Last day at the beach – Santa Marta, Colombia

Today is the last day that we´re going to be in Santa Marta. Tomorrow morning, early, we head back to Barranquila. I´m going to be coming back a little early – likely Wednesday, so I´ll use the extra days off to compress from my trip. I´m still thinking about possibly going in to work friday, but I´m not sure. For my own personal sanity, I´ll likely just stay off until I have to go back in on Monday.

I can´t explain how much I´m going to miss this place and want to be back here, but I´ll get back here as often as funds permit. Over the last couple of days, lots has happened, and I haven´t had time to document it all in my little diary, so it´ll likely sound pretty disjointed.

The merchants in this area are all centralized throughout the halls of the large condominiums on the beach. They´ve got permanent little stalls set up that they sell all their wares out of, and it´s like this wierd little maze of really keen things to buy. Two days ago, while I was walking through a part of the market that I hadn´t visited yet, I saw this booth full of beautiful necklaces, earrings and dreamcatchers.

At this booth I met friends that speak english, which surprised me. Jasmine and John are these two amazing people who makes these amazing macrame necklaces and hair weaves, as well as painting temporary tattoos with the juice of an inedible fruit called Jagua.

A little about Jagua:

— The jagua is an inedible fruit which the Waounan and Embera people have long used as a body dye. (The Embera People live in the Darien of Panama and the department of Choco in Colombia. In Panama they inhabit the same areas as the Indigenous group Waounan with whom they share many cultural similarities. ) It is used as a black dye to paint people’s skins. The pigment remains embedded in the skin until the external layer is naturally exfoliated, generally lasting between 10 to 12 days. It is indelible dark blue or black, like a two-week tattoo. The fruit is hard and needs to be grated. The pulp is then mixed with a very small amount of water and squeezed by hand or inside a piece of fabric to extract a liquid that darkens as it oxidizes. To make it stronger, the liquid is often heated in a pan over a fire to make it more viscous. Then the jagua juice is ready to be applied directly on dry skin. It dries in minutes and the indelible markings cannot be removed with any type of soap, detergent or chemicals. It remains in the skin until the upper layer of skin is naturally exfoliated by the body. —

This info yanked from: Native Planet NGO

Jasmine is from California, and decided to get out of the US and travel the world, and she´s been going through various countries in South America for about 6 years. She´s in her early twenties, and has the most amazing energy and awesome attitude in general, and it was truly joyous to be able to spend time with her and her boyfriend, John. She speaks english, but John doesn´t, so there´s been some interesting translation going on. I´ve been telling her about a lot of the changes in the states, and she´s been telling me about these amazing travels through the Amazon, Argentina, Brazil, etc – where they collect the majority of the materials that they utilize in their craft: Crocodile teeth, various vegetable seeds, monkey teeth and various bones and such. The work that they do is truly inspiring, and they fairly radiate with this really positive vibe.

I did my best to buy them out of as much of their stock as possible, both to help them out, and to avail myself of the amazing stuff that I ended up picking up. Both of them also put hair weaves in my hair with brazilian wax string, crocodile teeth, seeds and fish vertebra. They turned out amazing. I really need to learn how to do macrame now.

Tommy is a very relaxed, laid back man from Estonia who has been in South America for ten years. Both Jasmine and Tommy speak very good english, so I´ve been hanging out with them a lot and hearing about interesting local stories as well as getting a great chance to be social with people that my brain doesn´t have to work so hard to translate with. His little section of the market is full of ornately beaded rosaries, because apparently that´s the big thing down here this season.

Throughout the day as I hung out with them, I got to watch Jasmine and John paint tattoos on people with the jagua, and I decided to get my fingers painted. The tips are now black, and interestingly festive. I wish I could find a jagua artist in the US. I´d get designs done all the time.

I´ve got their contact information so that I can stay in touch with them as well as sending them blackberry jam and other things from the states that they miss. While I was walking to get some rum for the gang at some point, I ran into a guy who asked me, in spanish, where I was from. I told him that I was from the US, and he gave me the little woven bracelet that he was wearing, telling me that he wanted me to take it with me to the US. I smiled and kissed his cheek, thanking him and the women he was with, and they smiled and headed off to the playa.

Last night, on the playa, I sat with Madrina and Padrino and with friends of theirs that had driven in from Barranquila while this very interesting older gentleman with the wierdest musical ´one man band´ contraption that I´ve ever seen came up with these hysterical songs on the fly for every person that he spotted walking by. At some point, a really trashed guy stumbled over to us and started blithering about something that I couldn´t understand, and at that point we decided it was time to call it a night. I think this was about 12:30.

Yesterday afternoon, we went to Playa Blanca (the white beach), and while the water was nice and clear, the dropoff was steep and the little rocks on the beach were frelling murderous on my feet. I covered myself with my little white sheer hoodie in the hopes that I wouldn´t burn as badly as I did that first day out, and it worked well. Madrina said that I looked like a momia (mime) though. Momia del Mar. That´s me. We had the amazing lizard fish again, which was delicious, but I didn´t realize that they were going to cut up the ENTIRE fish and serve it to me. The fish is ENORMOUS. The rest of it is currently in the fridge, waiting for me to chow down on it.

Later today, I´m going to head out to the ocean for the last time (sniff) and say my goodbyes to del Mar. It´s been a wild, wonderful trip, and I definitely want to come back out here in another year or two.

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