Bomba, land of stories

AUTHOR: Linda Esperanza Aragón

In his land the traces of the orchards, stools, horses, pigs, chickens and the wind remained. Bomba, Magdalena is not paved completely. The land that remains is an immeasurable heritage. When walking, the feet are dusty, so it is a custom to shake off at bedtime to sleep.

Man on donkey in Bomba Magdalena
Stories are carried to the tip of the tongue when you return home.

Bomba has approximately 1,500 inhabitants. Most of the men are engaged in fishing, milking, beating, cutting grass and firewood. Only a small group is sustained through moto taxi and the handling of water transport: boats and boats, the most common means of mobilization in this region. Many of the women are dedicated to their home and to washing in the swamp.

Women leaving the Ciénaga de Zapayán
The swamp of Zapayán is a scenario in which the inhabitants of Bomba converge, in addition to bathing, telling each other stories.

A few families choose to eat canteens, grocery stores, cheese shops and bakeries. The stores are a place to learn about each other’s lives. The shopkeepers know everything that happens in the village, and it is the clients who inform them. The story, gossip or rumor travels between people, and the misinformed are updated.

Likewise, the gentlemen who kill recesses and pigs go from house to house to give the news. Approaching the customer is more effective:

¡Hombe, primo! ¿Cómo va la vaina?
—Estamos vivos. Eso es lo importante.
—Oiga, mañana voy a matá un cerdo bonito. Lo alimenté con puro afrecho. Está bello.
—Déjeme una masa magra.

The greeting does not vary. In the place that mar always starts a conversation talking about the pod. It does not matter if you have spent days, weeks, months or years without seeing each other, since you are always asked about “how the sheath goes” instead of “how life goes”.

Nature of Bomba
The freshness of the countryside, the silence, the blue and the pure winds invite you to enjoy nature.

When fights occur in the streets, some peek out the windows, others sit on the curbs of the terraces and some remain standing.

In one way or another, this generates meetings without prior planning and makes it possible for what happened to go from mouth to mouth, from corner to corner, from store to store, and even from laundress to laundress; Yes, the washerwomen meet every day to wash in the swamp, and that is where they talk about everything that arises in the town. It is that scrubbing is not only synonymous with lathering and scrubbing, it is also about chatting and being up to date.

Woman washing clothes in the Ciénaga
Washing is an ancestral custom that is nourished by the stories of the washerwomen.

Women who sit on the terrace to criticize the lives of others are called “happy streets”, they are talking about what they see even what has not happened:

—Mira cómo anda fulana.
—Mira la blusa que lleva.
—Ese pantalón se lo pone a cada rato. No aguanta otra ‘postura’ de lo viejo que se ve.

In the squares, playgrounds, patios, shops, corners and streets are the meetings. Even the inhabitants themselves build, through time, their own collective spaces, which they arrive on a day-to-day basis without having to make an official invitation.

From one corner to another, anecdotes are shouted, and this act awakens interest in the walkers, giving immediate reciprocity: a trivial theme can arouse the attention of those who go by and sense the communication that flows from one parapet to another.

Inhabitants of Bomba, Magdalena
Without making an official invitation, people meet and start a conversation on the parapets, corners, terraces and patios.

A gathering can begin with just two people, and little by little the rest will arrive. In the course of the talk it is not necessary to explain what is being talked about, because with simple looks or the mere mention of a word, it is enough for them to be articulated to the topic of conversation staged. And this happens because the themes deal with the ordinary, the life of them and what is evident.

The happiest months are May (which is the celebration of the festivities in honor of Santa Rita de Casia) and December (vacation time and Christmas).

Musicians at the festivities
A good papayera is inevitable in the May festivities. Music is the scent of joy in that celebration.

Those who have gone to the metropolis, return to share these dates as a family. If there is enough staff, nobody sleeps on the street. When a house is closed, it becomes a single room.

