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Author Topic: Close Call  (Read 768 times)

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Offline buencamino3

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Close Call
« on: July 08, 2017, 07:45:56 PM »

About fifteen years ago I made a trip to Naranjal  in Valle Del Cauca Department near the border with Chocó. I’ve written that trip up here in the past. After that trip it was off limits for many years because it was occupied by the FARC. That threat has ended and a few weeks ago I decided to return with the same European friend with whom I went before. The town is very remote and many of the residents are Indian. In fact my friend’s secondary motive was to be introduced to an Indian girl by a woman who lives there who had worked for him in his home village of Trujillo some years back. The principal plan however was to take the unpaved road that leads out of Naranjal that we had taken years ago. The attraction is that there are many rare orchids along that road that we both wanted to photograph. The road travels for about thirty kilometers and dead ends near the Chocó border at which point a foot/horse trail begins that heads down the western slope of the Western Cordillera into the jungle.

I drove up from Cali and picked him and his thirteen year son up at the Riofrio traffic circle. We continued north towards Roldanillo and turned off the main road left at Bolivar and headed west towards Naranjal. It was all unpaved but very scenic. We arrived in Naranjal in late afternoon. The plan was to spend the night in the hotel and head down the road towards Chocó the next day making many stops where we saw orchids and anything else of interest. We had time to kill that afternoon so went a river bank at the edge of town where his kid and a local kid went swimming. Shortly after I parked at the rivers edge two guys pulled up on motos and just stood there watching us the hour or so we were there. One was mestizo and the other Indian. My friend took a picture of his kid making sure he had them in the background but we didn’t think much of it.

That evening we sat in a panaderia having a beer when two police on a moto spotted us (two gringos…what the f…ck?!). They asked us for ID and wanted to know what we were doing there.  When we told them our plan they got very serious and had worried looks on their faces. One got on the phone. Then they told us that we absolutely must not go down that road, that the ELN arrived two weeks ago and were just fifteen minutes out of town. Furthermore that the guerrilla knew we were there (the guys by the river) and knew we planned to go down that and were in fact waiting for us. The police said if you go there is nothing we can do for you because there are twenty five of them and only eleven of us. (Those police might have lost their jobs if we were taken).

While the FARC have (mostly) made peace with the government the ELN have not and are pressuring the government to meet their demands by every means they can think including deadly ambushes on police patrols and of course kidnapping any foreigners who fall into their hands. The head of this particular group was reported to be especially vicious  and people in the village later told us the guerrilla had already killed some campesinos and would likely kill us if they got ahold of us. 

Needless to say that put the kibosh on our plans. We spent that night in the hotel. It was  just a big house with a lot of rooms but had a garage where my car could be kept safe for the night after they moved some motos and a refrigerator around. My room was small but thad a bathroom and the bed was perfectly comfortable. All for twelve thousand pesos (four US bucks).

The next morning we hung around because it was auction day when the ganaderos from the surrounding farms brought their cattle in for sale and it was kind of a rodeo. Then we had lunch and headed back. The Indian girl turned out to be too fat. Here’s a map with Cali at the bottom.


« Last Edit: July 08, 2017, 07:52:52 PM by buencamino3 »
Hermosamente feliz

Offline Ricardo1

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Re: Close Call
« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2017, 09:06:11 PM »
Great post, thanks for sharing!  A "heads-up" on what could potentially go wrong travelling to out-of-way places in Colombia.
Would be great to see some of your orchid pictures if you have some to post on here.

Offline buencamino3

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Re: Close Call
« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2017, 06:41:33 AM »
Thanks Ricardo. I have an online scrapbook of photos I've taken of various nature subjects. One section is "plants" and in that are "orchids". Just keep clicking to get there. I'm missing IDs on a lot of them though.


https://colombianature.smugmug.com
Hermosamente feliz

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Re: Close Call
« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2017, 06:41:33 AM »

Offline Ricardo1

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Re: Close Call
« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2017, 08:01:49 AM »
Buencamino, that a great 'scrapbook'.  I looked at Jaimie's photos a while back, and lots are quite impressive.  So are yours, you've obviously devoted a lot of time, probable equipment to get your great images. 


The good thing about Colombia is that there is some much to photograph, nature-wise, the only down-side I see is the insecurity that lies in pretty much all of the country.  I know when I was out-and-about with a Colombiana girlfriend, they were always concerned that my camera (a compact that I usually carried when there) might get stolen.


Thanks for sharing!


p.s. have you been to
Colombia BirdFair[/font][/font][/size]
[/font]
[/size]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3CrVodoLzRM


http://colombiabirdfair.com/concurso-fotografia-celsia/


https://www.facebook.com/colombiabirdfair/

Offline buencamino3

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Re: Close Call
« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2017, 11:40:30 AM »
I have not been to the bird fair because it is held all the way down in the south end of Cali and I am all the way in the north. I'm too lazy to make the drive. Also when they go out on field trips they get the same things I have where I live. I don't want to be cavalier but I wouldn't be so worried about insecurity and camera equipment. I've used mine all over the place from Puracé in Cauca Department to Puerto Nariño on the Amazon. The only place I didn't take any pictures was Naranjal, the place in my trip report. Number one the Indians get very angry if you photograph them (they always go around with angry looks on their faces anyway) and two, there were clearly bad guys in the village either guerrilla in civilian clothes or drug people. In fact we watched from the panaderia as one of the latter was trying to recruit two twelve-year olds right in front of us. My concern there wasn't for my camera...it was for me!
Hermosamente feliz

