In which my little green case reports on a recent outing

After what felt like months gathering dust under her bed,

I finally got dragged out and was stuffed full (as usual)

before we set off up the hill to the airport.

Two flights, a bus ride and a trip in the back of a truck

and we arrived somewhere cold and dark.

The next day, something we thought was a mobile phone woke us up,

but it was actually a bird. I could see we were in a forest.

She seemed to have a good time; she slept a lot,

and disappeared every now and then, only to return all muddy,

as if she had been for a walk.

It was called Ecuador, the place, I think.

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And today it’s Peru’s turn


Today is Peru’s Independence Day, celebrating the declaration of Peru’s

independence from Spain on 28th July 1821.

The declaration said:

From this moment, Peru is free and independent,

by the general will of its peoples and the justice

of its cause, which God defends.

Stirring stuff.

Looking back, the movement towards independence

in Latin America seems inevitable

but it’s worth remembering just how hard won

these fledgling republics’ liberty was.

Peru’s war of independence lasted from 1811 to 1824.

Please note, I am making no applications

to modern independence movements.

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10 seconds of my life

I was waiting for the bus one day

when two people passed by, pushing a heavy trolley,

probably a fast food stall.

One was an older, heavyset woman,

and the other a young man.They were both

putting their backs into the pushing.

As they passed, the young man turned his head and stared at me

with ferocious intensity.

What did it mean? Was it:

How dare you sit at ease, waiting for your bus, while I have to toil here?

I have no idea. And no way of knowing.

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Green no more?

first sight

When I first visited Colombia in 2006

my reaction was “Wow, this country is GREEN”

and with very few exceptions (the Coast earlier this year),

everywhere I have ever been in Colombia

has been beautiful and lush and green.

But now, the country is drying up at the edges.

One hundred and seventeen municipalities

are reporting drought conditions and distressing images

are emerging of dying livestock and parched landscapes.

Greedy, polluting multinationals? Global warming?

The El Niño effect? I’ve no idea, but it’s painful to see.

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A compulsive need to commentate

I’ve noticed I have tendency to commentate my taxi journeys.

Very busy time of day, I say.

Or: This might take a while, as we crawl along.

Or: I think there must be an accident ahead because it’s not usually like this at this time.

[When we pass the accident] Ah, I was right.

Why the need to state the obvious?

I don’t think it has anything to do with what’s going on outside,

I just have a compulsive need to communicate.

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James goes to Real Madrid

After days of speculation, Colombia’s World Cup star, James Rodríguez

was presented as a Real Madrid player yesterday,

triggering a media frenzy and and an another outpouring of national pride.

The news channels here interviewed ANYONE who had had anything to do with James,

including, if I am not mistaken, the notary who registered his birth.

Some footage was found of James as a child

(he had exactly the same baby face as he has now)

impressively curving the ball into the penalty box

and being interviewed about his future plans.

I want to play for Tolima, he said,

and after that, wherever God wants.

PS It’s pronounced HA-mes.

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Overheard on the metro

A young woman is talking on her mobile phone.

She is talking in a quiet, almost monotonous voice.

This is what she is saying:

They took the motorbike, some papers…

they got in through the balcony, they were using the place

to sell drugs, and I don’t like that.

They are actually my neighbours.

They took the television and the sound system,

and all my university papers, and I went to the police to report it,

and then they threatened me so I had to leave.

If you’d like I can come to you and we can talk about it face to face.

And then it was my stop and that was the end of the story for me.

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A stream or a waterfall?


On Sunday at church I found myself singing something like this in the worship time: I want to drink from your stream.

This is not an uncommon idea in Christian devotional language;

Jesus does, after all, promise to give us living water,

but when I shut my eyes to picture the scene,

the image that came to mind was not a gentle, civilized stream,

but a roaring, deafening, unceasing cataract, the Niagara or Victoria Falls.

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Warm but useless tears*

It’s time to talk about the victims of the conflict

at the peace talks taking place in Havana

between the Government and the FARC.

Sixty victims are being selected to go to Havana

to represent the (at least) six million people

directly affected by the armed conflict.

Last week I watched some of the victims’ stories

on Colombia’s cable news channel.

The stories are told by the surviving family members:

-the father, his face shining with love, tells the story of his little boy fatally wounded in a minefield, I carried him on my back and he said “Give me a hug and a kiss” and then it was over.

-the son whose father was held captive by the FARC for almost 14 years, before they murdered him in cold blood.

I cried warm but useless tears but not to have cried would have been worse.

*I got this phrase from this report on Gaza.

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Independence Day


Yesterday, Colombia celebrated the declaration

of her independence from Spain, on 20th July 1810.

In Medellín, the first military parade for 18 years was held to mark the day,

nearly scuppering my attempts to get to church, but some nifty work by the taxi driver got me there, half way through the worship.

On Friday, school children wore their Colombian football shirts,

a little friend had her face painted with the Colombia flag,

and her hair held up with a Colombian flag bobble.

I love my bobble, she said, taking it off and holding it to her cheek.

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