A Boat Trip on the River Sinú

Sunday, April 08, 2018
Montería, Cordoba, Colombia
Today is Sunday.  We are tired after two days of church services, so we sleep in a little bit.  When we go for our walk, it is slightly hotter and a little more humid due to some recent rain. We walk and return to the room. I try to diligently write in my blog as we have plans for the afternoon.  We go to lunch at El Correo, as we have been invited to the Castro’s for dinner.  We know that most Colombians eat a big lunch and a small dinner, so we plan accordingly.
The Castro’s meet us at our hotel at 3 p.m.  We get two taxis, as five of us cannot fit in one taxi. (One of the laws that the Colombians actually adhere to; we figure the fine must be stiff!)  Scott and I ride with Olga.  We are heading down to the River Sinú for a pantoon-type boat ride on the river.  Olga informs us that she has called her TV video friend and she plans to film a video for her YouTube program “La miscelánea de Olgita.”  She records shows about interesting things about Monteria, or festivals, or how to do things, for the public broadcasting channel here.   They also put it on YouTube for her. Once we start the boat ride, she says that she wants to interview us on the boat, too. If I knew that I was going to be on TV, I would have put on makeup! J  Here is a link to one of her programs, but not the one about the river. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wWQDlJHJOPM
We have to drive through the city-center market.  It is bustling with people. I tried to snap a few shots, but it is hard to do from the back seat of a small taxi.  We arrive at the river.  The boat was scheduled to leave at 3:30 p.m., but the operators say we are going to wait a little bit until the sun gets a little lower-it will be cooler. 
A tiny, not full-grown hummingbird has fallen from a nest and ants are trying to eat it. Olga rescues it and sends someone off to take care of it until we return. She cups her hands like a small box and carries it to one of the shops. It’s really tiny!
Finally it is time to board the boat.  We have to walk down a smooth ramp that is virtually at a 45 degree angle.   They have a narrow strip (about 3 inches wide) of a sand/grip tape.  We are supposed to walk on that to go down.  I can see that this would NEVER be allowed in the United States for security reasons.  Scott slightly holds on to the rail, and slides down…rather precarious he says after finally reaching the bottom! Olga needs help going down.  She said she thought she was going to fall and break a leg. Tania drops her water bottle, but fortunately, it rolls straight and a police officer at the bottom of the ramp is able to rescue it before it falls into the river.
The River Sinú is a wide, smooth, and fairly slow moving river.  We continue south on the river and see daily life on the river.  We see an area which has a mud sand bar in the middle of the river and dozens of people are there playing in the river.  We see lots of other areas where mostly children and young people are cooling off in the river. We see LOTS of areas where people have thrown piles of trash on the river bank.  It is a shame that this river is trashed in this way.   Along the river, we see hundreds of small, wooden structures that look like dilapidated sheds at best.  Unfortunately, these are homes where hundreds of Montería’s poorest people live. What a contrast to the United States where river shores are where we generally find the most expensive homes!  We also saw many long wooden boats that the people use to do fishing on the river. Unfortunately, no one was fishing in them at the moment for us to watch.  We did see several people using lines, poles or cast nets to fish.
We returned to the dock.  They let us off next door where there were only a few steps and a gentle incline to walk up.  That was much safer to walk up than the 45 degree angle ramp. Olga retrieved her hummingbird. Someone had found a tiny box for it to “live in.” While we were waiting for Alejandro to come pick us up, the tiny bird was cheeping.  Olga went to a nearby restaurant and got a sugar packet and a condiment cup.  She made some sugar water.  She tried to hold the flapping bird so that she could put its’ beak in the water.   It did not cooperate! I thought she would hurt the bird by breaking its neck or bend a wing the wrong way.  Then she took a sip of the sugar water, and stuck the tiny bird’s beak in her mouth.  It sipped a little sugar water from her mouth.  I don’t think I would do that, but Olga did! She continues to stick the little birds beak in her mouth for a few minutes…Scott respectfully tries not to laugh…as this is serious business!
Alejandro dropped us off at our hotel. We freshened up before walking to Olga’s for dinner at 6:30 p.m. Dinner was turkey, sandwiches, salad, patacones, and fruit. The turkey was a “live” turkey on Tuesday when we first visited, but Olga butchered it on Wednesday. We remember the Castro’s dog named “Gato” that is “cat” harassing the turkey in the dark terrace…after dinner on Tuesday. Robinson and Alejandro went to other parts of the house, but we stayed and talked with Olga and Tanya for a good hour and a half. Scott and I were both tired, but it was a fruitful conversation. As we went to leave, Scott talks with Tanya at the end of the sidewalk by the road for another half hour…pretty common. We’re ready to leave and we end up talking for quite a while. This is all part of the reason we are there…and we don’t complain, but Scott does get tired, and seeks a teeny bit of quiet now and then.
We returned to our room. Essentially, the purpose of our trip to Montería—encourage the brethren we serve and let them know we deeply love them—was done.  We would be leaving in the morning. We took much needed showers after spending the bulk of the afternoon in the sun. Scott tightens up some last minute details, answers some email, and we head to bed.
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