The Treasure to find a Home away from Home

I spend one night in Chefchaouen, the blue city, set in the Rif Mountans, where fields of cannabis are blossoming. Morocco is the largest producer of cannabis worldwide, even though the consumption of drugs is illeagal and can be punished with prison. The town is beautiful but small, so I find some hours of wandering just enough to move on the next day. On the rooftop of my hostel I find the people who had been staying in Chefchauen for weeks, smoking and smoking am smoking, sitting in the same spot, probably until today.

All the nice buses to Fez have been sold out to so the next day I mount a vehicle that is way past its time. The air is flirring with heat and a guy tries to get me to pay 5 Dirham for pointing me out the free seat, what I did not ask him to do. I look at him very firm and say la (no). Somehow I convinced him that there will be no negotiating about that and he moves on to harass a French couple, the only other foreigners on the bus. The more intimidated they seem, the more he puts on his play in the arena of global tourist scam circus. They pay him and with a smirking grin he leaves the bus. I start to talk with the French girl, Coralie, a journalist from the Normandie. The heat in the crowded bus with no AC is almost unbearable, so having someone to chat, makes the 6 hour busride more bearable. As long as the bus is moving at least there is some air flow but each time we stop it seems like we have arrived in Hell. It becomes completely clear why people in the Middle East, where the monotheisic religion emerged, would percieve Hell as a hot place as opposed to cold a place. As we arrive in Fez my water bottle has shrank from the heat, the label is flattering around it, just like the clothes of these women in the before/ after weight loss pictures.

As we reach Fez, the impressive outer city walls of the Medina bear the promise of secret alleys, ancient merchants and 1001 night fairy tales come true. I had watched so many documentaries about Fez, read so many articles that all destinations before it seemed just stops along the way to the place meant to feed my curiosity at last. Fist it was time to meet up with Btissam, the sister of my couchsurfing host Yassine who had agreed to welcome me, as Yassine was still traveling with his friends and would arrive in the evening only. The concept of couchsurfing is to open one owns home to travellers and let them sleep on your couch, sharing cultures and conversations. I find it one of the most beautiful communities existing on a non capitalist base. I take a small taxi to the part a bit up from the Medina, as I try to find the location and get a bit lost, people approach me and yell “Nothing Here” “Medina this way”, confused about the invasion of a backpacker in their local neighbourhood. Maria, the mom of the family picks me up from the local Mosk. She greets me with a warm smile and we try to communicate in a friendly manner of a little French and some Signs. At the home Btissam and her dad greet me in kind manner, Meria takes off her djellaba and headscarf, as we are now within women and men of the family (Muslim Women wearing the Hidjab only outside of the family home or if a male guest is visiting). Btissam and I chat about life in Fez, life as a Muslim woman, life in Switzerland etc. I feel uttely comforable by the warmth of this home and time passes quickly. Maria calls me to the kitchen to learn how to do Harcha for tea time. Harcha is, as I learn under the gracious supervision of Maria, a flatbread made from corn meal about the same quality as the Swiss use for Polenta, Oil and Water. The mixture is carefully dissolved by hands to a even pulp. Then a heavy Iron plate is heated on the gas stove and the pulp is spread around 2-3 cm thick. . As I will learn soon, Marroccan tea time is Swiss Dinner time (19:00) and Marrocan dinner time is Swiss bed time (23:00). Our system of French mixed with signs and some very few and very poor pronounced Arabic words works out. Tea is served outside the house which is beautiful decorated with traditional tiles and decoration, in the little patio where a olive tree and some hearbs grow. Some hours later Yassine arrives, he is a 23 year old student of Islamic studies and is a far more advanced warrior of couchsurfing than me, he has hosted people for years from all over the world. He is full of energy from his trip with three friends to other towns in Marocco and tells with much exitement and joy tales of his journey to the family.  We take a small evening stroll in the neighbourhood and I am very excited, as so far as a single female traveller I did not go out at night. The neighbourhood is bustling with adults and children, enjoying the slight relief from the 41° in the afternoon. Vendors sell pop corn, a truck filled with melon arrives from one of the surrounding mountain villages. Advertising his goods in the, for me so foreign, melodic Arabic.

