Monday, August 24, 2009

M&M in Colombia: la Guajira

Since my first trip to Colombia in 1999, I always desired visiting la Guajira, the thin peninsula that from Colombia dives into the Caribbean Sea.

It was perhaps because of the suggestive image of the desert meeting the ocean. Perhaps because of the romantic idea of reaching the continent’s northernmost point - a sort of South American ‘North Cape’. Or perhaps because of the legends surrounding the feared Wayuu, the fiercely indigenous people living in the Region, known for living by their own rules, indifferent to the Colombian or Venezuela’s administrative borders and laws…

After about 10 years, I finally fulfilled this old dream.

The trip took us in three days from Riohacha, the capital of the region and gateway to the wild North-East, to Punta Galina, the spectacular tip of the continent, passing through the salt mines of Manaure, the remote Wayuu fishing village of Cabo de la Vela, the rocky cliffs of Ojo del Agua and Pilon de Azucar, and Playa Taroa, where the ochre dunes of the Guajira desert collide with the turquoise waves of the Caribbean ocean.

Our only companions were the wind and the sun during the day, and the starry skies during night. The prevailing feelings during these three days were peace, solitude and a sense of space - which unfortunately our pictures could not capture and reproduce (*).

(*) But have a look at these two short videos: (Playa Taroa), and (the view in front of the Wayuu's village)

We left la Guajira aware to have enjoyed a still virgin, almost untouched corner of the world. But with an inconvenient question: how will this place look like in ten years from now?

This place remained unknown to global tourism until very very recently. However, since it has appeared on the June 09 edition of the Lonely Planet, more tourists have come in the past two months than in the whole previous year. It is not an ‘easy’ destination: there are no infrastructures (we slept in hammocks hosted by the local families and showered with bucks of water), and getting there is far from being easy (there are no roads and no means of transports).

But still, without being rhetorical or naïf, here it comes the inconvenient question: what will the future of this place be? …

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