On Monday we met up with Johanna’s cousin, Laura, who was in Cartagena for work. The three of us are touring around Cartagena, Barranquilla, Santa Marta and Parque Tayrona for a week. I will be talking about each of these places in separate blog posts in the coming weeks, but today I wanted to touch on something that effects all of Colombia.
While in Bogota, the news reports all talked about the drought in Colombia. They talked about the effects it was having on the crops, the cost of produce, and how low the Magdalena river had become. Even the taxi drivers talked about the unusually warm temperatures and how badly they needed rain. I would nod my head in concurrence, but really I had no idea. As an outsider, the temperature felt great, and in the city it is pretty hard to tell the effects of a drought. On our way from Cartagena to Barranquilla, I started to realize how desperate the situation has become.
I don’t know what I expected to see on our way to Barranquilla, but I certainly didn’t expect it to look like images from the Grapes of Wrath.
Dust swirled at every turn, smoke billowed and blew across the road from brush fires, and trees that once bore fruit stood stark white, rattling like bones in the wind. The ground had once been covered in green foliage but everything was now brown, withered and dead. The streams and river beds had receded, or gone dry. Dogs panted under any shade they could find while thin cows and horses wandered around farmlands that had turned to dust.
Colombia is suffering their worst drought in history and they only expect it to get worse because of El Niño. In many places they have set water restrictions, and the poorest are suffering the most. Someone told us in Cartagena that they had not had any rainfall since October. This is not that unusual since this is the dry season for them, but they didn’t have much rain during their wet season. The wet season is upon Cartagena again, but so far not even a drop of rain has splattered upon the cracked earth. I am not asking everyone to look around and see what we do to our Earth, instead I urge you to dance. It is time to whip, to nae nae, to salsa choque, or move your white hips like battleships. It is time to dance in the name of rain.