Perception

 

I spent Easter with my good friends in Cali.

 

When I told people here in Medellín

that I was going to Cali, they sucked in their cheeks

and said, Ooh, Cali is very dangerous.

 

When I got to Cali and told people there that I lived in in Medellín,

they sucked in their cheeks and said, Ooh, Medellín is very dangerous.

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Ever mindful of their citizens’ welfare

 

A couple of flyovers will built over the main road

near where I work. Someone, I assume, the local mayor’s office,

has used the space created underneath, to create open-air gyms.

Every morning and every evening I pass people

working out on the equipment.

 

Of course, I don’t need the workout

because travelling on the bus, hanging off the bars,

balancing my rucksack and avoiding knocking someone out,

is enough exercise for any one.

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Easter Saturday

 

A thousand little deaths.

And the thousand and one times when I didn’t manage to die

and I didn’t even notice I was meant to.

 

A thousand seeds sown.

Thousands of words.

How many will die on the rocks, snatched away?

How many will die in the earth and grown strong?

How much of a harvest to come?

No way to know.

 

A thousand dreams – and one sure hope:

that Sunday’s coming.

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Here’s another one

 

I’m not sure about that, says my colleague.

I think it might be like raining on wet ground.

?

Is that like reinventing the wheel?

It means overdoing something in some way

but I just can’t get the equivalent in English, somehow.

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Distrust

 

I was standing waiting for the bus the other day

when a funny little vehicle

(think of a cross between a motorbike and a Robin Reliant)

stopped outside my complex.

A young women got out, holding what looked like advertising.

Then an older man got out and took a photo of her holding up the leaflet,

in front of the complex. Then she handed in the leaflets to the guard.

This process was repeated several times as they worked their way

down the street.

 

This is my interpretation:

They were being paid to deliver the advertising,

and they had to prove they had been to every place on the street.

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I find this hard to believe

 

Colombia has fared very poorly in the latest PISA study

of educational achievement, coming last out of 44 countries

in the category of problem solving.

 

I actually find this hard to believe, as my experience

has been that Colombians are the most resourceful people

I have ever met, capable of coming up with creative, low-cost solutions

to a host of problems.

 

All I can imagine is that the problems didn’t seem relevant

to those taking the test and if the testers had come up with some contextualised examples,

(e.g. Your family has no electricity. What do you do?

Answer: Connect illegally to our neighbour’s supply),

Colombia might have done better.

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Venezuela: what would you sent?

 

Responding to a shortage of paper in neighbouring Venezuela,

a group of Colombian newspapers got together to send

truckloads of supplies for the struggling Venezuelan newspaper industry.

 

The action is taking place under the banner:

We are all Venezuela: without freedom of the press, there is no democracy.

 

Venezuelans are also reportedly short of toilet paper,

so maybe this initiative will help on that front, too.

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