Those who come from the city are perfectly observed by the firemen; no detail escapes, especially if it is the physical aspect, do not miss that person who says without inhibitions:

—Ve, tú sí has venío blanco y gordo. La ciudad te convino.

Of course, sometimes the criticisms are not so favorable; Fireman who respects himself says things without putting on makeup:

—Oye, te veo escuálido y quemao. Te hace falta comer buena yuca con arenca.

Fisherman of Bomba
Before going fishing, the man attends the beauty of the dawn.

Anyone who wants to fatten up with all of the law should eat the herring, a typical fish of the region desired by most of the inhabitants and which is also sold in the markets of Calamar (Bolívar), Barranquilla (Atlántico), Santa Marta (Magdalena), among others.

The best companions of this fish are the yucca, the white rice, the green cooked banana, the yuca bun and the clean bun. A cradle of the herring is the swamp of Zapayán, a charming setting: everyone who visits Bomba does not leave without having taken a dip.

Fixing the fish
Every morning the women wait for the fishermen to buy them herring and thus complete the breakfast.

Bomba is hot, and houses can not miss cartoncitos to relieve the hotbed. The firewood can not be missing either, because the best meals are made in the stove. The dishes are unparalleled: no city restaurant surpasses the delights impregnated with that sacred hum of the burner.

Magdalena Pump Houses
A handful of houses and the proximity of the swamp are the soul of the evolution of firefighters.

In the kitchen as well as in the dance, there is deliciousness. I remember the picador El Pescador, which belonged to my grandmother Andrea. The nights of the 80s and 90s were pure rumba; in those years the song Sopas de caracol, by the Honduran musical band Banda Blanca, danced to exhaustion; and African therapy El Giovanni. Children, young people and adults got together and put together their choreography and laughed at the passes they invented.

Sunset in Bomba
The sunset surprises those who submerge in the port of Bomba.

Nobody complains when a street is closed exclusively to party; It is also not surprising that there are cantinas with names like El Bombazo, La Chuela and El Leñazo, since they are part of the population jargon.

Man on horse
The countryside invites to ride in silence and to admire the beautiful landscapes.

Some boys and girls take advantage of the holidays of May and December to get married or, better, as the firemen say: “get out”. The girls go to the dance together, and all those who see them go by, they tell them. When they return, they are counted again. And this is the usual dialogue that arises when the group that went to dance does not come back completely:

—Las cuentas están malas.
—Una se salió por ahí con alguno. Pudo haber sido con un forastero o con un bombero.
—Esa muchacha es simpática.
—Así es. Es simpática y popular.

Smudged window
After a torrential downpour the mud turns into a look.

There are no taboos to say what you think of the other, especially if it is to mention the defects. This is done face to face, either in the middle of a discussion or a joke:

—Te pareces a una chiva entaconá.
—Qué vas a hablá, si tienes la cara como la de un cigarrón volando.
—Y tú, cara de lámpara sin gas.

In Bomba you can enjoy life, every day you play with literary figures, there are always stories to tell and the past is left to sift to keep giving way to memories. And although it is a small population, the brotherhood is monumental, as well as its soil, sky and swamp.

Heron on canoe
The heron watches over its body of water.

Finally, I want to make a clarification: when they hear someone say: here come the firemen, do not go to believe that they are the ones who put out the candle, are the firemen who are made of stories and those who always return to their town.


Mompox, Punta Gallinas, Capurganá, Tayrona Park, Ciénaga, San Benito Abad, Usiacurí, San Onofre, Archipiélago San Bernardo and Rincón del Mar.

Linda Esperanza Aragón

Linda Esperanza Aragón

Cuento historias con la fotografía y las letras porque me permiten forjar diálogos más cercanos con distintas comunidades para narrar su cotidianidad y tejer sociedad. Viajar revitaliza mi andar y nutre lo que me falta por contar. He extraviado maletas y el miedo a lanzarme al vacío.

Soy cofundadora de la revista PalaBrotas y conductora del Proyecto MagdaleNarra, conoce más de mi proyecto en Instagram: @magdalenarra
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