Setting Foot on a new Continent

In the train to Algarcias a young guy is sitting next to me. Our train is delayed and I ask him if the harbor is far away form the port, if I will have enough time to catch my ferry at four. Marco tells me its pretty close but that he will have to hurry anyway, as his ferry leaves in half an hour. As we talk I learn, that Marc is working for the Spanish Civil Service and he is usually stationed in Valencia, but is now heading to Ceuta due to the recent events he has to cover for a colleague who got insured and is in the hospital. Ceuta is a 18 square kilometer Spanish enclave on the African continent, at the very outer tip, boardered by Morocco. On July 26th, 800 migrants stormed the boarder fence, armed with fire and quicklime (read more here https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/07/26/dozens-injured-hundreds-migrants-storm-spains-ceuta-border-morocco/). Recently Spain has replaced Italy as the main target for immigrants to arrive from Africa. I ask Marc if he is scared and he just shrugges his shoulders and says he is used to his job.

Algarcias is a typical harbor town with very little charm. Even though the harbor is close, I manage to walk in the wrong direction. I meet a woman on the street and ask her for directions. She works at the harbor and tells me I can follow her. As she leads the way I ask her if she ever took the ship to Africa. “NoNoNo for sure not. Are you crazy? Why would I want to go there? There are only bad people, thieves, bad people, lazy people and every year they have a child! Look at this cars here, all Africans, they all come here. Why do you go to Africa? Spain is beautiful, look at how beautiful Spain is, go to Galicia, its so beautiful, don’t go to Africa. If you don’t listen to me, and you still go, don’t trust anybody!!! Look at me, not a single person, do you hear me? Don’t trust them! Girls like you just dissapppear!!!! Ohhhh your are crazy to go, stay in Spain!” We arrive to the harbor, I tell her very kind that I think she would be pleasantly surprised if she would still go and that maybe just for one day she should take the two hour ferry ride in the morning and go back after one hour if its really that bad. This makes her laugh. I thank her for showing me the way and we part.

As I board the ferry, the ship is full of Moroccans and I get a first taste of hearing Arabic and seeing traditional clothes. I am beyond excited that the moment I dreamed of for such a long time is finally here. Already on ship the Moroccan custom have a table and as I receive the stamp, I wonder why it is put on the last page of the passport. It is only later that day, that I realize it is only logical as Arabic is written from right to left.


After two hours of gentle rocking I am checking my phone and can see that we are very close to land, but wait, somehow we are quite far from Tangier? I check the map closer and see that we are steering towards a place calledTangier Medaround 35 km from Tangier. I take a close look at my ticket and really, it saysTangier Medon it. We arrive to a big harbor, there is no town, just the harbour and I have not yet any Moroccan Dirham on me. When I find an ATM I am very relieved and I start to ask my way around for a bus. Unlike my assumption, hardly anyone speaks French and it takes a long time to find the bus stop. I will be honest with you, I started to get anxious and questioned myself for taking the trip alone. After a good 45 Minutes a minivan picks me up. We sit very crowded and Arabic music is playing on the stereo full blast. As we climb and descend hills along the coastline I spot Berber people who wear some of the coolest piece of clothing I have ever seen, a hooded fullback cloak with a pointy hood in bright colors. It feels a bit like being in a fantasy novel. In the van nobody speaks any other language but somehow its understood, that the last stop arrived and much to my disappointment it is a shopping mall, very far from the center where I booked the hostel. I try to catch various taxis but none of them want to go to the Medina. The anxiety still had me in its clutches and the sun started to go down. I saw a taxi with women inside, so I assumed it would be a good guess to try to go with them and luckily were also going to the Medina (old city center). The day ends with an exhausted me on the rooftop, enjoying a delicious combination of fresh flat bread and la vache qui rit, listening to the Muezzin calling for the nights prayer.

