My short excursion to a Farm, up in the high foothills of the Sierra Neveda de Santa Marta Mountains, which surround Santa Marta and occupy most of the Departamento (same as State in the US) of Magdalena in Northwest Colombia.
09/23/10 8:02a. Today, today, today. Today I feel the beginning of a sense of rebirth... (not the Baptist kind) I arose early this morning at around 6:00a. For getting up so early, I have a tremenduous amount of energy, which is odd. I am staying at a farm at about 1000m up in the high foothills of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta range. A friend, and a fellow Buddhist, Patrick owns the farm which lay upon approx. 25 acres of beautiful Colombian terra firma. The house is very unique in design and is positioned at the confluence of two rivers rivers; Rio Mansanares (beautiful name), and Rio Samanas del Limon. I am the only person staying at this wonderful place and have been blessed with the solitude and company of the hummingbirds, butterflies, two cats (Aluna and Tara), Goldfinches, huge boulders, babbling from all directions, the smell of beautiful blooming Ginger, the antiquity of pre-colombian existence in the form of hierglyphs, (or is it petroglyphs) and ancient stone stairways that climb throughout the mountains all of which lay testiment to the exisitance to the toils of indigineous people whom I feel would smile upon me. I feel they'd smile upon me because of the love and deep passion I've developed for their land that we are sharing so many thousands of years apart. ...and it's astonished me as to how quickly this has happened!
Allow me to regress.
I arrived here at the farm mid day yesterday. The trip up gave me a head's up of the experience that lay ahead. It began as a conventional journey; A Palamino bus to Bonda, when then (Patrick and I) changed to what's called a "Moto-Taxi" which is really just riding on the back of a motorcycle (dirt bike) piloted by men that look like soldiers from Starwars, with their helmets. I had my Mochilla and a small bag of toiletries. I climbed onto the rear of the motorcycle (MC) and off we went. I could only suppose that Patrick would be following behind me, as it was very difficult for me to look to the rear with my two bags clutched to my sides, and the as-of-yet nameless man driving this MC and having total control of my life for the duration of this journey up into the mountains which only a three or four years ago, was a hot bed refuge for bandits.
The change began rapidly. The noise and static of Santa Marta quickly melted into the muted accoustic effects of a dirt bike's knobby, rutted tires compressing soft but not liquid mud which formed the road, or perhaps "pathway" on which we we were traveling. A soft putter from the MC's motor would climb and descend the scale as the driver engaged and disengaged the transmission and throttle to negotiate the many up's and down's and boulder patterns and ruts, and stream crossings. Quite an experience!
Out of the side of the road, suddenly appeared two police officers riding tandom on a MC obviously more capable than the somewhat juvenile dirt bike we were riding. They came around to our right and brought my driver to a stop. It's not as if we were moving at any significant speed. One could never negotiate the kind of obstacles were meeting traveling at anything more than, say, 15mph max. I wondered why on earth they would want to stop the likes of us! Once stopped, I finally had an opportunity to look completely to the rear and there was no sight whatsoever of Patrick or his driver. I normally try to maintain some sense of rationale as I try to figure out any situation, but I couldn't help but think thoughts such as "para-military", or rogue cops, or even thugs dressed as police. I tried to listen as closely and carefully as possible as the officer driving the MC spoke in the typical rapid-fire, staccato fashion used by locals in Northern Colombia! It was very difficult to understand anything except a few half-sentances throughout much of the single-sided conversation! I heard things such as "...everyone in the world...", "you must take", "...these people...", etc., all in a very stern tone. In the end, I heard my driver ask "Can I continue to take him up?" The police said "Yes", albeit reluctantly.
We embarked again on our journey. The journey continued continuously in an upward direction. As I developed more and more faith that my driver was very good at this sort of thing, my grip slowly loosened from his shoulder and I began to relax and I began noticing how the scenery was morphing into a beautiful mountainous region with steep cliffs, tropica and subtropical blends of vegetation, palms battleing for airspace against majestic Mohogany and Mango. Waterfalls and rivers were speeding their way to the coast. The landscape was laced with Morninglory and spears of crimson Ginger clingling to steep mountsides. It was changing right before my eyes as we ascended mud hole by mud hole on the narrow path to what I was to call home for the next two days.
Eventually we made it to the terminus of of our journey. Without the driver knowing it, or saying a single word, other than to the cops, in my mind, we had become very good friends. I was more comfortable now, yet I could still see no farm, and worse yet, no Patrick! As I hopped off the MC, the driver took off his helmet. It was the first time I had seen his face. This was good, because I was beginning to wonder "Was this it?". "Do I pay this guy and allow him to leave me here?" "I mean, this IS beautiful up here, but..." Hmmmm. As soon as I saw the man's face, his bright eyes and genuine smile my apprehension was relieved. He and I talked for several minutes as I told him of my impressions of his beautiful Sierra. I then asked him, "What was the problem with the police?" He said, "There really was no problem, they simply were lecturing me about you not having a helmet." Hmmm, I was all freaked out over that? Jeez. That's what fear will get you! Wait, "one more thing", I asked, "where the hell are we?" The driver driver pointed to a barely visible foot bridge suspended over a bustling set of rapids; the water was very swift below, at least to my eye. I thought "Well hell, why not!" So we traipsed over the foot bridge, it responded to every step with a counter-motion, seemingly double that of the original step, turning the bridge into what felt like managing a Bronco in a rodeo. Once on the other side, I could see a building that straddled the river, clinging above the bank. A beautiful sight indeed. This was Patrick's farm. The building was designed in a pseudo-Colombian style. For this area, it was constructed mostly of concrete and was exceptionally appointed with a rustic feel and unbelievably situated at the confluence of two rivers. My driver escorted me across the bridge and to the house where I paid him; $2.50 plus $1.00 tip to make that unbelievable trip up here with me clenched to his back. I was very appreciative... and so was he. He decided to wait with me until Patrick arrived which was about 10 minutes later. I bid my previously thought of "para-military" friend goodbye and greeted Patrick.
Patrick showed me around the place beaming with pride typical of an Irishman. He should be proud, he cleared and built this place, almost by hand over a period of five years. He really beamed when I responded positively to his off to show me around his property! I don't know how old Patrick is, he's greyed with glasses, but boy is he alive: "Awake" as Buddha puts it. I really like the man.
We set off to view his property. Patrick had donned a pair of rubber boots, his normal pair of Bermudas, a walking stick, and an eagerness to show me the fruits of his labor over the past many years. We climbed a stone stairway (don't know whether or not it was pre-Colombian or not, probably a combination of both new and old) to a mostly completed guest facility. It was beautiful in design; definately an Asian bent. It was approx. 20m above the main house on the river on a semi-cleared terrace of land. The land was planted with beautiful tropical vegetation, and the river below had diminished to a very pleasant drone. Above this building were other terraced pieces of land Patrick believes well suited for places of meditation, and I do too. Almost sitting atop the first building was an additional building that, though almost completely finished, is intended to be a sanctuary for he and his girlfriend Diana.
IN PROGRESS, a person needs the computer.