This morning on the way to work

I saw a man carefully investigating

the contents of a black rubbish bag

and eating with relish what he deemed edible.

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The Stuff of Nightmares


Here’s a funny advert for the metro I saw:


It shows a man sitting up in bed

with his arms stretched out

as if he were holding a steering wheel

and an agonized look on his face.


His wife is saying:

Start taking the metro instead of driving

and you’ll stop having nightmares.


I know if I drove in Medellín

I’d be waking up in a cold sweat every night!

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Taxi ride to Church 4


So last Sunday this is what I saw on my taxi ride to church:


A block away, I saw a crowd of people

around someone lying on the ground.


The glimpse I saw as we passed was of a man on the ground,

handcuffed and with blood on his face.


A block later, as I drew up at the church,

I saw an old woman, slumped on the pavement,

her leg at an odd angle, with a curious crowd around her too.


The worship music booming out of the church rang a little hollow.

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Cultural Assimilation


An arepa is a bread-like pancake made from ground corn flour.


Mickey Mouse – well, you all know who Mickey Mouse is.


Spotted this week in my nearest supermarket: Mickey arepas:

that is, arepas made in the distinctive shape of Mickey Mouse.


Is this evil cultural imperialism or a cute local adaptation?

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Presidential Tweet


Both the current and the ex-president of Colombia are avid tweeters

(that is, they use the micro-blogging site Twitter to communicate with the world).


I follow the current president, Juan Manuel Santos (@juanmansantos),

and last week he said in a tweet that he was finishing his speech for the United Nations

and he wanted to include ideas from us, his followers on Twitter.


Imagine if you had a cool thing to say to the world

and your president was willing to make himself available to you like this?


It’s pure politics, but I like it.

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In a café, one older woman to another:

You’ll need to take lots of warm clothes; Switzerland is colder than France.


In a café, a father trying to regain the custody of his child to two legal advisers:

I don’t think one traumatic event damages a child, does it?


On the metro, a young man to his friends:

And then he kills these women and makes perfume from them.

(Don’t worry, it’s the plot of a book, Perfume, by Patrick Süskind).

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Courteous Colombianism


If you say thank you to a Colombian waiter

he might respond: para servirle.


It literally means to serve you

(as in I’m here to serve you)

and I think it sounds so CUTE.

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Colombian Exports


Not coffee or gold or drugs this time,

but disgraced public figures.


Retired police general Mauricio Santoyo

is the latest in a long line of Colombians

to face justice in the United States.


I asked a colleague what he thought about this phenomenon

and he said it was fine by him.


He felt that the Colombian justice system was so corrupt

that the best solution was to send criminals

to the US to serve their sentences there,

in prisons they couldn’t bribe their way out of.

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This is odd


The bus I get to work comes in two varieties:

one that has one door

and one that has two.


The one that has one door costs $1700

and the one that has two costs $1600.


Why should that be?

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So you want to understand the Colombian conflict?


I found this excellent summary of the Colombian conflict on a blog about Bogotá.

It takes the form review of a book called More Terrible than Death by Robin Kirk.


Two quotes from the book struck me and I’m going to reproduce them here,

in case you don’t want to read the whole article.


The first is from a Swedish diplomat:

A day in Colombia is like a year in Stockholm.


I haven’t been to Stockholm but I know what he means!


The second about a Colombian human rights lawyer:

He adored his country. He told me he could not survive outside of it…

That kind of pride may surprise those who think of Colombia

only as a place of chaos, death, and drugs.

But it is quite common among some Colombians,

convinced that they live in the greatest country in the world,

perhaps the greatest country ever.

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