44° and Witch Defense Brew

After a further odyssey in Madrid the next day to get change my reserved seat to Cordoba, I arrive finally at five in the afternoon. I get out of the train and am almost knocked out by the shimmering heat, the thermostat is showing 44°. As I walk in slow motion with my backpack through town I pass a pretty park with an orange tree, the fruits are ripe, lying on the floor. What a waste! With a watery mouth I walk up to the tree and pick a particular big, ripe fruit of the floor peel it and take a huge bite. Brrrrrrrr pha phew!!!!! I spit it out, these are bitter oranges that is why nobody wants to eat them. With a red head and dripping of sweat I arrive at the hostel and feel so lucky as I spot the air condition. There is only one other girl in the dormitory and it seems she is the only one altogether in the hostel. The cheerful Senegalese receptionist explains me that everybody in the right mind is at the beach at the moment. Makes sense.

After a cold shower and some refreshing AC time I walk the beautiful street of Cordoba marveling at the beautiful small streets gazing into the careful tendered patios inside oriental doors. Cordoba was under Muslim rule from 723 until 1236 a.D. The appearance of the city is dominated by this period, giving me a taste of what is yet to come on this trip.

 

 

 

 

After a delicious dinner of different tapas, I feel like it is not time to sleep quite yet, so I sit down  at the traditional bodega next to my hostel and follow over a glass of wine my favourite passion, people watching. The owner of the bar, Archimedes,  is a man in his sixties. He offers me some jamon and starts to chat with me for a bit, I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to practice Spanish and get to know more about life in Cordoba.

After I wake up very well rested I head to the main landmark of Cordoba, the Mezquita. On the ground where the monumental building was built used to stand a basilic, the mosque was built on top of it. The work on the mosque started in 784, when Cordoba was reconcured by the christian rulers in 1236, it became a church again:

After a long day of sightseeing, I choose the bar of Archimedes for my dinner. He introduces me to his friends and I find myself in a discussion about life and life in Spain and life in genereal.

As I want to leave, Archimedes says I have to stay some more for a special drink from Alicia. Everybody agrees that I, by no chance could miss out on this, this drink, so they explain me, was used to ward off witches and other evil. With a theatrical gesture Archimedes lights a big pot of the liquor on fire and as he starts to mumble a verse, he pours the blue burning liquid from the ladle to the pot and back. The room heats even more up and everybody is following mesmerized the procedure. What a great closure to my stay in Cordoba, I am once more grateful to have met such kink people. I found a English translation of the verse online, and hope to be protected on my further trip not only from witches but also from evil dschinns.

We allways arrive where we are meant to be at that time…..

After a short night I awoke really excited and hurried to the French Train Station in Basel (the cite is boardering so close with Germany and France, that there is a French and German train station with customs). In Lyon I don’t have time to see the city and take the next train to Béziers where I plan to leave the trainstation for a bit to explore for some 20 Minutes the city. Upon arrival the display is announcing a delay of the connecting train to Barcelona of 40 Minutes. This shakes my plans up, as I will miss the connecting train to Madrid. Instead of having a look at Béziers I am standing now in line of the ticket counter, constructing the phrases in my rusty French which I will use to ask to change my reserved seat to Madrid to the train one hour later. I can still easily make it to Cordoba if this works. As I stammer the prepared sentences the lady gives me a impatient look and then tells me she can not do anything about this, but the Spanish conductor in the train would be able to change the booking. As the train finally arrives one hour later, the conductor tells me he, himself could not do anything about the ticket, I had to go to customer services after arriving in Barcelona. In Barcelona, the lady behind the counter tells me, all trains were booked apart form the one running at eight o clock. My spirits sink as I realize that I will not make it to Cordoba today. While exiting the office, my stommach is growling as loud as my mind and I decide to leave the station and go look for a restaurant and some WIFI to book a hostel in Madrid. The only restaurant I can find within a reasonable radius does not have WIFI but delicious looking tapas. The savoury piementos del padron  (grilled green pepers with oil and salt) and batatas bravas (patatoe wedged with spicy sauce and mayonnaise) calm my mood and my mind resets to positive. I was in quest for an adventure, that is why I choose this trip, adventures do not follow plans. Back at the station the WIFI is too bad to book anything, so I boards the train to Madrid with a broad grin and in my tummy the excitement of not knowing what comes next is producing small butterflies.