Offline Fosgate5

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Re: Close Call
« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2018, 12:55:46 PM »
I had my own close call a year ago but didn't fully realize it at the time. Fiance and I were staying at a resort on Panglao Island in the Philippines. I was sick our first day there and we went out that evening and setup our tours the next day. We were at the Balicasag Marine Sanctuary in the morning. When we came back from the reef for breakfast at the sanctuary two armed govt troops came by as if standing guard by our group (looking outward). My head was immediately on a swivel as I looked around and the other tourists were oblivious but I noticed the locals were not looking at us as much. We then walked to where our boat was with one troop in front and one following up our rear. During this we walked by 6 other soldiers guarding a boat that appeared abandoned on the beach. During the whole walk I position my fiance so she is towards the water and I'm on the land side figuring any threat at this point would come from the land side. We got to our boat and made the next stop at paradise island. Looked like a crowded sand bar and I could not help but being a little nervous. Still scanning the sea as we were not far from the sanctuary. We lounged on the boat instead and I didn't relay my cautions to my fiance. We left after about and hour and went back to the resort.


Our driver showed up to pick us up from the resort to take us up to the Chocolate Mountains on Bohol and a couple other sites. Security was on our driver like white on rice asking for credentials and copying them before turning us loose. I asked our driver what's going on as if a general question was being asked and he didn't que us in to anything being wrong. Anyway we took our quick tour through the Man Made Forest and saw the Tarsars, the Chocolate Mountains etc. Fairly event free. However when I landed in Denver and visited a relative on the way home I discovered this.

https://www.thenational.ae/world/asia/nine-killed-after-abu-sayyaf-militants-attack-philippine-tourist-island-bohol-1.89486


http://cnnphilippines.com/news/2017/04/11/Abu-Sayyaf-firefight-Bohol.html


That boat we passed under guard at the sanctuary belong to those Abu Sayaf terrorists we shortly discovered. I suspected something was going on but there were no warnings issued to us. It was just "Nothing to see here.". The claim by the embassy warning Americans....how? I called the embassy on arrival and gave my contact number to reach me on my mobile. Looked at the travel status site every night before going to sleep and there was absolutely no warning issued as far as I could tell. Realistically my intuition was beat down by reassurance that everything was normal. When I realized I had rented a private tour I thought of how lucky i was and how stupid I was to hire a private tour. I could have easily been getting into a vehicle with a collaborator to a kidnapper etc. I thought what was I doing thinking I would work two tours into one day by doing that. It was really stupid in my part.

Offline robert angel

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Re: Close Call
« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2018, 01:40:12 PM »
I was in Cebu City, stopped at a light in a taxi with my then GF, when a group of Chinese organized crime figures opened machine gun fire.

Turns out the govt. had cracked down on Customs Officials who were under investigation for taking bribes to allow illegal imports in and had quit doing so. They (the lower rank guys) faced jail time or pissing off the greedy Chinese.

Anyways, we watched as they opened fire, bullets everywhere. Two customs guy died, as did a 16 y/o kid, hit by one of the ricochet rounds bouncing all over the place. It was a bloody scene and the Chinese seemed emotionalless, as they slowly walked to the getaway car.

Another time, in swank Makati, Manila, I was stuck in the middle of a heavily armed coup d'etat. All transportation in that vicinity was shut down cold and I was very lucky to bribe someone who risked paying off rebels and officials (the rebels really didn't ask for anything) to get me to the airport in following days. The govt or the rebels could've taken me in as 'bargaining chip' or as aiding and abetting) and done whatever they pleased under martial law or rebel control.
Whether you think you can or think you can't--you're right!

Offline robert angel

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Re: Close Call
« Reply #7 on: May 13, 2018, 01:44:17 PM »
Nobody reads these long posts anyways. Unless it's real juicy, most Pl members have the patience and attention span of a June bug in July! :D
Whether you think you can or think you can't--you're right!

Offline Wildstubby

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Re: Close Call
« Reply #8 on: May 13, 2018, 05:13:58 PM »
Robert angel said:
Quote
Nobody reads these long posts anyways. Unless it's real juicy, most Pl members have the patience and attention span of a June bug in July!
I did and I don't even plan on  going to the PI! ;)

Offline pachris

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Re: Close Call
« Reply #9 on: May 13, 2018, 08:24:08 PM »
Fascinating stories. Good to keep in mind that situational awareness is helpful no matter where one is traveling.

Offline robert angel

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Re: Close Call
« Reply #10 on: May 14, 2018, 09:19:13 AM »
Fascinating stories. Good to keep in mind that situational awareness is helpful no matter where one is traveling.

Precautionary measures merely begin with bringing enough immodium to constipate a horse, as well as pocket sized packets of kleenex for outside the hotel, where there may be no toilet paper OR toilet seats!
Whether you think you can or think you can't--you're right!

Offline pachris

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Re: Close Call
« Reply #11 on: May 23, 2018, 09:30:49 PM »
Precautionary measures merely begin with bringing enough immodium to constipate a horse, as well as pocket sized packets of kleenex for outside the hotel, where there may be no toilet paper OR toilet seats!


Hah! We're still getting used to the bring your own toilet paper/kleenexes in Panama on road trips.

 

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