It is often said that San Cipriano, a village lost in the deep gorges and dense forests of the mountains of Colombia, can only be reached by one who truly seeks and intends to give pleasure to the soul.
This village, relatively close to one of the most important cities of Colombia, is itself lost; access is difficult due to the difficult terrain and lack of local infrastructure.
If you ask about roads: Well! There are very few.
If you ask about the train: There are railway lines, but the train doesn’t run on them.
In fact, for decades, trains have not passed through this place. About the only thing that travels these rusted early 20th century tracks are the witches, or las brujitas.
San Cipriano’s brujitas are the union of a rail car and a motorcycle, used by locals to go from village to village, and by tourists, who come every once in a while to test the clear, calm waters of the local river.
How to make your own brujita :
(This procedure is not complicated, but requires manual skills.)
1) Get a bike
Pawn the most precious things from your ranch, like a horse. If you don’t have a horse, take out a bank loan. With the money you get, buy a motorcycle. Lower cylinder engines will prevent speeding accidents later.
It is essential that the bike does not have very wide wheels. In fact, the thinner they are, the better they will fit the railroad tracks.
2) Stay focused
In the village, there are few roads. If you decide to use your motorcycle as a taxi, you’ll only be able to carry two people. If, however, you continue to turn the bike into a brujita, you can carry up to 12 people per ride.
3) Build the wagon or platform
Take bed tables or some wooden fruit crates and build them into a platform.
Put two vertical boards in parallel, arranged in the same width as the rails.
Three tables arranged horizontally become become the surface, attached to the two vertical axes. Put a table on top, one in the middle and other at the end. This provides stability.
Then add some ball bearings or balineras and add them to the vertical axes.
Finally, arrange wider boards horizontally to build the base of the platform. Do not make it too wide, as this could destabilize the vehicle.
4) Assemble the seats
Have no mercy for the buttocks of your passengers; it’s a short trip. Build a simple backless bench and attach it to the platform using strong bolts, which will prevent the seat from moving or coming off. A well-made brujita can carry 12 people.
If American or German tourists ask about safety, give them a piece of rope with which to tie themselves to the seat.
If you have no rope, simply invite them to pray and enjoy the breathtaking journey.
5) Secure the motorcycle
The platform base and its balineras could ride the rails alone but your motorcycle will really get you going.
Raise the front wheel of the bike to the platform and tie it to the platform with a strong rope. Weld a piece of metal between the tubes of the bike and platform, leaving only the rear wheel free. Attach one of the tubes of the bike to the platform and leave only the rear wheel off the platform and over the rail.
This will provide all the movement.
In case of another oncoming brujita : Drivers decide who has the right to the track. Whoever looses courage first will have to descend to his or her passengers and ask them to please help him to lift the vehicle off the rail to allow the other brujita pass.
7) Enjoy the speed, the company and the landscape
Better keep your mouth closed to avoid swallowing mosquitoes along the way.
Illustration by Fanqiao Wang