The train arrives at 23:15 in Madrid and I head straight to the metro with the plan to go to the center Sol district, but one stop before at Tirso de Molino, I feel like its better to get out there as places will be cheaper a bit from the center. As I get out of the Metro I ask two friendly looking girls if they could have a look on the phone where the next hostel is. The two are really nice, we talk a bit and they even accompany to the hostel. I find a very frienly and clean place. This district seems to be rather alternative, with lots of small alleys to discover. Even though the 15 hour journey had made me very tired I am way to excited to go to sleep, one night in Madrid and waste it on sleeping? I don’t think so. So I have a shower and leave for a night stroll. The beauty of Madrid strikes me, it seems like history is hiding at every corner and that a new story awaits after each small alley. I stay in the more crowded streets for safety reasons and enjoy the role of the spectator. In a little side street I spot a small Bodega, which is all wooden and looks to typical Spanish that any tourist heart could not be happier. I order a glass of Rioja and a toasted bread with goat cheese and ham for an incredible price. In this setting the combination tastes like heaven. IMG_7051.jpg

Just as I finish and am about to leave, a crying woman storms in the bar and  orders a beer. She then sits sobbing over her beer. I go up to talk to her to ask what is the matter. She sighs and tells me in bits that she was supposed to fly back to her homecountry today but RyanAir would not let her board the plain because something was wrong with her ticket, she then kicked the glassdoor of RyanAir and now she must go back home via another country becuse she does now if this will have any legal concequences. On top of that her boyfriend got in a fight with a dealer who tried to sell them Skunk Weed and she walked away in anger and now is lost, not kfnowing where her boyfriend nor her hostel is. Oh dear what a complicated life.  We then walk back to my hostel to look up the adress of hers and part with a hug.

The next day I have a lot of time to explore beautiful Madrid, as the next free seat to Cordoba is only leaving at three in the afternoon.

Mojiiiitooo füüf Frankeee

Gleich nach der Arbeit besteige ich den Zug nach Basel, erste Destination auf meinem Weg nach Marokko. Seit Wochen hatte ich diesem Abenteuer entgegengefiebert und nun ist Tag X endlich eingetroffen. Ich werde mit dem Zug bis nach Südspanien fahren und dort per Fähre nach Tangier reisen. Basel ist auch die Wahlheimat meiner langjähriger Freundin Karin und sie lässt mich bei sich “couchsurfen”. Alsbald ich in Ihrer Wohnung in Kleinbasel angekommen bin, heisst es Badezeug schnappen und dem hiesigen Volkssport fröhnen, Rheinschwimmen. Aufgrund der Hitzewelle hat der Rhein so wenig Wasser dass die Füsse ständig glitschiges Seegras streifen, trotzdem ist die Abkühlung ein Segen nach dem Tag im unklimatisierten Büro. Am Ufer spielt eine Cumbia Band und es scheint so als würde ganz Basel den Feierabend am Rheinufer verbringen. Die Stimmung ist friedlich ausgelassen, nichts deutet darauf hin dass Heute Montag ist. Während wir am Ufer sitzen und das reichhaltige Pick-Nick geniessen welches Karin organisiert hat, stossen nach und nach immer mehr Bekannte von ihr dazu, später auch Bekannte von Bekannten. Auf diese Weise erhalte ich ein kleines Fenster zum Basler Stadtleben. Stündlich erhallt der Ruf “Mojiiito füüüf Frankeee” und ein breit grinsender Mann preist fröhlich seine Mojitos an, welcher er in einer Styroporbox mit Eis vor sich her trägt. Ohne den Mojito Verkäufer wäre der Basler Sommer kein richtiger Sommer klären mich die Freunde von Karin auf. Wir verweilen noch lange nach Einbruch der Dunkelheit auf den, von der Sonne gewärmten Steinen und sinnieren über vorbeiziehende Fracht und Kreuzfahrtschiffe.

