Thursday, December 04, 2008

“What am I Going to Do If the Boat Sinks?”

An Exciting Vacation on the Pacific Coast of Colombia

A month ago my 87-year-old Mother Praxedes decided she wanted to return to her home town, a small fishing village called Jurubida, located on the Pacific Coast of the Choco region of Colombia. *The Choco is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the “wettest region in the world” with more than 40 FEET of rainfall per year. In order to get there we took a flight from the south central mountain valley city of Cali where I live to the northern city of Medellin mere hours from the border of Panama, and from there another flight by small plane to the county seat town of Nuqui on the Pacific coast. Satena Airlines provided a wheel chair for my Mother, due to her age and the fact that she is not able to walk very well.

The 600-plus population fishing village of Jurubida is one hour away from Nuqui by outboard boat. After arriving in Nuqui we took a small wooden launch to Jurubida. One of our neighbors, a man nick-named “Feo”, from the village piloted the launch. We did not have life vests or any safety equipment. At about the half way point of the passage, heavy rains started and we had strong winds and big waves buffeting our tiny craft. In the middle of the storm the outboard motor failed. Feo worked frantically to bail water and get the motor started. Now we were in the ocean trying to bail the water out from the boat to keep us from sinking. We were cold, wet and praying for our lives.

“What am I going to do if the boat sinks”, a Mother asked me. “My daughter can’t swim at all.” The look in her eyes spoke volumes of the terror she felt.

Trying to comfort her I responded, “If that happens, the best thing to do is to hold on to the boat after it turns over.”

I gazed over towards the shore, at least a couple of kilometers distant. I’d try to swim for it if it came to the worst and the sea calmed down some. Both Nuqui and Jurubida were on the coast a mere four to five kilometers or so apart. You could easily see the lights of Nuqui from the beach of Jurubida at night. The launches essentially paralleled the beach a mile or two offshore for most of the trip. You can even walk from the one to the other with the exception of having to cross two rivers emptying into the sea. One river, the Tribuga, is very broad and deep enough to allow even large ocean-going ships to enter its mouth.

Finally the storm ceased, the motor started, we continued and arrived safely.

After being in Jurubida for about three days, the rumors began. The guerrilla were coming that night to kill everybody in town. At 6 pm not one soul was on the street, everybody was locked in their house praying. The few young, inexperienced soldiers who were in town were very nervous. Then they started running around shouting and clapping*, when we heard that noise we thought the shooting had started so my Mother, cousins, nephew and nieces all hid under our beds. Thank God nothing happened that night.

*Note: This is a military tactic designed to disguise the number of combatants. By moving around and clapping, the constant changing of position, sound echoes and reverberations make it nearly impossible to determine the number of soldiers there are.

The very next day I took a boat back to Nuqui trying to catch a cargo boat south to Colombia’s largest Pacific coast seaport city, Buenaventura, because I was already out of money. My Mother stayed in Jurubida. When my relatives in Nuqui found out about my travel plans, they warned my not to take the cargo boat “Luchador” because my life could be in danger since the cargo boat was under threat by extortionists and the guerrilla. It is one of only two cargo boats that regularly make the trip up and down that section of Colombia’s coast. I called my husband and waited until he wired me the money to fly back to Cali. It had been the most “exciting” vacation I have ever had. Still, even though I was now back home, it wasn’t over. Within a couple of days I knew I had contracted “parasites” from the food and water I consumed during my “exciting vacation”. Three days treatment with Zentel and Secnidol and my ordeal was finally ended.

Thank Jehovah God.


This story is as was told to me by Doris Lopez in November 2008. I have been to Nuqui and Jurubida several times myself, traveling both by air and cargo boat. The fishing village of Jurubida is accessible only by sea by small motor launch. Nuqui has an airport which handles small passenger aircraft only, during daylight hours. The week following this story, a plane crash occurred there which killed nine of the approximately dozen or so people aboard.

Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, author and speaker. He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 125 countries worldwide. Get your FREE, pdf format report on CD or via e-mail, "Creative, Dynamic Ways to Motivate and Teach English as a Foreign Language to Diverse Groups of Reluctant Learners" by requesting the title at:

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