Cartagena -now with added sun- but its memory will last for a long time. Before we arrived people had been telling us that we were going to working in hot, uncomfortable conditions. We didn´t quite realise how difficult the conditions were going to be.
The little building in which we built the studio had newly been refurbished with a tin roof and tiled floor. The tin roof, suffice to say, turned the room into somewhat of an oven. It was ridiculous, we couldn´t even think on the first day of working there. It probably didn´t help much that we were using unfamiliar materials and very few tools to do the job. I mean, we were using wood, but it was somewhat different to what we are used to.
When we arrived we were shown a pile of recently cut wood that we could buy from a local guy. As it wasn´t enough the next morning we put in an order with the guy and he promptly went out to the forest with his chainsaw and cut us the wood we wanted. After a day and half wait the wood was eventually delivered on the back of a donkey. Simple.
Indeed, life is fairly simple in El Salado. You get up early , go about your work and live off the land that is certainly plentiful around there. A lot of people don´t want for much: if they want fruit or veg they pick it, if they want meat they kill an animal or go out and hunt it. We were given a meal of armadillo one evening, nice but a little stringy, which was a first for me. On the subject of food, Tim managed to get a name for himself, as the man that didn´t eat yucca. Yucca is a staple here, like bread or potatoes are to us. When the guy we were staying with, Negro, was told by his wife, Isis, that Tim didn´t eat yucca he exclaimed: “Then what does he eat the? Rats?”
If people want anything else they have to make the trek into town in one of the various battered jeeps that service the community. When we needed glass we put in an order. It took two journeys to eventually get the needed window, the second I had to go and insure that it arrived up the incredibly bumpy track undamaged. Apart from that things went quite smoothly for us, we tried to work when it was a little cooler and siesta around the middle of the day. Only my computer came off badly from the ordeal: it died with an electricity surge.
We got quite used to the easy way of life and the constant noise of animals from before dawn till after dusk. We seemed to be welcomed for the most part with what seemed like half the town popping in to watch us work for a while. They appeared to like what we did and they even lent a hand and killed the deadly snake that was in the garden behind our building: one bite and its death in 2 hours; when the nearest place with anti-venom is about 2 hours away its a risk not worth taking.
All in all it was a successful first part to the mission. One of the lasting images I´ll have of the dusty track main road is Edgar whooping in to town on the back of his horse in the relative cool of late Sunday afternoon. I hope we can leave them with something too.
Back in Bogota Nick has completed his first workshops and has already started his second lot. He informs me that the first group made a pretty good track that we will soon put up on our website.