Barranquilla is a little-known tourist city. In fact, in the Lonely Planet guide to South America it states that 'there's little to detain the traveller here'. While this may be partly true - it is a mainly industrial city - there are still hidden delights to be found for those who look hard enough. And one of these is the ride out to where the Magdalena River meets with the Atlantic Ocean: Bocas de Ceniza.
|Ocean to the left, river to the right: |
the contrasting colours of Bocas de Ceniza
|Mojarra frita: a coastal speciality|
|Bike, then train: a regular commute|
|Watch out for those lizards!|
|A Ceniza home - the ultimate fishing shack|
|Sebastian has found himself some dinner|
All in all, this place enchanted me - with the roaring of the waves and the smell of salt in the air, the pure nature of the scene was truly liberating. Which made the shock more profound when a friend told me that the government has plans to tear down the whole lot in order to make a 'super port'. Quite aside from destroying one of the only decent tourist attractions in the city, the lives of these people - some of whom have lived there for thirty years or more - will be turned completely upside-down, and in a country where internal displacement already affects 4.7 million people, adding to that number seems like putting salt on a wound. Now, I understand that a port brings commerce, and commerce brings much-needed wealth, but that wealth seems irrelevant to those for whom 'the sea is my life and the means of sustaining my family'. It seems such a shame that the source of such a lifestyle should be ripped apart for something that could surely be built somewhere further along the road - we are on the coast, after all.
|A fishing rod and a hammock - what more do you need?|
So what can we do? Well, I am no politician, but I think it's important to raise awareness of what's happening - the only article I managed to find on this topic was a small piece in the local newspaper written in June that you can read here (if you read Spanish, that is). If you are interested, I would also encourage you to write to the local government at firstname.lastname@example.org. Finally, and most sadly, accept that none of this is probably going to make any difference. I am only one foreigner, who, really, has no idea about the issues that are at stake here. But I read the messages these people put on their walls, and my heart goes out to them. They at least deserve to be listened to.
|"My name is Gilberto Hernandez.|
What I like about this place is the peace
you breathe here, fishing and dreaming
to the sound of the waves."
|"I find myself here, on the Bocas de Ceniza|
causeway, because the sea is my life and the
means of supporting my family, through fishing.
This is why I never want to leave this place
that I love more and more every day.