I am in Santander de Quilichao just south of Cali in Southern Colombia. I think the best way to describe this town is a market town. When I arrived the streets were alive with activity. Small stalls lined the streets selling fruit, vegetables, sugar products and meat. Tarpaulins hung from building to building sheltering the produce from the heat of the sun. Ladies with traditional top hats sprayed water on their slowly wilting offerings. The streets were shared by shoppers, workers, the homeless, motorbikes and horse drawn carts. It was a very typical scene of hustle and bustle.
I have been hauled up in my windowless hotel room trying to get on top of a whole heap of work that has been building up. I am happy to say that for once I am feeling pretty much on top of things. For so long I have been letting this stuff build up and stress me out and by just applying myself for a couple of hours everything is falling back into place.
Anyway, to celebrate my return to normality I popped back to the shop for a bottle of diet coke and a chocolate mousse! The scene outside was very different. The market was over and the stalls were packing up. The first thing that hits you is the smell after a day of fresh product maturing in the heat. The sweet smell is pretty repugnant. Then there is the mess. Not just a little mess but serious litter. Street sweepers attack the cobbled stones armed with brooms making the dust rise up and a haze fill the streets. There is a brightly coloured bus parked in the middle of the street and a small crowd of people working out how to load the huge boxes of bought and unsold goods on to the roof. The impatient passengers sit gazing at the commotion outside.
Children play in the streets, ducking and weaving between stalls and rubbish heaps. Stall workers share jokes and drunkards sleep off a day of beer and spirits in the vacant doorways. The biggest surprise for me is the sheer number of vultures who are here to oversee the final stages of the clean-up. The terracotta roofs are lined with the large black birds that every so often spot an opportunity and swoop to the street. They jump from pile to pile, fighting off their rivals where necessary.
It’s the end of the day and time to rest….
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