The soul of the party

By: Xiomara Palacios
Translated by: Carolina Correa
Photos: Xiomara Palacios

When we go on holidays, we are always thinking in having fun and making the most out of the new experience that each place offers us. However, we think little about those people who live from our enjoyment, what is for us a recreational activity, for many people is their work and above all, it is the only way of sustenance.

Today I want to talk to you about a union that few know about; maybe we do not value their importance. However, this union is composed of those men who end up being the soul of the party. Those are the pilots and the boat auxiliaries in that many tourists know on the beaches.

We are going to be particularly in Cartagena, as I live here and I am expose to this type of activity for various reasons. The fantastic is the main touristic city in Colombia, one of the most important activities develop in the ocean and traveling and walking around the Rosario Islands, Baru, Cholon, or going to the Cartagena Bay. It is something to do if you visit the city, but no one knows the importance of this activity for the locals; some have no other way of living.

Photo: Xiomara Palacios
© all rights reserved.

There are two sides of Cartagena, the nice side is the one embodied in the memories of those who come and enjoy the space and experience of the Fantastic. Nevertheless, beyond there is a native population who strives to get ahead.

Since they are very young they are exposed to the water, they know the ocean, the breeze and the swing of each wave. They see the ocean as an empirical way of living, a lot of them do not know how to read, they have not studied nor had the possibility to do it.

Previously they only knew how to drive boats and knew which zones they could go on those boats. Anyone could assume the control of the boat; the only thing that was important is that they were good at driving the boat. (Meaning that they knew the way they had to catch the wave so the launch would not tip over) the person should not only know the waves, the breeze indicates how is ocean going to be, it is an art, they carry it in their blood and they know it.

The ocean is still the same for them, but times change and this is transforming their lives. Now the Dimar requires a special license to drive the boats, this has made that a lot of them have to go to a training course that train them to deal with all sorts of maritime situations.

In the towns, the government offers this license at a low cost or many times, they are free going through the SENA.

Photo: Xiomara Palacios
© all rights reserved.
These requirements have generated a filter that guarantees more security for the tourist, not all of the people pass the course and they should learn to read and write as a requirement to be able to take the training. Even though the authorities recognise the ability of the natives, every day they have to take care of more tourist.

Now they not only have this license, but they are also enrolled in tourism companies that train them in client service and teaches them the importance of optimal service. Now their personal presentation went from being an islander to become a formal worker and assume responsibility to drive a boat in pro of taking care of the lives of tourists.

However, they are as sensitive as the water between the hands; they are quality and loving people who love their city and every grain of sand they tread. They are affectionate by nature and cheerful, the sun caresses them and warms their souls, they live in the sea, and they know each one of its bass and its high, those places magical and hidden for them.

Nevertheless, although step-by-step is generating awareness in the local about the work of piloting a boat and the vision of many of the companies has improved. Although the quality of life of the boatmen is not the best.

A pilot earns 100,000 pesos for each exit, many times that boat leaves every day, but statistics show that in low seasons only comes out once a week. He lives only on this income; he has a house, children who depend on this function. It's an informal job but it's the most important job. They live on the day-to-day basis and depend on tips.

Photo: Xiomara Palacios/br>© all rights reserved.

They are the treasure; they fill the wheels of the Boat but really the tastes of each passenger. The floats, snorkels and even the key points to mask the beam under the sleeve, they open their arms to load what they touch or to touch them.

They have nothing and have the solution for everything, they are the best tour guides in the water and know the best places to have lunch or simply to get out to take a good photo, they are happy with the joy of others. There lays the satisfaction of their work, in the exhausted but happy faces who return to the city after living the best of experiences, that is why and a thousand reasons deserve more than a tip, they are the soul of the party and the recognition of all.



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