Colombia es la Gente

Coffee in place, good Colombian coffee, tipo exportacion, on my desk, I settle down to write a journal entry. Hopefully there’ll be no interruptions here in Mompós. And why should there be in this sleepy town that has captivated my imagination since 2007. Everything about Mompós is literary and almost as beckoning me to put pen to paper.

One can reflect on the turns that a life takes. Who would ever have thought that I would be here?

Inspired by the writings of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and the wonders of the Magdalena River I arrived in Mompós to do an article on the Semana Santa celebrations and basically ended up staying….Colombia el Riesgo es que Quieres Quedar.

What a bold slogan, and I, like my fellow bloggers, am testament to this positivism spun out of a negative international perspective. Although at this point in time I feel that Colombia es Pasion is more appropriate to my lifestyle. The Press Officer who explained to me all about the Colombia country image campaign all those years ago spoke of “the people as passionate” right to the core. And indeed in my experience this has been more than evident be it in berating the cafeteros (a nickname for the national football team), dancing the night away or arguing a tertulia in a literature festival, passionate to even the most ordinary circumstances.

Sonia and El Ingles

The trash piles up, in particular when we have people to stay…there is no refuse collection at the moment in Mompós. There is supposed to be, they don´t come. Sometimes, maybe once a week at best.
I can understand their reluctance to work during the floods, the dump was flooded, and there was nowhere to put the rubbish.

But now the floods have ceased and the dump is dry. Why aren´t they coming round? People have resorted to tossing their black bin bags full of daily detritus into the river.

But for one resourceful Señora, Sonia and her family, the lack of refuse collectors is just fine. She makes a good income coming around with her carro mula – horse drawn cart – to pick up our trash and take it to the dump. The pay varies according to the quantity.

Obviously I am appreciative of her service and always give a little more.

I like to think that she comes with a smile and a cheery remark due to the fact that here she is treated like a person rather than a refuse collector.

¨GRINGO,” she bellows through the window of our sala that looks onto the road and the Magdalena River.


Her smile reveals silver capped teeth. She sees me at my desk. I look up over my laptop at Sonia.
Obviously there´s rubbish, this is the land where the toilet paper does not go down the drain, it collects in baskets and then needs to be emptied.

Today began no differently.


Yes, there´s three bags. I hand over a little more than $2. She has come with her brother.

He says: “El no es Gringo, el Inglés es Momposino.”

I am pleased. This has taken just over three years.

Colombia es aceptacion.

(This blog first appeared as my second entry for the “Official Bloggers” of Colombia, a new and innovative initiative from the Colombian Tourism Board. You can read my first entry: City Hiking in Bogota)


About Richard

Anglo-Canadian resident in Colombia. Journalist, Writer, Hotelier, Expedition Guide
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