Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Taganga, Santa Marta, and Beginning a Road Trip with Richard

Saturday we woke up early, 7:30am, the earliest we've woken up while on this trip to Colombia. The last two days we'd spent at Cabo San Juan and Playa Crystal. We were brown, tight skinned, but still wanted to enjoy our last day on the coasta.

Richard, our taxi driver and tour guide for the day, was early but patient as we just had to throw on our bathing suits, mine red and white polka dots a la '50's and Daniel's surfer style multicolored board shorts. We got in the cab and Richard (pronounced in Spanish Ree-charrrrd) started talking and reassured us not to worry we could take our time, spend whatever time we wanted at any of the places he was going to take us. He gave us a map, and a block down the steep rocky dirt road  we stopped outside a woman's house. A thin raisin colored woman with strong hands patted maza back and forth between her wide palms. The front door of her cement brick house was open, and her thick daughter sat in a chair just inside. On the the floor by her feet were ten brown egg shells lay empty on the dark stained side walk.

"Tres arepas de huevo," Daniel said.

I stood watching as round disks of maza surfed across the surface of the hot boiling oil. Once they puffed up she popped it open, dropped in the egg, and back into the oil it went. She handed us some that were already ready. I lifted my camera and took pictures of the disks and her pink palmed hands. I wanted to take a picture of her face, beautiful with all it's lines and ridges, road maps of all the places she'd been in her life, but I was afraid. I didn't want to offend her. I snuck one in as her daughter gave Daniel the change and we walked back toward Richard who was smoking a cigarette by his bright yellow taxi. The oil from the arepas de huevo was already seeping through the small brown paper bag as we climbed in the back seat.

As Richard drove he ate his arepa and talked. I munched the hot delicious sandwiched fried egg in silence. He offered to get us a cooler for the beer we wanted to stop and buy.

"Mi casa esta cerca," he assured.

Richard drove and talked, drove and talked to Daniel. I listened and tuned out, listened and tuned out staring out the window as Santa Marta smeared past me. It was a wet painting of browns, beiges, and greys set against a stark blue sky. The people all raisin, mahogany, and toast colored flecks inserted in empty looking buildings or in front of brightly colored fruit stands, and as we drove, I ran my fingers through it all smearing it all together into a painted memory.

As we pulled up to Richard's house he asked if it was okay if he brought someone with him. We nodded and waited outside as he rushed in the house. He came out a few minutes later with green canvas camping chairs and a bright white smile stark against his browned skin  and black Sam Elliot style mustache. He put them in the trunk walked back into his house and came back out with a once white Styrofoam cooler. He just happened to have two six packs of Aguila for us as well. His face was warm, open, and always filled with a bright half moon smile. From the open the door of his house ran a little girl, his daughter, in bright orange cargo pants and a sea blue shirt. She looked about ten with long brown hair and fair skin. She smiled and shared the same half moon as Richard. She got in the passenger seat and waved to us.

"Va ser mi copiloto," Richard said and smiled down at the matching smiling face looking up at him.

As we pulled away from his house I looked back and saw an older taxi parked in front with flat tires in sand brown dirt and a large black and brown dog who sat on the porch. We were now ready to begin our road trip with Richard and his copilot.

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