When your booking agent has a lack of brain cells and organizational skills, it makes for an interesting and challenging two weeks travelling throughout Colombia.
When I first started discussing travel plans with our booking agent, Andres Jaras, regarding travel to film some shows in Colombia, he seemed a little off, but I chalked it up to him being busy and we forged ahead. Man was I wrong.
The first evening in Bogota we arrived fairly late, around 2 a.m., and with an expected early departure the next morning we felt we should get some sleep. Andres had arranged for us to stay on the floor of his mom’s 850 square-foot apartment. OK, no big deal, we will just work with it and roll out in the morning.
The next day we were on the road to La Dorada, a five-hour journey by taxi van weaving our way through the mountains of Colombia, excited to see the next leg of our adventure. Andres, being our guide, booking agent and interpreter on this adventure, would translate some stories from our driver regarding anything and everything. Then, we would ask the question “Andres would you ask him blah blah blah?” OK.
He would rattle off Spanish for a minute or two back and forth with the driver, then it would go quiet. “Andres, what did he say”? Looking at us as with a blank stare, as if he had already forgotten completely, would say “oh yeah” blah blah blah back to Spanish with the driver. Wow really? This happened over and over again.
Rio Miel was our first port of call for filming and with this area being recently “off limits” to travelers, it was sure to be an amazing place. The waterfalls, jungle wildlife and beautiful scenery made this place truly one of the most amazing places we have ever filmed, except for one key ingredient, fish.
We fished hard all day with only one fish to the boat as the guides relayed to us that the river was high and the fish are off. Well, that is what happens when you are fishing, there is always tomorrow right?
Wrong. Pain boy breaks the news to us that we needed to pack our stuff and head to the next location about four hours away. It is pitch dark and I am asking the obvious questions:
Me: “Why are we leaving?”
Andres: “Because I told these people we would come by.“
Me: “How do you expect us to film a fishing show in one day?”
Andres: Blank stare no answer
Me: “Does this new place have fishing?”
Me: “What the hell are we doing leaving here to go film a place with no fish?”
Andres: Blank stare
Here we go, six grown men load up in one river boat with all of our gear getting ready to head down the a Colombian river in the middle of the night to a town to meet up with someone else. I asked the kid running the boat “Can we just take two boats so this one isn’t so overloaded?”
Nope, “Don’t worry he does this all the time” Andres replies as we shove off. The kid running the boat had a nice 1985 metal flashlight that he flashes three times to let people know “here we come down this big river overloaded with gear and people.”
After the first half hour or so I was starting to settle in to the fact that we were probably going to be OK, providing nothing crazy happens and the water coming over my hand, positioned on the edge of the boat was probably not a big deal either.
All of a sudden we come around a corner and we can see lights, San Miguel, our next loading point. As we pulled the boat up to the bank the distinct sound of loud Latino music was blasting through the night and as our gringo group walked up and over the bank every single Colombian stopped what they were doing and stared at us like, “Really, did that just happen?”
Yes it did and we were only part way there thanks to pain boy. As we unloaded our gear from the boat to the top of the hill a bright red “Indiana Jones bush wagon” appeared out of the street lights and ready to take us to wherever the hell we were going next.
With the crew and gear loaded we headed out across the moon lit jungle witnessing the most amazing display of fireflies I have ever seen. It was a beautiful evening and all in all, a pretty fun adventure. With that thought I just about through my head the driver made a hard turn to the right to avoid one hole and wrecks us into the barb wire fence in a different mud hole on the other side. Trying to figure out a plan I ask Andres “How much farther from here?”
Andres: Blank stare no answer.
As the driver wrestles with it for a while and locks the hubs in to try 4-wheel drive, we work our way out leaving the fence to never be the same again but everything else seemed alright and we are back on the trail. We finally arrive in another town around 11 p.m. where we find some food, unload everything from the Indiana Jones rig, and re-load into another van.
But now we have food available so pain boy was pretty successful at ordering up some chow — he likes food. From here, the other van takes us about 15 minutes down the road to the entrance to the eco lodge to our final destination. Which raises the obvious question to Andres “Why couldn’t the first bush wagon take us another 15 minutes?”
Andres: Blank stare followed by some meaningless mumbling.
Hey, it’s better than just a blank stare.
As we are walking to our rooms — it is around midnight at this point — and I ask about the schedule for the next day,
“What time are we leaving tomorrow?” I said.
“Noon,” Andres replies.
So, we schedule our work day for that departure time. Around noon we end up on a phone call with the owner of the eco lodge with the exciting news that once again Andres has either made up the answer for what time we are leaving or is strictly working on “Colombian Time” because the van is coming to get us at 2 p.m., with only an eight hour drive back to Bogota.
This is what happens when your booking agent has no organizational skills and is partially brain dead! And we were only three days into the trip with 11 to go. Stay tuned for the rest of the crazy adventure.
Denis Isbister is a Fallon resident and the cohost of “Wild Fish Wild Places.”