a saturday in sounds

Date March 2, 2009

My familia adoptiva called on Saturday morning and invited me for a day out with them.  They’re lovely and easy to be around and had a plan for us to go to an area just outside of the city that was “a little known treasure” that I needed to see.

They picked me up just after lunch in a Jeep and we drove toward the mountain.  In just under fifteen minutes the road narrowed and turned to gravel and we bumped along next to the river.  I stared amazed out the window as scenes from movies I’ve never watched passed. 

Shirtless men standing knee deep in the water shoveling sand and tossing it into growing piles on the bank.  Women sitting on boulders with children in their laps.  Houses lined up like matchboxes, clothes hanging from chicken wire outside their tiny windows.  An old man ambling up a well worn path with a stick in his hand.


At last we made it to the natural reserve my Colombian mother had told me about.  We got out of the Jeep and walked carefully along canals and waterways as the groundskeeper explained slowly to me in Spanish exactly what I was seeing.

“All the water that passes here, my love, goes to the city.  The water is pure and cool and comes from high up in the mountains.  It comes to this place to run over the rocks, to leave behind the sand, to go to the people.” 

I stood there for a while and listened to the rush of the moving water, the sound as loud as a Thursday night on the street and as reverent as a Sunday morning mass. 

Soon after, we climbed higher up the mountain our feet gently swooshing as we walked.  We stopped for a picnic lunch at a small covered table and ate chicken, potatoes, and arepas with our fingers while the children chased butterflies through the grass.  Their laughter danced on the bright, green blades. 

With full bellies, we moved along on a short hike with the promise of “a great reward” to come.  And a great reward it was.

A small house was nestled in a dip of the ridge and flowers of every color circled its foundation.  Blooms as big as dinner plates and a variety that I never could have dreamed.  We walked toward the house as though we knew it and sat on small cushioned benches on the porch. 

And then, I heard it.  The hum of tiny wings.

Hundreds upon hundreds of birds rushed toward the porch to feed on the sweet nectar of the blooms.  Hummingbirds of every color and size.  Ones with bright purple necks and deep green tummies.  Black and white ones no bigger than my thumb.  A yellow one with a long, blue tail that shone like saphires.  They darted in haphazardly, drank deeply, then zigged away again leaving a sense of magic behind them.

I don’t know how long I sat and watched them play or how many songs their wings hummed to me, but I know that I saw them in my dreams and heard them in my sleep. 

That’s what Colombia is becoming to me, I think.  A compilation of rare sounds that could easily go unnoticed, but once heard can never be forgotten. 

The rush of water.  The hum of wings.  The laughs of children.  The thump of jump ropes.  The whoosh of buses.  The quiet of morning.  The beat of drums.  The songs of my happy heart.

8 Responses to “a saturday in sounds”

  1. deanna said:

    I envisioned every little detail you wrote about…it sounded beautiful!

  2. Amy Laboe said:

    Que maravilla Emily. Me gusto mucho amiguita.

  3. sherry said:

    You made pictures in my mind with your words. Did you get photographs too?

  4. Darlene said:

    I was thinking photographs too! I love hummingbirds!. They are beautiful. I knew when you said tiny wings you were going to say hummingbirds. Would love to see some photos! Have a good day!

  5. Lou said:

    Thanks for the trip. It was beautiful! Where are the actual pictures to go with it. If you don’t have any I have what is in my mind.

  6. Robin said:

    ooooooooooooh man.

  7. J Miller said:

    Sounds lovely! … the only thing I could image better that your beautifully worded stories, would be to have seen it for myself. Of course, some photos wouldn’t be bad either.

  8. MISS MEL said:

    Hello Em! Mandi told me about your blog and I am enjoying reading it so I can keep up with how you are. You write beautifully and I can just hear your voice saying how beautiful it is there and how much you love the children. You have a special gift and I know God will bless you for using it in your teaching and writing.
    We miss you and look forward to having you home soon!

    Love ya,
    Miss Mel