After exploring much of Cartagena, which primarily consisted of a back-alley massage -this sounds a lot less sketchy than it actually was, I swear- and reddening my gringa shoulders along las playas, I decided to venture out on the task I came here for in the first place -teaching English. The next day had a lot of back-and-forth bus hopping until finally reaching Mompox. The buses don’t go any further, as Mompox is already pushing it on the isolation level, so I needed to find a taxi to take me to another hour or so to Guamal. A man wearing a name tag printed “Benjamin” offered a ride to me, and before I had time to reply, he was taking my backpack to his… car? Nope. Benjamin was no ordinary taxi driver. He drove a car-motorcycle hybrid, or as it’s called here, a tuk-tuk.


I looked at it suspiciously; then laughed at myself for even considering caution. My recklessness had gone way beyond driving in a tuk-tuk. 


Benjamin dropped me off at an internet cafe when we arrived to Guamal so that I could message Alejandro (the man in charge of the English school) that I was here. There was no internet, however, so I aimlessly walked around the village hoping another restaurant or hostel might prove more efficient. I definitely stuck out here. I received many whistles of “gringa” while walking through town. I struck out with the Wi-Fi search and sunk down hopelessly on the side of the road, placing my face in my hands.

The shopkeeper across the street, Maria, saw me and ushered me into her little store asking what was wrong. I explained the situation to her, and she cheerfully handed me her cell phone.

I finally reached Alejandro, and he sent his wife, Leidy, to fetch me at Maria’s store.

Leidy is beautiful. She radiated the moment she set foot in the store. “SUMMER!” She gleamed, hugging me as if we’d been friends our whole lives. “Ven!” She called, grabbing my bag off my back. We walked a couple of blocks to the house, and she gestured grandly to express sheer excitement. We were about to live out the phrase “Mi casa es tu casa.”


The house was lost in time and proved so by welcoming me in with its huge wooden door. The hallway immediately inside had doors to every side, but Leidy showed me through the one adjacent from the entry door. Once again, we were outside; only this time, I had entered a jungle. There was a hallway of doors that was a continuation of the house to the right of me, which led to the washroom, kitchen, and bedrooms. My bedroom was the first of the doors. On the very left, was an enormous brick wall that stood above even some of the trees. Banana, mango, guava, and orange trees spotted this jungle, though none were ripe yet. After trudging through the wilderness that is the backyard, the trees disappeared to present a makeshift fútbol field, complete with a brick goal.


The only furniture in my room -a bed done up with sheets, and a bare mattress lying next to it made my room appear large. Upon opening the doors to this room, a creature scattered up the wall behind the bed. I quickly glanced to see a white salamander and his friend disappear outside through a hole in the corner of the ceiling.

“Geckos!” Leidy said, laughing at my not-so-subtle reaction. Alejandro was giving English lessons to a student on the patio, and a little girl of 2 was sitting on the ground next to him. She jumped up to greet her mother, her curly locks bouncing, but she shyly retreated behind Leidy’s leg when she saw the newcomer.


“Cómo te llamas?” I asked. She stuck out her tongue and giggled, already warming up to me. It wasn’t long before she was rummaging through my stuff and asking me to hold her. She even tried peeking her little head under the boards of the shower door later. “HOLA!” I heard a small voice call as I was almost half naked. I didn’t see myself enjoying much privacy these next few weeks, especially since my room is actually linked to the families.

Valerie, the little girl, is far from shy. She is a little actress. She is constantly singing and making noise, just to make noise, sometimes even harmonizing with the baby parrots that Alejandro had rescued recently.


These are just a few of the sounds I will grow accustomed to hearing. Along with the ever-present buzz of mosquitoes, I will become familiar with the claws of wild iguanas scratching the roof above me as I sleep.

What craziness this whole adventure is turning out to be! I am excited to begin teaching alongside this family.

I begin Monday. Wish me luck!

6 responses to “Guamal, Colombia”

  1. Explorar el mundo Avatar
    Explorar el mundo

    Check out ” Medellin ” if possible while your in Colombia ! That is hands down the most beautiful town in Colombia and contrary to popular belief/myth its relativeley safe despite the notoriety of the culture that used to thrive there in the 1980’s… . Also the coast/beaches in Colombia are RESPLENDENT !!!!! And that’s an understtatement honestly lol


    1. Summer Richardson Avatar
      Summer Richardson

      Awesome thanks! Not sure if I’ll have time or not, but if you have any recommendations for Central America, let me know!


      1. El Mundo Avatar
        El Mundo

        In central america definiteley visit Costa Rica ! Do not go to El Salvador/Honduras …. those are beautiful countries but honestly the conflict going on there at the moment would make places in the middle east such as Afghanistan look like disneyland lol and that is no understatement !!! Costa Rica is amazing though and extremeley safe , it’s so nice/safe there that they do not even have a military ! How crazy is that !? . When things calm down in Honduras though i would highly recommend visiting the Mayan Ruins of Copan, lots of pyramids and rainforest to explore .


  2. Rhett Avatar

    Thinking of you!


    1. Summer Richardson Avatar
      Summer Richardson

      I love this!


  3. […] don’t have a fake I.D. I legitimately just walked past the bouncer. Two weeks later I was off to Colombia to teach English in the small village of Guamal. I spent four lovely weeks here growing in my knowledge of the Spanish language thanks to Alejandro […]


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