Guelagutza me out of my Mind

The Guelaguetza is a annual festival held in the city of Oaxaca and the surrounding villages. It takes place during two weeks, dated on the day of the prehispanic god of the maiz. The festival celebrates the diversety of the indigenous cultures of Oaxaca. Each region has different traditional dresses and dances which are precented on stage. The Guelaguetzas are goods, which are distributed by the performers to the crowd, at the end of a dance, such as sweets, fresh onions or tamarind sauce. The dances and differ from village to village, it is hard to find background informations on them, so pictures explain the Guelaguetza better than words, see for yourself.

The title refers to a little anectote:

Gary, our friend from the Mezcal fair, is a photographer of the traditions of Mexico (his instagram is garykarolli, check it out, the pics are amazing!). Gary kindly escorted our little group of new found friends to the various parties. As it was a lot of times us and the family of his friend, we rode in the back of the pick up truck to the villages. Not very safe but so common in Mexico, everybody does it and the police gives the example by riding in the back, standig up, with the machine gun around the head.

The drink of the region, Mezcal, was omnipresent and served out of gas tanks to the visitors for free. Saying no, was not accepted for an answer, so the smoky liquid run down our throats many times. Yet the Mezcal was not what made our heads turn the most in those days.

One night we decided to go on a mexican teacup ride, and as we got on, I was joking with my ride comany, Luke, that the price was so high, maybe the ride would last thirty minutes. We both laughed and squicked with joy, when the ratteling, old lady of a ride, started. Our handle didn’t close and a floor plate was missing half of the screws. At some point, the employee started to grab our teacup and spin it even more manually. Now that was kind of intence, but still fun! The ride went on and on and on and the lesson that experiencing more of a pleasure does not allways accumulate to extacy, slowly sunk in. Now the guy had stopped turning us manually and as I look around, to check if he went to stop the ride, I realized he left. The ride had been running for about ten minutes at this point. I started to feel sick, anxious and sweat from every pore. It felt like we were stuck in the moment, in a different time dimension. With every round it got worse. When the guy finally got back, only our signals made him  put a end to the madness. We all need a moment, before getting up. As we walked, we must have looked like a group of drunkards, not being able to walk in a straight line. The dizziness lasted for another hour, we defenetly got our moneys value from that ride! Later, as the best Tlayuda ever helped our stomacks settle down, we highly insisted on not drinking Mezcal!

 

Protesting Teachers, Mezcal and Grasshoppers

So there are places which hold objective beauty but they are still easy to pass through. And then there are the places where you plan to stay a few nights, but man they get you and you can’t seem to be able to leave. Welcome to Oaxaca.

It was mere coincidence I ended up here at this time. I had visited the Frida Kahlo museum the day before and met there three lovely women from the state Veracrutz, while I waited in the seemingly endless line. They told me about this festival going on in Oaxaca at the moment, called Guelaguetza. It sounded amazing, and would go on for another two weeks. This suited me, as my plan was to travel to Puebla and go slowly south. Yet the next day I stood at the busstation and somehow spontaniously chnaged my mind,next thing I knew, was me sitting in the bus to Oaxaca. It was luck and good timing as the buses had just started to serve this road again. For one whole month teachers protest had been blocking all roads to and from Oaxaca. Teacher of the southern states Oaxaca and Chiapas have been off school since May, protesting against gouvernemts efforts to reform the desolate public education system. Changes include evaluating teachers and creating a competetive enviroment for open positions. Most of the uninvolved people and students used to claime a nutral position on the matter, but recent efforts of the police to clear the roads violently: causing the death of nine people, let support for the teachers grow.

