Ladrilleros – Ocean, River, Jungle

By | 11 April, 2011

Our travel continued with a 3-hour bus ride from Cali to Buenaventura, on the only road that connects the Pacific coast with the rest of the country. As we reached the coast, the Pacific ocean shined, dark and mysterious. We embarked on a motor boat along the coast to reach Ladrilleros. The town seemed quiet, even a little abandoned, as most stores were closed for the low season.

Our hosts own a house very close to the beach, enclosed by thick jungle. It was a pleasure to our ears to be surrounded by insects, birds and the sound of the crashing waves near by. At night, we visited our musical collaborators: Grupo Guascanato. This marimba group is formed by local youth – ages ranging from 6 to 16 – and directed by Don Flover, a teacher, poet and nature lover who instructs them and writes the compositions.

Don Flover’s songs are unique and quite wonderful; they speak about the whales’ visit to their coast, about his deep love for all kinds of bodies of water and also about the struggles of the African slaves that came in ships to America centuries ago. The kids play with an incredible energy, full of youth and also influenced by pop music heard on the radio. We recorded them on the next day and then experimented a bit, playing guided improvisation games and vocal rounds.

On our second night, a huge thunderstorm came. We had never seen or heard anything like it! The sounds of the night added to the rain hitting the trees and the palm leaves on our house’s roof was the best music ever.

The third day we took a canoe through the mangroves, rowing in silence. The first song came with the visit of some eagles right above us. The second one, came at a spring where we stopped, like a ray of light cutting through stones and forest layers.

We could have stayed in Ladrilleros for much longer, but we knew it was time to leave when Luis got stung by a scorpion.


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