In Close Proximity to Death

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During the 16 days I was in Colombia, I felt completely safe. It was like any other Latin American country I have been to, except maybe there was a higher police and military presence. When our group arrived in Taganga after the Ciudad Perdida trip, we got wind of a disturbing story. So there are no doubts do the veracity of the tale, I will explain how we were told and how I corroborated it.

I heard the story second hand at first. I also spoke with someone who heard the story directly from a traveler that was there and saw what happened. Still with lingering doubts, I searched the newspapers online to see if it was published. Indeed, it was. The local newspaper, Magdalena, had reported it. Here is the website: http://www.hoydiariodelmagdalena.com.co/. I did the search, and it came up but for some reason archived activities are not available. I therefore could not find the original artical from the original site. Either way, I believe the story and here it is as I was told.

On the way to start the ciudad perdida trek, one has to travel about 2.5 hours in a jeep. At one point, we got to a military checkpoint, where our bags were searched, etc. After that checkpoint, the jeep and us had to travel about an hour over an unpaved, extremely bumpy road. A day after we had traveled this road to the start of our trek, something tragic happened on that same road.

A jeep, like ours, carrying tourists back from Ciudad Perdida was stopped by two armed men with bellaclavas on. The men ordered the tourists to get out of the jeep and walk, but told the driver to stay. None of the tourists had there shoes on, so they had to walk down the road barefoot. As the tourists were walking away, gunshots were heard. The armed men fired several rounds into the driver. The driver did not survive.

The tourists walked a while down the road until they reached the military checkpoint. They told the soldiers what had happened. The soldiers retrieved the body, and that was that.

Apparently, the tour company–sierra tours–had not been paying their fee to the paramilitaries, or whoever those armed men were a part of. As a result of this, the paramilitaries wanted to teach the company a lesson. The latter paragraph is conjecture, the rest true.

This story was a bit surprising to me. Throughout the whole trek, there was a heavy military presence. We would encounter groups of soldiers every couple of hours. At ciudad perdida itself, there was a whopping 72 troops. Those soldiers were there for a reason. If the area was safe, there would be no reason for having so many troops. The jungle is a tough place.

When night falls on the jungle, you feel like you’ve been transported into a different world. Strange sounds fill up the night air. Complete darkess shrouds everything. At night, in Ciudad Perdida, I thought “if guerillas decided to attack this encampment, it sure would be a chaotic, frightening fight.” There is no way to know what lies in the deep, dark jungle night. Anything can happen out there, regardless of one side’s superior firepower. I guess that is why, despite the many Colombian army soldiers, certain armed elements remain and managed to commit an ugly, contemptible crime against a man simply driving tourists out of Ciudad Perdida.

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2 Responses to “In Close Proximity to Death”

  1. Amil Says:

    Latest theory around here seems to be that he had links to the guys that shot him and that it wasn´t to do with Sierra not paying the “entrance fee”. Whatever it was, it all seems a bit shady.

  2. B-Ryan Says:

    That would make more sense. Death seems a high price for simply not paying the “entrance” fee. I guess whoever goes on the Perdida trek in the future should check out the backgrounds of their drivers and guides.

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