This last week Cartagena was buzzing with Halloween and the Day of the Angles (Spanish: Día de los Angelitos, i.e. something like the Colombian day of the dead) celebrations… and we have been busy with the completion of a few outstanding errand runs, supporting various other projects and had a Skype meeting between Cartagena and Manchester.
Saturday 29th October
The week started with Olivia and Jana supporting the event ‘Red de Conocimiento: Comunidad, Clima y Ecosistemas’ organised by several organisations operating in Cartagena such as Fundación Ecoprogreso and Fundación Social. Jana and Olivia were representing the organisation FUPAC. Olivia was documenting the workshops and the event on picture and on film (she kindly provided the photos for this blog entry) and Jana was engaged in setting up the presentation material for FUPAC as well as answering questions, for instance on mangroves.
The event was the last in a series of four workshops. These workshops are designed to invite and work with local communities with the main objective to help each community to make a prototype of a project, product, audiovisual or digital, which will help to protect or conserve the local ecosystems and reduce climate change.
Tuesday 1st November
Our weekly meeting with Gabriel was modified to a virtual meeting via skype as the girls went to the island and our British project coordinators Lina and Richard could join our meeting via skype. During this meeting we could advance on our personal projects, clarify the continuity of the community projects including the timeline for the socio-economic and ecosystem surveys as well as narrow down the prospective dates for the our field trips.
It's all about the corals!
Sunday 30th of October
On Sunday, Jana and Josie spent the day with Gabriel in Barú. They went to collect some corals for the University of Cartagena project studying coral acidification, which Josie is supporting.
Monday 31st October - Saturday 5th November
Adriana, Laura, Josie, and Jana abandoned Cartagena for the Isla de Rosario to volunteer in a project aimed to facilitate coral restoration. The girls left by boat on Monday and returned to Cartagena on the following Friday. Amongst their duties on the island are hands on tasks of transplanting corals onto a man made reef structure and to enjoy some island time.
Friday 28th October - A trip to the capital and a peek into Colombian bureaucracy
Last Friday, I, Alexandra, had to travel to Bogota in order to apply for a TP3 visa (a student or internship visa). In order to get the visa the applicant has to visit the Cancillería, i.e. the governmental department in charge of Colombian visa applications by foreigners. Although I arrived well ahead of the office hours, I was meet by a line of other application seekers. However by midday, six hours and 60 Euros later, I am now in possession of a Colombian Visa valid until the end of March. To complete my application, I needed to apply for the cédula de extranjería. A cédula is the national ID. Every foreign visa holder of a visa valid for more than 3 months has 15 days once the visa is granted to apply for this national ID. Conveniently, the Migration office is conveniently located 3 minutes from our home in Pie de la Popa.
Experiencing the heart of Colombia
During my trip to Bogota, I took the opportunity to visit Tolima, a district located to the west of Bogota. In the past, visiting Tolima has been not advisable as the district struggled under guerrilla wars, however security increased tremendously in recent years. Now, Tolima offers the chance to experience the ‘real’ Colombia, the Colombia of the villages, Colombia of the beaten track and away from tourist centres. While travelling through Tolima my attention got attracted to the lushness of its nature, of winding mountain roads bordered by rich vegetation in all shades of green. Tolima is mountainous and the roads lead through various valleys and peaks, through thick forest cover only rarely broken by small towns (Figure 17). I spent a few days in Prado a quiet town close to the ‘Represa de Prado’ (engl. Dam of Prado) (Figure 18), which offers a range of natural attractions such as the laguna encantada (engl. enchanted lagoon), el cañón de los enamorados (engl. the lovers canyon), and la cascada del amor (engl. the waterfall of love). Before returning to Bogota, I got the opportunity to explore some of the freshwater environment of Tolima during a stop along a local river south of Dolores.