“I have always loved the desert. One sits down on a desert sand dune, sees nothing, hears nothing. Yet through the silence something throbs, and gleams…”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
We sit on the bus and we drive. It is 7am and everyone is tired. We drive and drive and drive. At first there still are trees and flowers but as we keep on driving the trees get less and the bushes take over. We drive through a cactus forest. We see water but they say the water is not real – it is a fata morgana caused by the heat and the reflections of the sky. We drive closer and the “water” disappears. I have heard stories about people from France who drove through the desert and got kidnapped. It scares me, especially because no one understands how the driver seems to understand where he is going, but mum says that he grew up in Cabo de la Vela, so we trust him.
We stop by a place where they yield salt out of the ocean water. Even though we are right next to the sea it is incredibly hot and sunny. The guide explains in spanish about the process and my mum translates. My dad buys two packets of salt. Later we stop by a tiny village where the indians live. I think they are incredibly beautiful and I try to find a traditional dress. I find some but they don’t look good on me. Most people look at us with a curious expression on their face, some look a bit sceptical. At one o’clock we decide to leave the village and drive the rest of our way to Cabo. We arrive late in the afternoon and eat dinner, because the only thing we have had so far besides breakfast are fritos.
All inhabitants of the village are indigenos. The children come and try to sell us bracelets and mochilas while we eat. We decide to go and watch the sunset on the cliffs nearby. The drive on the cliffs feels adventurous because again the streets do not really feel like streets but we clap when the driver, Oscar, manages to drive up the cliffs safely. I am a bit worried how he will manage to do it in the dark after sunset but little do I know that it will actually be fun!
On the cliffs we meet a group of colombian students – over 100 people – that came to Cabo de la Vela to study tourism. The boys of the group want to take pictures with me because I am blonde and I talk to one of the girls who speaks english. She writes down her email adress and Facebook name and I promise to add her as soon as I have internet again. The sky is foggy so the sunset is not clear, but we enjoy our cold aguila and jugo de manzana. Afterwards we drive back to the hostel and while some of us eat a little bit more, the others sit together and organise the arrangements regarding the rooms and hammocks for the night. I decide to sleep in a hammock. Afterwards, I go down to the beach and look at the milky way with my mother, aunt and cousin.
I sleep well in the hammock, even though my 53 mosquito bites on my legs keep me awake at times. I wake up at 4:30, right at cock-crow. I can hear people walking around but I do not see anyone. Slowly dawn arrives, more and more people and animals wake up. I see that my cousin fled into one of the bedrooms, because his hammock is empty. The others are still lying in their hammocks, sleeping soundly.
When my mum wakes up we decide to walk around a bit, until the others wake up, as the sun rises.
After breakfast we shower and pack our backpacks to get on the road again. We drive.
After failing to find a herd of flamingos that we had planned to see, we get invited by a Wayuu woman (wayuu are a local tribe there) to visit her family. They live in self made wooden shacks with only one room per house. They dress us in their traditional clothes and paint our faces with their paint. They tell us about their tribe, their traditions and their lifestyle and they teach us traditional dances. Later they cook us their food and we share. Meat of a goat, rice and a tropical fruit. We drink some kind of juice. We say anayawatsu – thank you – to everything they do for us and they smile. As a white woman I am very interested in their lifestyles, yet I try not to ask any insensitive questions.
The drive back to Barranquilla takes hours and we arrive very late. We get to meet my sister and her fiancé and finally the last sister of my mother arrives with her family. Her son has lived in colombia and is happy to be back. The hotel is very comfortable but I have to get over my claustrophobia to take the elevator upstairs.It feels good to have a real shower again and my whole suitcase instead of only a backpack. I am excited to see my american cousin the next day, I haven’t seen her in four years. I sleep in a room with my two other girl cousins of my mum’s family. We turn on the music, dance, sing and laugh and finally fall asleep.