After having created everything else, God decided to finally create man and woman to let them enjoy all his previous creations. To ensure that his final and greatest creation would live in a genuine paradise, he built the garden of Eden and then he placed it, according to the book of Genesis, between two principal rivers. After the first two were kicked out from that beautiful paradise – I’m not sure if it was because of the apple issue or just because they weren’t what he had expected – it has been mankind’s obsession to find out exactly where Eden is situated. Indeed, the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation), conducted a massively expensive search which they published in the documentary “In Search of an Earthly Paradise,” (BBC 2011). Per the documentary, archeologists, scientists, and researchers, placed the Garden of Eden between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates. That was not a random location.
As it happens, all the principal cities of the world; those that have ensured the progress, development, and growth of man-kind, have been built close to important rivers. And that wasn’t done precisely to emulate the first paradise, or just because water is the main source of life, but because a river is a source of food, communications, creativity, dreams, freedom and power.
Just choose any really important city either of the ancient or the modern world, and nearby, you’ll find a river. It explains why Egyptians, Greeks, Romans as well as Paris, Shanghai, Rotterdam and even Macondo, were founded close to a river.
Barranquilla has the luck of having been placed alongside the magnificent Magdalena river. The Magdelena is a living giant more than 1500 kilometers long, serving 24% of the nation’s territory, producing 85% of its GDP, and crossing no less than 18 departments where 80% of population of this great nation lives. In tandem with the ocean, the river has always been the city’s primary development engine.. What is not acceptable or even understandable is that for quite a long time now, in fact, for more than half a century, the city has turned its back on the river and instead of becoming a transforming highway, it has almost became the city sewerage. Shame on us.
However, sanity has returned and we finally understand that the city needs a huge turnaround to face the river again and make it part of our daily lives. That is not an easy task, but it is slowly starting. Projects like La Loma, the several new port concessions, the new river highway, and also the proposed river taxis will make the most out of the brand new Magdalena Bridge and the enhanced river navigability from La Dorada to Barranquilla with an investment of some 2.5 billion pesos.
That turnaround towards the river will help Barranquilla become one of the most important cities in the world across the next decade. It is pretty smart to start thinking about river businesses. I have some ideas but I’ll save them for another article.
If our city is to become a real paradise for our next generations, we better not forget that if not for the river, there would be no paradise at all.