Maria sits beside me in the bus, she explains me that she understands the teachers but their protest are an economic desaster for her and her family. She is a weaver of traditional tapistry, like her grandmother and great-grandmother. The lack of tourists put them in struggle to make a living. Maria is tiny and incredible warm. Her first language is Zapolteca, she is a decent of one of the many pre-columbian populations of Mexico. Due to few remaining road blocks, our trip takes eleven, instead of six hours. I find myself in Oaxaca at eleven o’ clock at night, with no secure taxi in sight and am quite clueless on how to get out of that situation. Then Maria appears again, like the saint the was named after, weaving out of the car of a friend who has come to pick her up. She insists I come with them, wanting to make sure I get to my hostel safe. I am very grateful!

The Guelageutza features a couple of side events, one of them being the Mezcal festival. Mezcal is a Liquor brewed from the Agave cactus, like its more famous brother Tequilla. Wheras Teauilla is brewed in other regions, from the blue Agave only, Mezcal comes in many different types, brewed from other types of Agave. Somehow Alice and Luke from the UK and me got into the sold out festival, half accidentally walking in through an exit. This must be celebrated with free samples! Mezcal is strong stuff, it only takes a few samples to be in a very joyful mood, to say the least. We chat to a group of Mexicans which challenge us to drink Mezcal from chillie peppers, decorated at the edge with even more chillie powder. Viva Mexico, I feel like my throat and internal organs are on fire. The bottom of the chillie holds a worm, which comes from the Agave and gives certain types of Mezcal its flavour. I pass on the worm but try some of the grasshoppers. They are here, in this region eaten as a snack, friend and served with chillie, onions and garlic. They taste is not so bad, but the thought of legs being stuck between my teeth horrifies me a bit. The night blurres into the next morning. We wake up with a terrible head ache but we had made an awesome new friend. Gary will show us in the next days proudly his home and makes sure we get a authentic Guelaguetza experience. Stay posted for the next entry!

Sources: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/27/world/americas/mexico-teachers-protests-enrique-pena-nieto.html?_r=0

Journey to the Land of the Wayúu Indians Part Two

Once the comming of age girl is trained all the skills required to be a Wayúu wife, she is considered ready to me married off. Most marriages are arranged by the mother and her brother, who is considered to be the head of the family. The father plays little to no role in the life of his children. The family of the groomas to pay a dowry, which is payed in goats. Swiss people will remember the folk song telling a tale of a man in the orient, who was not able to afford enough camels for the girl he was in love with, hearing this. After a joyful wedding ceremony with traditional dances and drumming, the husband moves in to the houshold of the wifes family. The Wayúu people allow polygam! which means that the husband lives his life sometimes between the different households of his wifes families.

After having been and lulled into sleep by the sound of the waves in the comfortable hammok, I wake up to the sun burning down from the sky. Back in the jeep we pass now through many small settlements and are stopped by the ropes, handing our candy out. Some women sell shrimps and snails to the few cars which pass their terretory.

The more north we go, the fewer the settlements, the dirt road fades slowly, the car makes his way now on rocky ground, sand parts, sea shells amd salt flats testifying that this ground once belonged to the sea. Even the cactuses are suffering from the drought, displaying a poor condition with brown leaves. We stop at different points to view the stunning coast line, populated by strangely beautiul snails and maiestic pelicans.

We reach punto gallinas in the afternoon, the most northern point of the continent. There is nothing and nobody, exept the one “hotel” which hosts all the travellers making this journey in beautiful croched hammoks. The silence and peace of this place is humbeling, everyone of my group enjoys the sunset by themself completly in silence.

 

 

 

***little anecdote:

Next day on the market, back in town, I am buying one of the wide, colorful Wayúu dresses, called “Manta”. An old Wayúu woman has come to town to sell her bags to the market people.

She: Are you pregnant?

Me: No, just like the dress.

She: But you do have children right?

Me:  No

She: But you do have a husband right?

Me: No.

