Vain hope


A poster at the bus station reads:

Guerrillas of the FARC


Stop risking your life.

Start your new life now.


It’s well-meaning, but I t ask myself

do the authorities really think

that guerrillas are travelling by public transport,

and if they are, that a poster is going to make the difference?


It’s so complex, my Colombian friend sighs.

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Leaving Town


Oh no, the taxi driver said.

The roads round the bus station are all blocked

and the roads out of Medellín, in every direction, are closed.


I was accompanying my colleague to get her bus

back to Sincelejo when the taxi driver gave us the bad news.


Well, the bus company said it was ok, I said.


Oh well, the taxi driver said. Just commit yourself

to God and you’ll be fine.


We made it to the bus station no problem at all.


As we waited, buses started arriving,

turned back by demonstrators

supporting the farmers’ strike,

who had blocked the road north.


We heard shots, someone was reported to have said.


The road might be opened in an hour or two, the bus company said.


And it was. My colleague finally got away at about 10.30


Moral of the story: don’t believe everything you hear.

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Three’s a crowd


You know in English we say someone

is playing gooseberry when they are the third

person hanging out with a couple.


(In German they say being the fifth wheel on the car).


In Colombia they say you’re there as the violinist.

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Conversation in a taxi (8)


Taxi driver: Well, that’s the afternoon spoiled.

We Colombians don’t like rain.


[Boo…he’s spotted I’m foreign.]


Me: I thought that was good for you.

Everybody taking taxis instead of walking.


Taxi driver: No, it’s the weekend. Nobody’s in a hurry.

They can just wait for it to clear up. Now in the week,

when they have to get to work, then they get taxis.


No, we don’t like the rain. When it drizzles,

the women complain it spoils their perms,

when it rains heavily it gets dangerous.


And that was all he had to say about the rain.

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Bach Tropical


I was on the bus, listening to one of Bach’s Brandenburg concertos

when I realized that the salsa beat of the music on the radio

fitted perfectly with the rhythm of Bach’s music.


I think good old JS might have enjoyed the fusion!


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Peru Products


Since I got back from Peru,

I’ve had fun turning my best photos

into a range of new products for my zazzle store.


Since the last time you visited – if you did –

I’ve also added several beautiful flower cards

and some unusual gift ideas.


To my great surprise and delight,

people are starting to buy things from my store!

The way it works is that I get 10% of the price you pay,

not exactly riches but enough for an ice cream now and then.


Why not have a browse around: click on the blue links

and see what catches your eye.

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Oral transmission


I don’t think I told you about a sweet thing

I observed at Bogotá airport on my way to Peru.


A father was telling his young son the story of the Spanish Civil War.

I think it was a family story, maybe the child’s great grandfather

had escaped to South America when Franco took power.


The father was using the tone of voice reserved for myths and legends

and the child was fully engaged in the story, asking questions every so often.


At one point he said, “It’s good that Hitler died, isn’t it, daddy?”

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The Miners’ Strike


I knew that there was a miner’s strike

affecting the north of Antioquia,

the province I live in, but I haven’t

really paid attention to the issues,

or been personally affected by it,

until last week, when I commissioned someone

to send a package of Sunday School materials

to one of our clubs, only to discover that

the bus company we usually use

is not travelling there, because of road blocks

set up by the strikers.


Alternative transport is slow and expensive.


I had to send the first couple of weeks of a new series by email,

and that seems to have worked fine.

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