Miguel remembers: A woman and a child his age fully armed amongst the masculine guerrilla. He remembers that they stole their cow and ate their food, and that the leftist rebels took away his older cousins and wondered off in the jungle to new assignments like cidnappings and killings in the name of cocain and political dissidence.
The guerrilla came to Miguel’s poor and severly secluded village when he was about 8. They said they came to protect the farmers and needed new recruits.
His cousins were never to return… In a protest of the absent salaries and holidays they were promised, the boys tried to run off about a year later. But the guerrilla’s countermove was to kill one of the familymembers in the village… And allthough the brutal killings silenced Miguel’s cousin’s complaints, it raised more hatred towards the guerrilla. And as the movement got weaker, they implemented a new law to the jungle and the lawless unprotected cocain farmers in an attempt of strengthening their standing: All brothers in a family, except from the youngest ones, must be handed to the guerrilla force.
Worried about loosing his sons, Miguel’s father came up with a plan to escape. And the poor family left everything they had, cattle and roof, to a life with much less.
But with eachother. And eventually they managed to build themselves up again step by step with the working labor of the whole family. Now they even have their very own little piece of land and a farmhouse in the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta, close to our path on the way to The Lost City. The same path that leads Miguel to the one company that arranges tours with local guides.
The now well-respected 23-year-old guide, might not be able to read and write but has still learnt some sort of Miguel-english through the tourists. And he moves in his territory as if he was one of Escobar’s tigers.
And so does his family. Cause in fact, for the first time in 7 years, he also brought his father, brother, two younger cousins and his little prince charming nephew (Evan Andres) with him on the treck. This coolest little kid and I became good buddies, and everyday he moved two steps infront of me, pointing out the mysteries of the jungle.
On the last day, Miguel even gave us the honor of bringing us home to his family’s farm, where Miguel’s mum made us tea with leaves from the garden, and served us with the one pineapple they had.
They (and most other farmers) don’t grow vegetables for export, as the vegies has to be fraught a long way with mules and cars before reaching a city, making the process allmost non-profitable. But cocain-growth and cultivation in the farmers very own cellars on the other hand, is a profitable tradition that has given farmers labor since the time of The Lost City.
And despite the Governments exhaustive efforts to track down the coca-distributors and drop devegetation chemicals (appearantly deadly for babies) on coca farms, Colombia is still the world’s biggest supplier of cocaine. Allmost everywhere we laid our eyes on the trek, there were coca-plantations. In the open. We were actually allmost taken to a “cellar”. But for security-reasons this part was skipped.
I was surprised how freely Miguel talked about this and other parts of his life. Our group was lucky to get to know this gentle jungleboy and his family. And through his story we understood a lot more of the country’s traditions and conflicts. Thanks a lot for all your sharings Miguel!