The street cumbia band

The street cumbia band

“Mompós has some great musicians, are you from Mompós?”

“Look at me,” I say, lifting my facemask, “really?”

His companions laugh at the lead musician. It’s in the costeño nature to laugh and tease. 

“Sure, he may have a costeño accent, but he’s not momposino,” said another. 

It’s a break in my day. I heard the street cumbia band doing the rounds in the neighbourhood and so I decided to walk the dog, give them some money and share a few words. They’re happy with the 5000 pesos, all that I have in my pocket, that I give them. 

“Where are you from,” I ask. Two are from Barranquilla, one from San Martin de Loba and the other from Cerete. Their music is good and the rhythm of the mapale in their first reproduction was flawless and then their rendition of the more simplistic merengue, well it goes without saying. 

At the moment life feels as if suspended and repetitive and this brief conversation is something out of the norm in what is pointlessly referred to as “the new normal.” A neighbour from Barranquilla has come down as well to offer freshly squeezed juice to the musicians. 

Every weekday takes on a similar schedule of organizing my five-year-old for virtual classes and homework. I’m one music class homework away from a total meltdown, ta ta tati ta ta…and so on. 

This is therefore a break from the routine. I am curious to know how much the musicians earn. 

“On a day like today (Thursday) we could make as much as 100 thousand pesos each.” 

That’s US$28, not bad for Colombia.

“We don’t work Mondays and Tuesdays as we’ve found people to be less receptive on those days. Saturday is the big earner where we can get around 200 thousand pesos each.” 

The Barranquillera chimes in: “Do you play around the Calle 113 and 15? That’s where all the costeños are?” 

“Yes, that’s our public and on the weekend, they are in high spirits. Anything to remind them of su tierrita,” says the vocalist.

They’re happy to talk and I’m happy to listen. Another day in this week to week existence in Bogotá under government instated Mandatory Selective Isolation.


Richard McColl hosts the weekly podcast, Colombia Calling which can be streamed or downladed on all platforms. Support the podcast on Patreon or buy him a coffee!

About Richard

Anglo-Canadian resident in Colombia. Journalist, Writer, Hotelier, Expedition Guide
This entry was posted in Colombia Calling, Journalism and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.