hardly have anything, but keep challenging life each new day.
The above related story happened while Isabelle went together with Jorge to his finca (farm) in the moountains of Central Colombia for a week. Naturally I wanted to go too, to see some of the interior of this big country, only second to Brazil in terms of the variety in flora and fauna in all of South América. Since I was worried about leaving the boats here, due to the fact that the holding is not that good, I decided to stay put and look after the boats and also work on NANNA as described in the previous post.
A couple days after the bad news from the fisherman, I received an email from Isa, telling me that they got robbed in Jorge’s finca a Friday night. Four men, heavily armed and wearing masks over their faces, suddenly came into the house and kept Isa and Jorge for over three hours. Cash, computers, cameras, cell phones, and of course; debit and credit cards. They threatened to kill them if they didn’t gave their PIN codes to them. Two of the men guarded them in the kitchen of the finca, while the other two took off to town to withdraw cash on the cards. It’s not easy here in Colombia to get money on ATM machines with our foreign cards, it seems like only one or two banks accept them and not at every office either. So the armed robbers came back to the finca, believing that Isa gave them the wrong pin code. I am very thankful to Jorge, who managed to make them believe that since her card is French, most Colombian banks do not accept it. In fact he can get cash himself, in just one bank inn his home town. So with this, they gave the cards back, after a thouogh wipe with a cloth to eliminate fingerprints, and took off.
Isa lost her new Netbook that she bought back in France in November, the camera I just had given her and a couple of USB sticks. Unfortunately, she had the first few chapters of the novel she started writing at the finca on one of those USB sticks. They also took a gold ring she got from her parents on her 18th birthday. Jorge lost more obviously. Most notably the wages for his workers that he was to pay them the day after. Also, he lost some of his innocence in regard to this type of crime, and Isa told me he just wanted to sell the finca and take off on his boat. Too early for that, in a few more years that will happen I am sure, but he got over it.
As scary as this experience no doubt was, it could have been a lot worse. A lot worse, I do not have to say any more.
Jorge, a true ‘caballero‘ (gentleman) of the real kind, felt so bad towards Isa for what happened, he even bought her a new computer once back here in Tumaco.
A very nice man and a good friend found here in the ‘wild west’. I sincerely wish him all the best with all his projects at the finca AND his dream to go cruising full time on his boat once his son is old enough to try out his own wings.
When I am typing these lines, we are almost ready to leave for Gambier Islands, in the southeastern part of French Polynesia. French Polynesia is a part of the vast Pacific Ocean covering an area as big as Europe(!) and we are planning to spend at least a year and a half there. This means a few months in Gambier, then a few more n the atolls of Tuamoto before heading north to the Marquesas to spend the next hurricane season (Dec-March) there before heading to the Society Islands, first of them the main town Papeete on Tahiti Island.
The passage from Tumaco to Gambier is about 3700 nautical miles and will probably take us around 4 weeks, very much depending on how long it will take us to ‘get out’ of the notoriously light and variable winds between here and the Galapagos Islands. We’ve loaded as much provisions as we can onbard NANNA and will add fresh produce just before we laeave. Looking forward to trade wind sailing for change!
P.S. Isabelle’s own story from the inland trip is -in french- on hre blog. Link to the right on this site. D.S.