"You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you."
- John Bunyan

Next stop, Ciénaga, Colombia

The next morning, Yusef and I made another early morning of it and caught a bus towards Santa Marta. The Genesis Foundation had arranged for me to visit one of its schools in a small town close to Santa Marta, which was located relatively close to Maicao. Yusef decided to accompany me as far as the neighboring town, known for its beautiful beaches,  while I continued on to Santa Marta (which I was told wasabout 3 hours away from Maicao). We went to the main bus terminal to catch the 8am bus, when we were approached by another bus company boasting cheaper tickets. Yusef snatched up the offer, but only if we were guaranteed seats in the very front (he had already endured one very painful road trip with me, which entailed him screeching to a halt to let me willingly part with the remnants of that morning’s breakfast). As it turned out, we ‘paid’ for our frugality…less money meant more time on the road as we stopped to pick up every passenger and random vendor that wanted to hop on.

Five hours later, I finally arrived in Santa Marta. Or more accurately, the bus pulled over long enough for me to step off, leaving me in its trail of dust as it sped off to its next destination.  I realized that I was nowhere near the main bus terminal where I had planned to meet my host, María Antonieta Plata. Imagine, trying to coordinate a meeting place in the chaos of a touristy city, in another language, when you have no idea where you are! Miraculously, two hours later, María and I were jumping off yet another bus, which was followed by a much nicer ride on a bike-taxi, which dropped us off right in front the pre-school, El Poblado, in the small town of Cienaga.

I don’t know what I was expecting, exactly, but what I saw when I walked through the doorway completely blew me away…

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