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Remember Falcao?


He is the Colombian footballer making his mark in Europe.

Having done well at Atletico Madrid,

he is now on his way to play for Monaco.


Yesterday it was reported that he will be earning the equivalent

of the legally mandated Colombian monthly salary

every nine minutes.



As someone commented wryly,

who wouldn’t want him attending their church

– Falcao is a committed Christian –

for his mammoth weekly tithe.

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3 encounters with children


Encounter 1

Place: On the bus

Little girl looks at me, then at the man (complete stranger)

sitting beside me.

Is he your husband? she asks.


Encounter 2

Place: In my apartment block

Little boy, clutching a ball,

followed by his dad, obviously just home from work.

Me: Off to play football?

Little boy: Yes. WITH MY DADDY!

Me: There’s nothing better, is there?


Encounter 3

Place: In my office

Little girl wanders in.

Me: Hello! Do I know you?

Little girl shakes her head.

Me: I am Fiona. Who are you?

Little girl: Isabella.

Not much else happened except that we established

that Isabella had a cold and that her mum was around somewhere

and that she was looking for a toilet.

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Philosophy of Education


A child is not a bottle to be filled up,

but a fire waiting to be lit.


The philosophy of education

according to a primary school

I pass on my way to work.

It’s painted on the wall,

so that’s how I know.

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Peace and Justice?


At last, some news from Cuba,

where peace talks are taking place between

the Colombian Government and the FARC rebel group.


Agreement has been reached

on the 1st of the six-point agenda: land reform.

No details have been published

and the negotiators refused to answer questions from journalists.


The president of the National Federation of Farmers

reacted cautiously,calling the agreement

a shopping list of good intentions,

that had little to do with the reality on the ground.


The peace talks resume on 11th June

and move on to the 2nd point on the agenda:

political representation, i.e. how the rebels

can enter the political process once they disarm.

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How to do irony in Colombia


Colombians love a certain kind of irony

and not the subtle variety.


So how to do irony Colombian-style?


If it’s cold, you wipe imaginary sweat off your brow

and say, Roasting, isn’t it?


If it’s hot, you wrap your arms round yourself

and say, Chilly, isn’t it?


If it’s raining…well, you get the idea.

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Revealing reaction (3)


We are watching a sweet Italian film

about a little boy who loses his sight in an accident

and is sent to a special school.


In one scene he is shown playing around on a bike

along with a sighted friend.

They run into a demonstration (this is Italy in the 1970s)

and talk to some of the students.


Oh no, says the person I am watching the film with,

they are going to steal his bicycle.

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Remember the conversation in the copy shop?

The next day, I read this in the paper.


To impress his girlfriend

a nineteen-year-old man apparently

dressed up as a soldier,

(not a policeman).


He approached the police to ask them to help him to recruit young people,

but when they checked his ID they found that he wasn’t actually a soldier!

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Mayhem on the Metro


Last night on my way home from work,

I was waiting on the platform in Medellín’s San Antonio station,

when it became obvious that something was wrong.


At peak times trains usually pass through that station every 3 or 4 minutes,

and last night 10, 15 minutes passed with no trains in either direction.

People kept arriving from the other line, which was still running,

adding to the masses on the platforms.


Then came the announcement:

We are evacuating the station.

Please leave calmly.


So we did. We filed out obediently, with no fuss or panic,

and every single one of us was handed a replacement metro ticket as we left.


Impressively slick.


I got a taxi home instead, and I told the driver what had just happened.

Someone will have thrown themselves nder a train], he said darkly,

but the local newspaper said there had been a technical problem,

caused by the huge electrical storm that hit Medellín yesterday afternoon.

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Equal opportunity graffiti


I spotted this graffiti in Medellín last week:

Death to the white or black oppressor.


I can’t quite deconstruct it.

In the Colombian context,

who is the black oppressor?

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