She: Ayayayyyy ayay!!!! Hmmm…. Would you like to marry a farmer of ours? I know a really good one?

Me: Very kind but no thank you.

She, with a diabolic smile to the market woman: Look I am marrying this one to a farmer of ours!

Me: No really thanks, couldn’t handle the polygamy, really liked the landscape though….

Journey to the Land of the Wayúu Indians: Part one

I am sitting in a 4×4 Jeep with five other tourists and our guide, Luis. We left the proper road and the laws of Colombia behind us. The most northern part of Colombia, the Guajira, is populated and self gouverned by the Wayúu Indians. Uniqly within the indigenous cultures, the Wayúu fougt against the Spanish, defending their terretory with guns and horses. They learned how to use both, stealing it from the Spanish or buying it from smugglers which frequented the region.

Having developed a growing fascination with the indigenous cultures of the continent, I can’t wait to learn more about the customs and lifes of the Wayúus. They are the, today largest group of indegenous people, in Colombia. The first encounter occures when the car ist stopped by a wire held up across the road by two children. They scream “Caramelos” through the open window of the driver, their open hands streched out. It is a custom, that non-Wayúu people have to pay kind of a road toll to cross into Wayuu lands. In the past the toll has mostly been sweets but shocking research right before the trip made me buy oatmeal.

Only after having booked the tour I learned about the recent humetary catestrophe which the region has been facing. The El Nino weather phenomen caused on of the worst draughts in history, while the state has been building a damm, holding back the water of the important river, Rancheria. The state is suppused to help in theory, but all of the funding disappears in the pockets of the local, corrupt politicians, just like drops of water in the burnt soil. Children have been dying from thirst and malnutrition during the past years, under the eyes of the officials.
Learning this, I honestly doupted my decision to travel the region, but eventually stuck to my plans, willing to wash only very little in order to save water.

Once handed the goods, the children lower the leash and let us pass by. We drive through the dry landscape, every now and then we pass settlements with simple houses that are made out fo the crooked wood branches which the resistent thorn bushes grow. Women in colorfull wide dresses, called Mantas, buid a beautiful contrast to the ever same yellowish dry ground. Every now and then goats rest in the middle of the dirt pist and Luis, our driver has to honk them away.

“Hay gasolina” is written everywhere and deserted stalls with Coke bottles containing the orange liquid are hanging from improvised stalls. Here, 70 km from the “oficially” closed Venezuelan boarder, gas smuggeling is flourishing. Colombias neigbour is on its knees, there are hardly any goods that can be bought in the shops. Last week end the boarder opened for some hours, letting desperate Venezuelans in which bought toilet paper and other goods that cant be found in their homecountry, they exchanged stacks of inflation ridden money to a few colombian pesos.

After some hours on the dirt road we reach Cabo de la Vela and part of me is really content. Having looked for the end of the world in many places of this journey I feel like I finally arrived.

Yes, there is Coca-Cola but no Oreo cookies, no shops, no cell phone stores, nothing. A couple of houses, the small huts besides the beach,which are open on three sides, where our hammocks for the nigts hang. There is a “fruteria” but when I ask for a juice the owner tells me that the next delivery of fruit arrives the day after to tomorrow. A group of Wayúu women selling their traditional craft: beautiful, colorful bags and wrist bands to the few, sacred tourists. It takes one week to crotch one and they sell them for 10 Dollars, each one an unique piece of art. This thought disturbes me deeply, it hurts to think of it! The girl with the most beautiful bags looks like she is only 13-15 years old.

Age is a different matter here in the Wayúu culture. As soon as a girl gets her first period, she is the. sent off to a hut in the desert, parted from the village. There she is tought the traditional crotching skills, cooking and all that it takes in order to be a real Wayuu wife. She is on a diet of “chicha” a fermented corn brew.

Sources:

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/jun/18/colombia-water-drought-rancheria-corruption

http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2015/04/17/indigenous-wayuu-children-dying-corruption-and-stolen-river-colombia-160016