Snakes, Prisoners, & River Soup: a Typical Colombian Day

When I’m not teaching, I’m enjoying the natural beauty of Acacías. It really is a gorgeous town surrounded by mountains and rivers, which create some of the greatest natural wonders. I embarked on another hike to a waterfall, with my only goal being to not fall off this time (I was successful!). We took a cab a bit out of town to where the trail starts, right next to a prison. Then we began the 2 hour trek to the falls, weaving through cocoa plantations, and walking along a cliff to where a river flowed down below. I have to admit I slipped more than once, and my fellow adventurers were lucky that I demonstrated all the tricky spots.

We came upon a river that we had to cross, and unfortunately the bridge over the river was not in its best condition. I still wanted to try it, but was dissuaded by the people who didn’t want to carry my body all the way back. At the river, there was a group of prisoners from the prison at the beginning of the trail working there. They were very friendly, and one was from New York so he spoke great English. We told them where we were headed, and they gave us one of their machetes for protection. That spooked me, never did I imagine a prisoner giving me a machete for my protection. Apparently, there is a crazy guy who set up shop next to the waterfall, and was evidently more dangerous than the group of prisoners just sitting by the river wielding machetes.

We got to the waterfall, and we even spotted the crazy guy, but we gave him a wave and he seemed friendly enough. Than we got down to business! Jumping from rock to rock until we got to a point on the endless waterfall where we set our stuff and jumped in. The water was cold but after the 2 hour hike it felt so, so good. We had to scale a couple rocks to get to where we were, so the journey back down the waterfall with our bags of not-so-waterproof gear proved difficult, but we did it!

On our hike back, we came across the prisoners again to return the machete. They had been cooking up some soup with the river water and vegetables, and offered it up to us. It was surprisingly amazing, and we ended up eating an entire bowl of the stuff. Another thing they had been crafting was a homemade alcoholic beverage of sorts, which I didn’t try, and according to the faces of my fellow hikers, that was the right decision. They had fermented a fruit and added some river water, and I can assume it wasn’t the tastiest concoction. I was amazed at how friendly and chatty the prisoners were, and how unfazed the one guard watching over the 10 of them was.

We spotted a huge snake on our way back, and witnessed it jump from tree to tree, which was enough to get me running, but of course some people stayed back to get a picture. I am not a fan of snakes, especially the ones that are taller than me.

Do you see the snake?

With love,


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