So, there is this beach in Barranquilla…

3 08 2011

…and it may just be my favorite place in the city.

On Saturday, Monica and Alvaro had a seminar at the church so Juan drove me around Barranquilla all day.  After several “what do you want to do? I don’t know, what do you want to do?” conversations, we still had no idea what to do.  Eventually he disclosed the information I needed to make my decision: you can get to the ocean in Barranquilla.  In Colombia, you can’t drive between towns until you are 18, so we were “stuck” in Barranquilla.

In order to get to the ocean, you have to drive through this really ugly, stinky part of town.   It smells like dead fish and garbage.  After we went through that, we had to drive very slowly down this dirt road that was full of flooded ruts (it had rained pretty good the night before).  The road ran alongside the river, so I got to see the river the whole ride.  The further down this road we got, the more rundown things got…which I didn’t think was possible.  At one point, these little kids had put boxes in the road so you couldn’t pass.  They wanted money.  I feel a little bad for not giving them any.  After Juan threatened to run them over, they moved the boxes so we could pass.

Eventually we made it to the beach.  This place is a run down wasteland.  There were dead fish laying everywhere.  Juan and I actually had to determine if they were fish or parts of a mango.  They were really nasty fish.  Then there was this whole row of huts, or what used to be huts.   The frames were all that were left.  There was garbage everywhere.  The river runs into the ocean, and this beach catches most of the trash coming from the river.  Let’s just say, I’m glad I got my tetanus shot before I left.  At one point, we actually found human feces.  Not the highlight of the trip.  Finally, there was a filthy little boy putting sand into a plastic bottle, and a man swimming about 30 feet out.   Overall, this beach is not a tourist attraction, nor would it have been Juan’s first pick of beaches to show me if we could have driven outside the city.

But, despite the surface level ugliness, there was something beautiful about this place.  If you look away from all the garbage and filth, even for just a moment, you catch a glimpse of a breathtaking ocean and an amazing horizon.  But more than that, this beach made me feel something.  And I don’t know how to explain that feeling to you.  All i can say is it was a combination of hope, gratitude, love, and an overwhelming peace.  It was learning that even on the filthy shoreline of my life, God has placed a beauty in me that can’t be compromised regardless of what garbage I throw at it.

I didn’t get any photos and I really regret that I didn’t.  Juan isn’t sure that we’ll be able to go back before he goes back to the States for school next week.  This may be a place that lives only in memory.  But  I hope I can go back.

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2 responses

3 08 2011
Jaye

Love this! Thank you Jill!

16 08 2011
Billee

I remember going to the beach with Jerry, Wanda and the team. It was beautiful. Sorry it was not that way for you. I only remember the airport being very crowded and scarey.

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