The Rivers of Barranquilla*

It does rain heavy in the city. But only torrential rainfalls, no piffling spitting and short showers here. Nothing quite prepared me for what I witnessed yesterday though.

In the evening, it poured and poured and poured, relentlessly, and soon, not only was water dripping into the flat in all kinds of places (except the bedroom thankfully), it turned the road outside into a river. I’d been told this is what happens. Indeed there are road signs that warn of cars getting floated away in river filled roads. But to witnesses the slightly dipping road outside transformed into streaming torrent of water than seemed as if it was never going to subside was utterly gob-smacking. It was also kind of beautiful in its own way.

The people do have a good sense of humour and fun though. This is Barranquilla, the happiest place in the world after all. As the water streams down, many sit on the roads, lay flat on their backs and just let the stream run over their bodies! Most of the men are walking around in shorts and just soaking it all up. That’s understandable given that for most of the time it is so hot and humid the only respite is in air-conditioned malls or homes. It makes sense, therefore, to celebrate the rains.

So here I am spending a week in the city on various errands, and hoping to obtain a ticket for the Colombia vs Ecuador World Cup Qualifier for Brazil 2014, that takes place on Friday. To confirm the Colombian sense of humour, they hold it in this baking hot place, starting the match at 3.30pm, given it’s to their advantage! Well because of a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend, etc, I was able to obtain two tickets. So I will not only witness the match, but maybe see history happen, because if Colombia wins, they are through to Brazil next year. Anyway, I’m just so happy to have got these that I can barely express or feel my joy.

Much the same feeling overwhelmed me as I sat and salsa-d and sloshed down the Aquardiente (FireWater) at La Troja bar for mine and Paula’s birthday’s last Saturday night and Sunday morning. I did get tipsy but it was a nice warm kind of lightness. Unlike exactly the same time last year, I didn’t end up being hauled into a taxi (which I have no memory of) and puking up in the morning.

So the drama outside right now continues; flashing lightning and roaring thunder (yes, it can be felt) as I drift into sleep, continuing the process of becoming a resident of Colombia. I’m also beginning to experience some of the frustrations, and having to learn to cope with them. The pace of life here is just so laid back, and nothing is ever going to happen when it’s expected to, that you can’t do much but go with the flow.

One thing does feel odd: it’s gotten into September and I don’t have to think about the long dark night’s drawing in.  It feels dreamy to be here, still unreal, and it is. And when you’re carrying out a day-to-day routine and you suddenly spot little bright green parrots flying around in the wild, what else is there to feel but the beauty that is life?

*Apols/thanks to Boney M.

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