“She’s driving a silver 4Runner. Ok, we’re supposed to meet her on the side of the traffic circle.” -Blake
The real question…are we standing next to the right super massive traffic circle…? I guess we’ll find out soon enough!
We had already figured out that this trip was going to be on Colombian time. Departure to Marcela’s family finca [farm] had been pushed back a day, then delayed 2 hours, then tossed up in the air for 30 minutes while we waited to meet her on the side of a main thoroughfare next to the Poblado metro station. All good, no worries, as it goes!
It was the right super massive traffic circle.
The drive by jump in and hit the gas and shift and merge around the circle went as smoothly as it happens in the movies.
Marcela told us it was about an hour and a half to the finca…and it probably would have been…but, we’re in Colombia. Anything goes!
About 45 minutes into the ride, conversation swirling between politics, economics, entrepreneurship, and coffee, Marcela threw on the brakes. We had just passed an old, white bearded man, walking up the side of the highway with two flags sticking out of his backpack and a white t-shirt that read PAZ.
“He’s the peace man! He walks all around Colombia, on the roads, to all the places that no one goes, for peace! He is famous! I’ve wanted to meet him for years, but there’s no way to know where he is! I have to speak with him. Blake, jump out of the car and stop him! We’ll turn around.” -Marcela
Blake jumped out of the car and started running up the shoulderless highway. Marcela and I proceeded to pull a u-turn on a blind corner on a downhill section of a two lane highway.
“Clear! Ok, go!”
Hence, the middle of the highway exchange:
2 lanes. Blind curve. No shoulder. We were stopped, we didn’t have our flashers on, and that’s a pretty standard practice. Cars and trucks swerved around us, honking all the while, and Marcela and amigo de PAZ, who was standing on the middle line of the highway, continued their leisurely conversation. We decided to meet up the road.
We parked the car in a driveway next to an outdoor patio. There was a refrigerator and one table and a few chairs. The adults and children sitting in the chairs vacated the space and offered us something to drink. Marcela asked what they had and the options were beer, Pepsi, or potato chips. We sat down at the table under the tin roof and the conversation began. The side of the highway exchange:
Marcela and Hernando exchanged stories and Blake and I listened attentively. We were seated right next to the highway. Pretty much on the highway. Two feet from the edge of the tin roof…is the highway. Hernando spoke with a hushed voice and huge trucks were constantly driving by our perch. One of Marcela’s current projects is all about peace in Colombia and she and a group of peace activists drive a traditional Colombian bus, a chiva, all around to the farfetched regions of the country: PAZabordo La Chiva de la Paz.
Hernando shared about why he continues to walk for peace on the sketchy roads of Colombia and how he can do so without a cell phone and without contacts between his destinations. He never accepts rides and never uses public transportation. People he meets on the road look out for him and share food, water, and places to stay. [We didn’t know it, but as soon as we had pulled over and parked the car, Marcela had asked the three boys sitting in the chairs to ask around and find a place for Hernando to stay the night. They found him a place 20 minutes up the road.] His first long walk was in August of 2013 and he doesn’t see an end in sight. There’s still peace to spread. Work to be done.
Marcela started to convince Hernando to change his planned route to the Santa Marta mountains and instead walk to Bogota. A large Peace conference event was planned for the first weekend in February and Marcela’s goal in this conversation became: convince Hernando to be a part of the conference. From Medellin to Bogota the walk was only 8 or 9 days. He figured he’d arrive in Medellin in 2 days. Mid-conversation Marcela proceeded to call a priest that she and Hernando both knew, and they passed the phone back and forth. This girl knows how to find connections, solidify connections, and create connections.
An hour and a half into the conversation, just when we were about to leave, the rain started. And then the downpour started. And then the sideways waterfall from the sky ensued. And it didn’t stop. We couldn’t very well leave the Peace pilgrim in the pouring rain. We didn’t leave, not right at the moment anyway. We continued the conversation under the INCREDIBLY LOUD TIN ROOF and moved into the tiny room where the refrigerator stood proudly…because even though the table and chairs were covered by more tin roofing, the rain was coming in sideways from the highway.
Viva la paz!
After farewells and setting Hernando up with a place to stay that evening that was just up the road, we set off again, as it was nearly dark, descending the windy, rainy, road. In my opinion, windshield wipers have a long way to go.
We rode the afternoon high of meeting Hernando all the way to the little town where we stopped for dinner. There were two restaurants to choose from, and once we did, we were pleasantly surprised as this restaurant is famous for its smoothies!
Blake ordered Borojo, which is apparently an aphrodisiac. I ordered Algarroba, which is Carob. Blake’s tasted zingy, mine tasted chocolatey. Marcela and I chowed on delicious Pasteles de Pollo while Blake chowed on his Pastel de Pescado Seco.
“They nailed it. This is definitely a dried fish fritter.”
Halfway through the smoothies, we started talking about Carob. The first time Marcela had discovered Carob was in Portugal when she ate delicious Carob bread and someone who was gluten free in the group was absolutely thrilled. Her second encounter with Carob was when Marcela was dating a guy in Austin, TX and she was trying to surprise him for his birthday was Carob bread. However, that became a challenging mission after she went to all the hipster bakeries in town and no one sold Carob bread…or had even heard of it.
Chapter 3 of Marcela & Carob:
Marcela stood up during the middle of the meal to see if she could find the lady who made the smoothies, so that she could show us what Carob actually looks like.
Long story short, Marcela returns with a woman who is carrying a tray with 2 Carob husks on it, one cracked open so that we can feel / see / smell the inside. Marcela nearly jumped through the ceiling when she learned that the lady makes Carob flour all the time. The conversation turned into a business pitch about manufacturing Carob flour and selling it to the niche dietary market of Gluten Free bakeries. 45 minutes later, after swapping contact information and business ideas, we continued onward towards the finca.
20 minutes later, after navigating a skinny dirt road through a palm tree forest and crossing a flowing creek in the 4Runner, completely immersed in darkness and the pouring rain, we arrived at the finca. Bienvenidos to beautiful jungle paradise…6 hours later.