While planning our trip, exploring the Indigenous culture in Colombia was of interest to us. Since David’s ancestors are Indians (we don’t know which tribe) it was fascinating to learn that they were goldsmiths– we wanted to know more. I am also intensely interested in experiencing the Indigenous cultures of the world and finding out more of the spiritual teachings of theirs that resonate with Art for Prayer and Peace: A Bridge to Oneness— the art installation that I am currently hard at work creating. Luckily, a dear friend of ours who spent months travelling in Colombia recommended we research ‘Wiwa Tours’ if we want to both support the Indians and learn from them. We decided that it would be worth the far travel to take one of their tours.
So, we booked a one-and-a-half-hour flight from Bogota to a coastal city in the north of Colombia called Santa Marta. We’d then need to make our way from there to the National Park, called Tayrona. Although ‘Wiwa Tours’ offered several adventure packages (including one six-day backpacking trip to the ‘Lost City’), we opted for a 1 day trek to the Pueblito. Our time was limited and our 6 year old son Kaleb (and my Dad) were also joining in. You can view a map here— look for the ‘Ruta Tour Tayrona’ to see the hike we completed. Since language would surely be an issue, we also hired an English interperter.
We started the day at 5:30 a.m. when we were picked up from our hotel and taken to the Wiwa offices in Santa Marta. Once we finished paying and dealing with logistics, we were driven by car about 45 minutes to the trailhead inside the park. Hungry for breakfast, we were relieved that we were given a hardy and delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs with tomatoes and onions mixed in, a kind of round corn-cake toast, a shot of really strong, really sweet coffee and some hot chocolate.
Although we studied the map, we weren’t sure how long the hike would take and if our young son could manage it. It seemed as though it would be along day– twelve hours at least. Also, as we finished up breakfast, it was becomming clear that our English interpretor had not arrived to meet us. Not wanting to wait around for him, we headed out on the trail.
It was about 90 degrees, and humid, but the jungle was gorgeous– green and lush with massive breathtaking views of the hills and the ocean. Plus almost the entire hike was shady with a cool breeze. After about 45 minutes of hiking– mostly up rocky and uneven ground, Kaleb was beginning to complain, and without our interpreter– I was starting to worry that we would not be able to learn much from our guide.
Just then a young man in his mid to late twenties arrived– running up the hill after us– dripping with sweat, with his wet shirt unbuttoned. Low and behold, it was our English interpreter! He explained that he was sick and fell asleep on the bus, missed his stop and had to backtrack and run to find us on the trail. Grateful that he’d finally made it to meet us, I asked for his help.
I began asking Lorenzo– (our Indian guide) about God/Nature, worship, ritual and beliefs of some of the Wiwa and Kogi Indians that live in Tayrona– from before the Spanish Invasion. Kaleb became fascinated with our conversation, and he, my dad and David began recounting to him their trek to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Just like that the three guys were off– Kaleb ceased complaining!
Lorenzo — our Guide
This freed me up to really have the space in my heart and mind to begin a deeper conversation with Lorenzo (with the help of the interpreter.) The next several hours up to the Publito were spent with the guys mostly up ahead and me experiencing an amazing mix of strenuous exercize, extreme natural beauty and an inspiring exchange of religious traditions and ideas.
In the next BLOG post I will clearly explain what I learned from Lorenzo and what Jewish teachings I was able to share with him. It was one of the best days of my life. It reminds me again of what drives me to be an artist and brings me great peace of mind and heart.
With Much Love,