Acc: Navy room
No paddling tomorrow
I had great sleep, but my body was still very sore this morning. Time to rest in Tumaco! It was raining heavily anyway…cozy…
Dario and Felipe drove me to town this morning to first stamp my passport. This was an easy going and fast job with a friendly officer.
I have now unlimited stay in Colombia! Maybe I should move here…
Next was the dreaded cell phone job – in no country I have visited, was it ever going smooth and easy… but here, it was only a problem uploading the money we couldn’t solve, after buying the sim card at Claro’s, as after the morning’s heavy rain and quite a well noticeable earthquake, the system was down. Nothing unusual…we solved the problem later at night, and my phone worked!
So far my first impression driving through Tumaco town, where most houses are built on stilts on two islands, was not that bad and chaotic as I thought when you may be googling “security Tumaco”… The small space and money they have available was reasonably efficiently used to accommodate many, many people. But it is a working city, with paved roads, moderately clean and (not to me visible) aggression…if you overlook the many, many soldiers and policemen and civil guards standing on each and every corner well armed…
Back to the Navy base, we had lunch in the casino, and I shot some pictures of the amazing one-way semi-submarine drug smuggling boats, a huge illegal petrol transporting boat with four engines and dozens of petrol barrels (they need the petrol for processing the planted coca to consumable drugs) on it, plus many, many more illegal narcotraffic boats the Navy caught all those years. Now they are rotting as a sad(or successful?) display in the tidal zone.
Then it was time for the marine parade Capitán de Fregata Carlos Delgado announced yesterday on the phone to me. I was asked to participate in my kayak…but as I fear nothing more on my recovery days off than saltwater on my skin and moving my paddling muscles, I preferred to jump on a Navy boat. I had the idea it would be a Naval forces parade with many uniformed people and military tamtamtam music, but I was wrong – it was Carnival in Tumaco!!!
How lucky was I…arriving just this weekend to get the best happy and friendly introduction to Pacific Colombia a tourist can get…besides here are really not any tourists to be seen, due to those security reasons. It was easy to forget them this afternoon!
Our Navy boat was one of the first to arrive at the town center, and it really looked and sounded to me like Venice transported to Africa… houses built on stilts everywhere on the water’s edge, more or less solid, boats of all sizes everywhere. The water is muddy like in all river areas, and obviously quite dirty with a lot of floating trash.
Generally, the Colombian fishing boats are large, mighty and powerful compared to what I have seen in the other countries before. Still, the wooden canoe dug out of a single tree paddled standing up by one or two guys exists, but the general size boat is BIG and somehow scary looking with the mighty up swept bow. If I’d be meeting one of them out there on the ocean with a bunch of men in there with bad ideas against my person and equipment, I would be quite an easy catch for them to fish me out of the water…good to have the Navy guys on my side.
But I saw only happy party people today! Still, two or three Navy boats, a police boat, a heavily armed marine infantry boat and a variation of civil guard boat kept the about hundred party boats in order. Not that it looked necessary, they behaved actually well, just having fun with the six or eight “Carvival Queen” boats on the top, dancing to music played by a band on almost every boat (even if it was only banging with a stick on the side of the boat in heavy rhythm…). Foam spray was very popular, and carrying a pot or bucket for a water fight from boat to boat was essential. No fancy water cannons around though…
The beautiful young, amazing Carnival Queens on every boat were all dressed in glittery short Hot Pants and tops andhigh heels, and their job was basically to wave to the crowd shaking their sexy bums. On all the party boats promenading the city line, past the many thousand spectators, I saw tons of flesh on the front and backside moving happily jumping and dancing up and down, but no bare boobs or butts like you may occasionally spot in similar European events.
But many, many party boats had “alternative” Carnival “Queens” on the bow shaking and waving similarly, but they were just very obviously gay men dressed as women. They had all a lot of fun!
Our Navy boat with Felipe on the lead and Carlos as the calmest and most skillful driver you can imagine in such crowded water traffic, had the job of “traffic police” to guide the many boat captains to their positions. Still it was not really an organized boat driving parade…just fun! We also had to “rescue” a young nursing woman from one boat, to get help start some engines, and to eventually tow one broken down boat in.
I think I was smelling all afternoon more boat engine exhaust than my lunges can stand, but I was really fascinated by the slowly developing crowd,from 2 pm until 5pm , becoming more and more noisy and getting into party mood. I studied interesting faces and figures everywhere, well hidden behind my sunglasses and Tumaco Coast Guard cap I eventually got presented, and was really, really happy NOT to be squeezed among those many boats sitting low down in my kayak!!! The center of action was the Carnival, not me, who undoubtedly would have had some attention from foam shots and water buckets. I may have been a star Eskimo roller in my time, but I was soooooo happy to be high and dry on the Navy boat. They didn’t get a single foam shot or water bucket…respect! The high speed drive back to the Navy harbor was a reward of the day’s job.
Another drive in darkness into Saturday night’s Tumaco party city for getting eventually the needed charge for my phone showed me eventually Tumaco at night – all good being escorted by my Navy men. But not sure if I should be here as a single traveling European woman…we had to drive quite some back streets due to the blocked roads for the party, and Dario was almost lost. But it was only a small island with a happy population!!!