And we get there and no one speaks English – solamente espanol! Speaking of Espanol, after seeing Jennifer Lopez this week on Idol, is there any botox left in Lost Angeles? That city certainly gets more than its fair share of the country’s supply, but c’mon J’Lo, it’s time to get real girlfriend.
Asi, yo estoy aprendiendo espanol y ahora, yo permitire solamente mi empleados hablar espanol. It’s been a fun couple of weeks at the office as you can imagine. Before I get back to my trip to Colombia, I have to mention that one of my favorite reality shows is back, The Fabulous Beekman Boys. However, in the first episode, they, according to Entertainment Weekly (my bible), lament a “year of sacrifices” as if they are displaced Haitians. I really hope they aren’t reading this because I am having dinner with them in Los Angeles on Monday – I am so excited.
Back to the Pacific coast of Colombia: we arrive after that 14 hour journey and are immediately served a limonada and guess what, to sweeten it, we were offered Stevia in packets. Not that fake Truvia which is really erythritol, but actual Stevia- in the remotest jungle I had ever been to. And it wasn’t just there- Stevia was at every restaurant throughout the country that I went to. And what’s on our tables – chemical poison produced by a chemical company; YUMMO!
As I alluded to, Nuqui was in a lush tropical rain forest- one that stretches all the way to the Amazonian rain forest in Brazil. This place was vast, and I had never been able to use the word lush, except maybe to describe a few friends, in such a meaningful way.
It rained for the first four days of the trip- I don’t mean rain as we know it but sheets and sheets with no let up at all. Because they didn’t want us staying in town, we were placed in lodging about 45 minutes by boat from clinic.This meant taking a small boat with one motor and no cover back and forth to town for 45 minutes each way in the deluge in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Yes, there were pods of dolphins that would swim alongside the boat and flying fish and birds everywhere, but I was getting wet until I finally decided I would rather risk my life than to let my eye cream (la prairie) blind me one more day- I put my life preserver over my head. I was a much happier camper.
But then I thought of a better idea as it always works in America. You know the trick where you bring your umbrella and then it won’t rain. Well, I did it one better – I bought local rain boots, which I love by the way and have had many compliments on them already; and a slicker. Don’t you know, the next day the sun was shining and it only rained at night. I forgot to mention that because we went everywhere by boat, including house visits to people who were too sick or had no way of getting to town, our entire schedule was determined by the tides so I never knew when we were coming and going.
But, I must admit that the people were amazing. They loved the rain (juvia) and best of all totally appreciated what we were there to do- simply act as their physician for two weeks; at least I think they appreciated it and in my broken Spanish, I was convinced. I had no modern medicines at my disposal except for a few antibiotics and the rest were alternative medicines made from roots, vines and fruits from the region. I had a practitioner that would help me choose from the various western and Colombian medicines- it was a treat. One day we even got to travel up a river and by travel, I mean climb up this roaring river (with my new rain boots) and collect vines and leaves. There was even one vine that the native Indians to the area used as toilet paper because no matter how much it rained, the underside of the leaf was always dry.
Back at base camp, dinner was fish caught from that very same ocean that terrified me each morning and fresh vegetables- it was great. After dinner, there just so happened to be a rebel base camp a few meters away. The guys would come over and we would stay up for a few hours playing dominoes- again, feverishly trying to communicate with my feeble Spanish. Thank Apple for my Spanish translating app. We had no electricity, no hot water; yet the experience was sublime. It was submersion into another culture where there so much less and realizing- who needs it? That is travel, not tourism.
So, I was watching the season finale of Skins yesterday – not that this has anything to do with this story; or maybe it does? It was quite touching; not altogether realistic but it got me to thinking about the other MTV show that is very successful- no, not that one; I will discuss the reunion episode next week; but Teen Mom. That show basically tells young girls that all they have to do to triumph over adversity and get on the cover of US Weekly (no offense to US, as I am on their advisory panel for celebrity weights- I know, I know- don’t judge me like I do them) is to quit tenth grade to pop out a baby. And to quote GQ, that is thirty-one flavors of irresponsible.
I guess I bring that up because it goes back to my last point in so much as we have a lot at our disposal and have people that really don’t know their way and have no one to show them; we are being preached at by ideologues, poisoned by big agribusiness and big pharma; yet the poorest people in Colombia have stevia on their tables and the youngest child knows how to fish and feed themselves and one third of our children are obese. It just makes no sense.
So, after a three day weekend in Cartegena where I got to go to the International Film Festival (that’s a whole other Oprah which I will save for another time) and live in a fancy hotel and eat whatever I wanted (it’s me so get your mind out of the gutter), off we went to the Caribbean side of Colombia to a tiny island off the coast of Nicaragua called Providencia.
Providencia was like stepping back in time to a land with one road, motorbikes and horses as the only means of transportation but a decent hospital. By decent, I mean a place where people could go but with less equipment than my office. There was not even an EKG machine. That was true of everywhere I went except the major cities but it was okay. Everyone was like a family and everyone seemed happy and miraculously, most people spoke English. That made my life and the lives of those around me a lot easier- I won’t lie.
Those were essentially the highlights of this trip. At the end of this particular journey (as I am sure there will be many more), all I could think of was one of my favorite literary passages of all time. I think it’s by Emerson and it goes something like this: “We shall not cease from exploration. At the end of all of our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”
Traveling brings a sense of renewal to me and being able to aid another human along the way makes it even more memorable and worthwhile. I wish the same for everyone. Being able to share not just this experience but my life experiences through this blog has forced me to come out of my protective shell- you are all getting to experience the real, unfiltered me- Be afraid, be very afraid!
Until next time………………….Adios.