Sat 09/02-2013 Day 389

Three beauties of the Cranival in Tumaco

Pos: here
Loc: Tumaco
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…

No problems at the Migracion into Colombia. Thanks!

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!

Tumaco houses on stilts

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…

An official Tumaco street sign...soldier checkpoint coming soon.
One of the two semi-submersiable one-way drug smugling submarines seized by the Colombian Navy. Loaded to the rim with drugs and two guys, they tried to get across the border.
This huge petrol smuggling boat with four engines, also seized by the navy guys
The whole fleet of seized drug smuggler's' boats, rotting now in the mud

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.

One of the biggest open Navy boats, with a huge selection of engines to the right
Driving to the "Marine Parade" - the Carnival of Tumaco! Please note my new crew hat! Felipe to my right, Dario standing at the back right.
A "sinker" life vest of the kind any serious sea kayaker should also have... :-))
And not even equipped on the back yet...Camel Back, flares, ropes, two belts, everything you you can strap there.

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!!!

The creative colorful boats are getting ready to embark the Carnival Queens

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!

Let's party in Tumaco!!!
The press boat with TV crews and live report

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.

A typical Tumaco powerful big fishing boat
"El Oceano" - a HUGE open boat!

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.

The boat of the police men at the Carnival
A serious display of the armed forces at the edge of the party
Two of the beautiful Carnival Queens
The beauties on the sea horse boat
...and the ones on the Turtle boat.
This "Carnival Queen" on the bow here has her own beauty

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…

Noisy music!!!!
And fun!
Tumaco's youngsters having fun

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.

One of the many gay Carnival Queens in the bow having fun!

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!

"Traffic director" Felipe on the bow
Felipe tries to keep the many party boats organized
Carlos driving concentrated our Navy boat through the Cranival Crowd crowd on the water
View out of the rear...

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.

The landings are getting crowded!



…more spectators…
This shed on rotten stilts has some dangerous tilt to one side...
Some traditional wooden house and boat scene
A typical wooden stilt house in Tumaco
Another lonely dugout canoeist
Please note the bow and the "paddle" and the guys's smile when he noticed he was photographed!
A floating wooden dugout "bath tub" with two youngsters - the lack of a paddle is helped out by the boy in the front with his hands.
At top speed through Tumaco's stilt houses...

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.

The parade of the Carnival boats in front of the bridge
The bridge is packed with spectators

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!!!

The new crew member of the Guardacostas in Tumaco

10 comments on “Sat 09/02-2013 Day 389

Pedro J. Castro

I have to agree with you about the comment “Maybe I should move here ^^
The worst thing that could happen to you in the beautiful COLOMBIA is that you would like to stay there….!!!
Enjoy the tropical forest scenery !
Enjoy the colorful Colombian folklore !


siendo una de las reinas de belleza que tendría que fijar el bronceado primero y que se necesita un gran par de pantalones cortos. colombia disfrutar y estar a salvo.

Jörg Hofferbert

Liebe, geschätzte Freya,

jetzt wende ich mich in einer ganz anderen Sache an Sie. Diese Beiden;art1272,3661298

sind Landleute von uns und speziell quasi Nachbarn aus meinem Landkreis. Falls Du den Hauch einer Chance siehst, aber ausdrücklich ohne Dich dabei selbst in Gefahr zu bringen, dann interveniere bitte. Es wäre der Wahnsinn, wenn Du zur Freiheit dieser Beiden irgendetwas tun könntest (wie gesagt, nur wenn Du abschätzen kannst, nicht selbst in Gefahr zu geraten). Niemand, auch nicht ich, will Dich da in irgendetwas hereinziehen. Mach´ Dein Ding.

Herzlichen Dank


Jörg Hofferbert

A mixture out of carnival at Venice and Rio de Janeiro. Tumaco may be not so nice like venice, but the carnival is more lively. And the beauty girl´s are at least so beauty like the brasilians. And Freya is the queen of all them. 🙂

Randall Lackey

Thanks for sharing the columbian carnivale with us. All great pictures. Id loved to have seen you in those sequined shorts.You would have been their all time queen. Glad to hear you enjoyed the day and well taken caree navy boys. We all thank them for your safety in Columbia.Enjoy your time there. Safe paddling. Randall

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