âPeto, peto,â DoÃ±a Sorelly calls. She opens her milk can, steam from the corn drink escaping into this slightly cool morning. The toot of the autoferroâs horn warns of our imminent passage. We leave Barrancabermeja, entering this new day swaying, occasionally jolting down narrow-gauge tracks. Wheels upon rails sharply clack and rumble as we pass homes with still-sleeping families.
Mango trees scrape our sides. The cloud-silhouetted dawn is just beginning to lighten. In the distance, on the banks of the RÃo Magdalena, refinery stack smoke and derrick flames billow. Lightning streaks the western sky. A thin rain sheens off bronze cacao leaves. This landscape begins to define itself as waterlilied swamps and stands of bamboo. Cattle rise, the dew and drizzle glistening on their hides. Passengers come, cargo goes. Slowly, these villages and settlements we visit are awakening; stalls are mounted in the light of lamps.
Garzas rise from their trees, white blips winging across the gray sky. Thereâs a hollow clatter as we cross over bridges above small rivers flowing to that great RÃo. Workers board, workers leave; itâs just another day of labor. This land, so flat, begins to undulate. The rain ceases, though the day is yet subdued. Thin-limbed, potbellied children stand in their golden-lit doorways, lethargically watching us shudder past.
After Puerto Olaya, the RÃo Magdalena comes into view. Soldiers patrol the bridge we soon cross. The river glimmers silver and brown beneath us, its sandbars exposed. Swooshing, swaying, clattering past shack homes, we arrive to our destination, Puerto BerrÃo.
Check the Getting To and Away from Barrancabermeja section for the trainâs latest schedule, or call the offices. Tel: 602-7684.
Relative price: Budget
Travel Skills: None
In Barrancabermeja is the Museo del PetrÃ³leo. Near the city is CiÃ©naga San Silvestre.
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