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New Cruiser: Expeditions

The travels of an all aluminum Land Cruiser and its owners…

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Keep the Boys at Home

Written by Robin on Tuesday, September 9, 2008
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We are still in Colombia. Two nights ago we stayed in the tiny town of Chalan, 20 km off the beaten track (we had to 4-wheel in and the mud was goooooooey – they have mostly motorcycles and horses). On the way we passed an old Land Cruiser with a cracked drum brake, in need of a new rear bearing and other parts. We couldn’t help with the parts, but once again we became the taxi service and we gave a lift to one of the women who just wanted to get home.

Chalan has about 700 residents, 50 local military soldiers, and a handful of the special military police force. We arrived in the town and our first stop was the military base. We asked the sentry for a safe place to camp, and he sent for the Captain. The Captain arrived and very humbly gave us a house to stay in and arranged dinner for us. He then asked that we let him know before we went walking into the jungle at night!!?? So instead of dealing with the hassle of finding the Captain so that we could brave the perils of a nightime jungle, we figured we would just stay in the town (I’m kidding, we would never go walking into the jungle at night).

After nightfall there were assault rifle shots in our backyard and the sounds of a little scuttle. But we had full protection from the military; during the scuttle a soldier came to our door and made sure we were ok, and afterwards the Captain showed up to apologize for the inhospitality. Boy was it loud, deafening actually, echoing around the brick compound behind the house. It’s not the same as the little pistols we heard going off in Guatemala.

We had a delicious chicken dinner with a family down the street. It was Jonathan’s family – Jonathan is one of the Captain’s subordinates, and he was given the task of escorting us around. After dinner he took apart his gun for me, which was a real treat – I think I’ve held a gun maybe 4 times in my life, and really only seen them at peace officer’s sides. The Colombian military uses a 5.56 mm Israeli made “Galil” rifle, (similar to an M16) which to me, are impressive pieces of work despite them being killing machines. It was clear that the family totaly supported Jonathan’s position in the military and were quite proud of him. He is only 19. Basically people are fed up with war – there are posters with messages like “Say no to armed people coming to your town and taking your young men and boys”, which is exactly what the military in Chalan is there to stop.

The next morning we returned to the family’s home to take a photo and give them a print, as part of our participation in Giving Pictures.

In the countryside, where we’ve been told not to go at night, we got to see a piece of the Colombia that no one gets to witness. What a real treat it was. See the pictures of the town below.

Further Reading on South America 2008:
Comment by Doug
September 11, 2008 @ 10:14 am

Guns shots…. crazy. Nice to know that you guys were safe and sound.

What an adventure. Thanks for the updates and take good care. I’m enjoying the vicarious adventures.

Comment by adrian and judy
September 21, 2008 @ 1:05 am

greetings from Old Europe. We are currently in Paris and note you have been having a blast so far. Great website.

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