Peaceful elections


Yesterday’s local and regional elections passed off relatively peacefully.

Perhaps the most noteworthy result was the election

of a member of a disbanded left-wing guerrilla group

to be the mayor of Colombia’s capital, Bogotá.

A positive sign of peace and reconciliation, or an alarming lurch to the left?

I have absolutely no idea.

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On the metro


Two interesting people sat opposite me on the metro last week.

One was an immaculately dressed businessman,

reading a book called Generating Wealth.

The other was the only person I have ever seen in Colombia

wearing a hijab, a form of Islamic veil.

The seat between them stayed empty.

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Taxi semiotics


A flash of lights or a toot of the horn

can mean, Are you looking for a lift?

or, You’re pretty,

or, You ran out in front of me and gave me a fright.


The hazard lights mean

I’ve seen you, and I’m stopping.

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A tiny snatch of a tune from somewhere outside

crossed my consciousness at work.

I concentrated for a second or two.

It was….Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer.

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The rain is taking its toll again:

the Colombian Red Cross reports 95 deaths caused by the flooding since September,

over 64,000 families affected and over 50,000 houses damaged.

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What I didn’t see from the taxi


On our way back from the psychiatrist’s talk

(see the entries entitled Why I am here and The Good News)

our taxi ran into heavy traffic.

We crawled up the hill until we saw what the problem was.

The presence of the police and the people milling about

indicated that someone had died on the road.

I looked and looked but for some reason couldn’t see the body.


It was only later, and when I had had it explained to me,

that I realized that the person had not died in an accident but had been shot.

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On the bus


This happened on a very full bus last week:

A little girl got on with her mum, and a complete stranger took her on her lap.

The child was as relaxed as if she were on her own sofa.

She started asking everyone around her their names

and offering people crisps from the packet she was clutching.

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The Elections


A giant screen near the stadium counts down the days, hours and minutes

until the local elections, tomorrow.

Electioneering goes on apace.

I get another recorded phone message from a candidate.

Everything looks normal.

But between 2nd February and 20th October, 41 candidates were murdered.

In Colombia, nothing is what it seems.

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I miss the seasons and I can’t quite get out of a “seasonalist” way of thinking.

Here is is always either hot and dry or warm and wet,

although people do complain of feeling cold when the temperature dips below 20 degrees celsius.

(I tell them that would be considered a pretty warm day in Scotland).


I started thinking about Christmas and for some reason pictured myself wearing a hat and scarf.

But of course the weather will be exactly the same then as it is now.

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An observation


Medellín airport is, like most things to do with transport here, clean and efficient.

The arrival and departure boards work.

All you need to do to get to where you need to be is follow the directions.


However, on my recent trip to Cali I noticed that just about everybody coming through departures

checked their gate number with a member of staff.


My deductions?

Here, the personal relationship is everything and official information is inherently untrustworthy.

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