Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Prelude: Caquetá, Colombia
I almost never think of death while I travel but recently the governor of the Colombian department of Caquetá was captured from his home in Florencia and assassinated by what was believed to be the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia or simply Las FARC. Las FARC is to this date still the largest leftist guerrilla army in the Western Hemisphere with an estimated 9,000 soldiers.
Click here for a well written summery of what has happened
Now, I feel for the governor's friends, family and admires but this also puts a huge dent in my plans. You see, I was supposed to be in Caquetá beginning in Florencia for Christmas. I understand that plans change so I have decided to spend Christmas with a girl I'm dating in her home town of Puerto Berrío along the Río Magdalena. It should be a good time with lots of freshly caught fish, music, dancing, humidity, swimming and kissing before I meet my travel partner Diego in Ibagué.
In regards to Caquetá, my theory is that now is the time to be there while security is at its peak. Just like a calm after a storm, after a large well planned attack occurs anywhere in the world it is usually peaceful afterward.
I am going to consult with Diego as well as my contacts in Caquetá before we go to see things from their perspectives. That's how Colombia works, to get way of the beaten path the local population should be consulted first.
For months now I have tirelessly researched, made contacts and planned to go to Caquetá; from my research and advice I have received it is an amazing and very off the beaten path destination for both Colombians and foreigners with a hint of danger. Much of Caquetá was once part of a DMZ created as a safe-haven for Las FARC in order to commence peace talks with the Colombian government. Caquetá has an incredibly strong guerrilla, paramilitary and military presence. Adventure, remoteness, a distinct culture, history, beauty, and a hint of danger is what I am looking for right now and Caquetá provides all of that. It's not a matter if I go but when. If we allow these players of war & public disorder to create an atmosphere of fear, they have already won.
As soon as I'm on my way to Caquetá, you'll be the first to know. Take care everyone and enjoy your vacation time (if you have any).