With three others that I met in Santa Marta we set out to the lost city and hiked for ten days. We went on our own, without a guide.
The hillsides were covered in mud. At every stream I took off my T shirt and ran it in the water to rinse off the sweat. We all looked unkempt, sweaty, legs caked in mud.
I remember seeing an Arawak Indian coming down the trail. He was dressed in white and looked like he was out for a casual stroll, and immaculate.
I fell in love with the light filtering through the huge trees. I can picture a stream broken into several streams and trees spread out around and sunlight piercing it all.
I bought a hammock for the trip. And at the end of the trip I had a hammock that I no longer needed.
I had a thing about keeping weight to a minimum, so I decided to give the hammock away to someone who had some ‘get up and go’ about him or her.
There were plenty of kids without any get up and go. You could see them any time you looked – curled up asleep on the streets with empty plastic bags clutched in their hands from where they had been sniffing glue.
So I decided to give my hammock away and I walked down the street in Santa Marta and I saw a young boy, maybe ten or eleven.
He finished shining shoes and started walking on purposefully to wherever he was going.
He was coming towards me and when he got near I mimed to him that I wanted to give him the hammock.
We exchanged looks and he held out one arm to scoop the hammock. He nodded a thank you as he kept on walking, not stopping to break his stride.
Maybe people gave him things every day. Maybe he was completely used to accepting gifts. Maybe.
If not, then he was very quick witted to size everything up in a second and accept my gift without hesitation.
And I felt like I had made good use of the opportunity to give something away.