Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Amazon: Peaceful Corner of Columbia

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Amazon: Peaceful Corner of Columbia

Article excerpt

MANY foreigners planning a Latin American vacation rule out Colombia, mindful of the government's chronic inability to stem the high rate of murder and kidnapping.

Colombia's image abroad is still tied to two slain men, both named Escobar - Pablo, the billionaire drug lord who terrorized his country for years, and Andres, the soccer star who scored an own goal during the 1994 World Cup.

So when four English friends flew to Bogota for a visit, they were in an advanced stage of paranoia. "Is it safe?" they asked obsessively, wary of leaving my apartment. I suggested a trip to the Amazon, a corner of Colombia that caters to foreign tourists despite its isolation. Guides in the southeast border town of Leticia, wedged next to Peru and Brazil, offer river trips with boats, food and hammocks. It is one of Colombia's more peaceful areas. The vast jungle is of little strategic concern to guerrillas who congregate near oil fields, coal mines and farming regions to extort and kidnap. The flight was almost two hours from Bogota to Leticia, the steamy departmental capital where scooters zip along avenues fringed with lush grass. Clear plastic bags of water dangled over the terrace of our decrepit hotel. Mosquitoes, the story goes, take fright at their magnified reflections and flee. We strolled into Brazil for dinner, trading salsa for samba on street radios. Some locals call the crossover "Checkpoint Charlie," but there are no guards, no passport check. Our guide into the jungle was Rubiela, a young woman I had met on an earlier trip. We piled bags into a canoe with a motor and tarpaulin for shelter from sun and rain. Five days of chugging through jungle-lined muddy waters, slinging hammocks in villages, eating fish, rice and plantains. We fished for piranha, then swam in the same murky waters. Piranha strike only when they smell blood, we were told. One night, we hunted for water snakes on the shore with a long fork and a flashlight. On a jungle walk, sweating and slipping in mud and poking at giant centipedes in our path, we stumbled upon a ranch where a farmer scampered up a tree and dropped bunches of grape-shaped fruit. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.