Things that please me

Meeting someone I know on the bus home.

Being able to tell a local person about the stops on the metro.

The fact that the babies were not with their parents today

(I am hoping they are safely tucked up in bed somewhere).

Receiving four free peanuts instead of three.

Getting home in time to see Andy Murray win.

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An Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman

Or rather a Costeño (someone from the Colombian Coast), a Paisa (from the region around Medellín) and a Pastuso (from the city of Pasto in the south of Colombia).

I heard this joke on the bus on the way to work today:

A Costeño, a Paisa and a Pastuso were in a car crash on the highway that left the car wrecked. They need to walk to the next down so they decide to take parts from the car to help them on the way.

The Costeño takes the radiator so he can drink something if he gets thirsty.

The Paisa takes the car seat so he can sit down if he gets tired.

And the Pastuso takes the car door because…and then the bus took off with a great crunch of gears and I didn’t hear the punchline.

Any suggestions?

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Treasure in jars of clay – or in brown paper packages?

This week we finished another series of lessons for the children’s clubs on the Coast.

We packaged them up and took them to the bus terminal to post them (Colombia’s postal service is patchy, and the quickest way to send something is often on the regular bus services).

The woman behind the counter asked what the packages were worth so as to include some insurance in the postage.

We settled on $15,000 (about £5.20 or $8.20) which wouldn’t even have covered the cost of the photocopying. But really, we should have said they were priceless. Not because they are anything special as lessons go, but because of the content: lessons on ways to live in harmony and obey legitimate authorities, on God’s unfailing love and forgiveness.

Treasure indeed.

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Coffee Table


Not only is Colombia losing its place as the number one exporter of cocaine, it’s slipping down the list of coffee-exporting nations too, dropping to sixth in the latest figures  produced by the International Coffee Organization.

Honduras rose to third, ahead of Indonesia and India but which countries are one and two? Brazil, as you might guess is second, behind…

Vietnam. Unexpected, don’t you think?

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You may have read about the Colombian President’s decision to open negotiations with the FARC.

There have been negotiations with different armed groups at different times over the last 30 years, so no one here is holding their breath that these will bring peace.

In fact, many people are expressing a sense of betrayal with President Santos. They voted for him because they wanted a continuation of the strong-arm tactics of his predecessor, Álvaro Uribe, not a negotiated peace.

But however it is achieved, I hope I live to see the day when Colombia is truly at peace.

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Conversation in church

One thing I love about my church is that there are lots of extremely sweet, loving, elderly people.

I was talking to one of them on Sunday, a little lady who had turned 81 that week.

This is how the conversation went:

Me: So, Doña Ester, how many children do you have?

LL: 13 made it to adulthood but two have died.

Me: So did you have babies who died?

LL: I lost 5 babies.

Me (doing the math): So you were pregnant 18 times?

LL: No, 17. I had twins, too.

I could only say: Doña Ester, I admire you very much.

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Pious policeman

Wherever you are in the world, can you imagine a newspaper reporting this quote by a senior policeman?

I am afraid of all the challenges that I can’t meet. But above those fears is the confidence of a believer in God.

So said Rodolfo Palomino, director of citizen security in the National Police force.

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Random facts and figures

Every day 109 foreigners apply for an ID card in Colombia.

749600 Colombian children between the age of 5 and 14 worked last year.

There are 18000 Colombian children in armed groups.

In Latin America the richest 20% of the population earn 20 times as much as the poorest 20%.

And Perú is about to take over from Colombia as the world biggest producer of cocaine.

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The End of the Affair

Finally, the case against Sigifredo López, accused of being complicit in his own kidnapping, and in the murder of eleven of his politician colleagues, has collapsed.

Many of the witnesses against him were found to have lied, and the ex-deputy, who had been under house arrest, and electronically tagged, was freed last week.

And so ends a strange and apparently fabricated tale.

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