Traveling to the heart of the Colombian Amazon
Although I have visited many places in the Colombian Amazon, I will never cease to be surprised. This trip came to me entirely unexpectedly, even outside the time frame I had planned to be in Colombia. In a casual conversation, I received an invitation. It took me only a few minutes to readjust my itinerary and change my return tickets.
A Wonderful Group of Women
I had the pleasure of meeting my group In Bogot￡. I was the oldest of seven women of different ages, from 23, the youngest, to 65. We were excited to share with Carolina, our leader, who has been visiting this region for ten years. She’s been helping the poorest and most remote communities with supplies for educating the children and supporting their moms to provide them with a better life.
What did we have in common besides knowing Carolina? We all went with a deep desire to share our time and interests with the communities, but above all, we wanted to understand and learn from them.
We arrived in Leticia, the capital of the department of Amazonas, after a flight of more than two hours from Bogota. Upon opening the plane door, we were welcomed by a breath of hot and humid air that would accompany us throughout our trip. The tuk-tuk ride through the congested and colorful streets immediately transported me to another world.
Leticia the City with Three Borders
Leticia shares an open border with Tabatinga, Brazil, and across the river with Peru. For this reason, the languages of the indigenous ethnic groups and different accents of Spanish and Portuguese can be heard there. It is a very picturesque place, crowded with people and street sales.
In its streets and open stores, you can find everything from machinery and tools to religious images, clothing, medicines, and everything the imagination allows.
We walked in the plaza among the stalls selling fruits, corn, yams, cassava, and fresh fish, and then we entered a traditional restaurant for lunch. While we ate a stew of catfish, plantain, and yucca, we started getting to know each other.
The Best Gift
My companions were a wonderful gift for me since I always travel alone. This trip allowed me to be in a group with other women with whom we shared stories, laughter, and the immense desire to do our bit in these communities.
At the same time, we were committed to remaining connected with other women who live in a magical and abundant world but where the government’s abandonment keeps them stuck in a powerless and hopeless situation.
The encounter with the river
After finishing our lunch, we searched for the river, which recedes in the dry season, and the water level can drop up to 15 meters. The canal that allows boats to board near Leticia is unusable, and the houseboats and docks on the banks are stuck until river levels rise again.
The boats wait for their passengers in the main channel about 20 minutes away, and we begin the journey upstream along the majestic river. The distant shores are just a green strip where the gigantic ceibas stand out.