In our 4-day visit to Guapi, we did so much that the passage of time has blurred some specifics. Instead, what remain are fleeting flashes of vivid memories that spark a smile on my face, instances that make me cherish the life I live and the profession I’ve chosen, this quest for stories that have led me to realities often hidden from casual tourists.
Numerous memories swirl around the last two days of our trip, trying to find their place. My mind has chosen to remember only a small part of them clearly. Expedition trips for the Colombian Pacific Appellation of Origin are like that, so saturated with information that it can be difficult to pin down the memorable parts. Every traveler will have their own take. For me, the miraculous encounter with the midwife, Maria Jesús Banguera, that seemed to fall from the heavens, marked our third day of journeying through Guapi.
Please bear with me as I take a roundabout route to get there, trying to weave everything together and provide context. I’ll start from when we disembarked from the naval boat ride and toss in a few other details.
The girls waiting for the Naval boat
The team accompanied by our friends from the Navy.
Having finished filming at the Torres’ house, we accepted the invitation from our naval friends to tour the Guapi River surrounding the village. This provided us with the opportunity to capture everyday life around the river through Mauricio Aristizabal’s camera, offering different perspectives of the place.
If you close your eyes and picture a coastal town, Guapi might not match your image. Still, it is a necessary stopover to reach one of the paradise destinations sold to us by vacation packages: Gorgona Island. This is why the small airport we landed at on the first day is a must-pass for travelers, who then have to travel by boat to reach the island. We didn’t go there this time, but I leave this information for any eager researcher with the desire to visit.
The river tour was lively and relaxing for the team. There was time for photos, I even took a selfie and uploaded it to my social media, much to the satisfaction of those wanting to ensure I was well (I rarely respond to messages or calls during documentary trips). After the tour, the group took a 2-hour break for lunch and personal exploration of the area. May, Jhon (sound), and I decided it would be a good idea to visit Raices de Tierra y Mar, a restaurant recognized by the UN for its traditional cuisine as a world heritage. We hoped to enjoy a meal there, talk to the owner, Teófila Betancourt, and arrange an interview as she was one of the first people May and Gustavo met on their initial trip that sparked this entire venture. Gustavo, Mauricio, and his assistant chose to lunch at the plaza to get a taste of the local fare, so for the first time during the trip, we split up for lunch.
Upon arriving at Raices de Tierra y Mar, we learned that Teófila was unfortunately sick, so our visit would only involve tasting the delicious local food, which I certainly didn’t mind. In the middle of our meal, we started discussing our next steps: how to find a midwife so we could delve deeper into our research for the documentary and enrich our transmedia project. Then, as if dropped from the sky, two people dining at the next table overheard our conversation and joined us. What a surprise! Both were knowledgeable travelers from Timbiquí, members of an Afro-Pacific organization, passing through Guapi (I can’t quite remember their final destination). One of them was an expert in funerary rites and nature in his community, and the woman accompanying him was none other than Maria Jesus. Truly, when one door closes…a huge window opens!
Maria Jesús Banguera lives in La Fragua, Cauca, and by 2023, she has been practicing traditional midwifery for 32 years. Thanks to Jhon deciding to join us, her words were captured and you can hear them in our special podcast episode.
Lunch at Raices de Tierra y Mar Restaurant.
Filming with the midwife.
The conversation with them was intriguing. As May interviewed Maria Jesus, I spoke with her travel companion (they clarified they were not a couple, just traveling companions) about frogs and death. Our chat was brief as we needed silence to record the midwife’s tales, and we were running short on time. We exchanged contact details in the hopes of reconnecting if our paths ever lead us to Timbiquí or La Fragua.
A person came to notify them it was time to leave, and we had to rendezvous with Gustavo and the rest of the team. We had an appointment to see local crafts and then visit La Normal.
The day passed wandering the streets, researching for our film while ticking off the list of images we needed for Genaro the Great Marimbero’s Inheritance.
Filming in the streets of Guapi.
Students from the Normal School on the court.
Streets of Guapi.
In the van making the tour of Guapi.
To know the details of our visit to Guapi, the emotion experienced by everyone and the stories we found during this trip from the voice of the protagonists, do not forget to visit this special chapter of the podcast La Mochila Desgualanga´
Going back to the roots!
Special Chapter: Guapi
Written by: May Mc’Causland
Narrated by: May Mc’Causland and Gustavo Angarita Jr.
Recorded and Postproduced by: Simón Jaramillo of Vinilo Estudio.
Hello humans! As promised, I have compiled some photos, videos, interactive routes and links from the visit to Guapi, Cauca. What was the reason for the return of May’s Barranquillera and Gustavo’s “cachaco” to where it all began this adventure. And why it was so exciting to return to the Normal School, to the Vereda Sansón and to cross the Guapi River. There began this infatuation with the territories, exploring the culture, art and lifetime of the people, which motivated us to embark on this beautiful journey through the Colombian Pacific.
Thank you all for listening and reading us, we are happy to hear from you and we will be attentive to your messages. See you to continue exploring La Mochila Desgualanga’.