The Coast never disappoints

I had a quick visit to the Coast last weekend to do some training.

I was there about 48 hours but of course there was fun stuff to see:

– a place called Bad Attitude Hill

– a lad opening a coconut with a machete

– an old woman with a bag of oranges on her head

– and a T-shirt being worn by as upstanding a person as you could wish for with the words (in English): It feels so good to be bad.

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Walking down the hill

I walk down the hill from my flat to the metro station every day so I am getting to know the tenacious people who walk or cycle up it.

Of course, since we are in Colombia, we greet each other warmly, and if we happen to be on the other side of the street, we wave.

On Monday, one lad who cycles up the hill wheezed to me, “Buy a bike and then you’ll be able to cycle down the hill.”

On Tuesday as we met, he said, “Bike, bike.”

“What about going back up?” I called after him.

“Legs,” he shouted, patting his own.

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Taxi ride home

Yesterday, the traffic up the hill was so terrible that my taxi driver started taking selfies to pass the time.

Then he was driven to a massive rant by a traffic police waving cars through a green traffic light.

“If there is one thing that is – excuse my language – more like a puppet, it’s a traffic policeman waving traffic through a green traffic light. I mean, everybody in the world KNOWS that you can go through a green traffic light. If she was waving us through a red traffic light, that might be of some us, but through a green light…that’s no use at all.”

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The peace process – how to pray

Yesterday we had our monthly morning of prayer at Vive Kids and I had the task of leading a slot in which we prayed for the peace process which has been going on in Havana, Cuba between the Colombian government and the FARC guerrilla group for over 1,000 days.

I had the idea of taking the five areas being covered in the talks and thinking about what the Bible might say about each one.

The areas are:

1) Agrarian Reform

2) The drug trade

3) Political representation (how the FARC will participate in politics after any deal)

4) The Victims

5) Disarmament.

The ensuing conversation and prayers were fascinating and moving. Some key words were: justice, forgiveness, wisdom, praying for our leaders and for our enemies, protection (the last time the FARC tried to launch a political party its members were almost completely wiped out), change at the level of people’s hearts, care of the environment, restoration, restitution and reparation.

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Mis chanclas


The Spanish word for these sort of flip flops is chanclas, which is a word I like.

I bought these to go on the mission to El Salado in 2011 and they have lasted until now, having coped with dust, mud, being squashed into small spaces, being worn in the shower and in the sea.

But today I finally caved in and bought new ones:


You can tell I’ve been in Colombia a bit longer now!

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From the bus (2)

A little boy is walking along with his dad.

There are some big bags of rubbish on the pavement and the little boy wants to leap over them so his dad obliges, lifting him up by the arms so he can swing triumphantly over them.

A bit like this:

For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall (or a rubbish bag, in this case). Psalm 18:29

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From the bus (1)

Two little boys run away from their mum and hide behind a wall.

The bus rushes on so I don’t see what happens next but I can guess: they are going to jump out at their mum and she is going to pretend to get a fright.

It never gets old.

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At the T-shirt printing shop

Today I went to get a T-shirt printed as a goodbye present for a friend. The shop was a hive of paisa industry with orders being taken, stencils being cut out and the T-shirts being stamped.

As I explained my design to a helpful young woman, another member of staff was looking for images of Pablo Escobar. “I need the one that says Pablo,” he said, impatiently.

“You’ll have to get that off the Internet,” someone suggested.

And indeed, around the shop were several designs of Medellín’s most notorious narco-criminal.

In stark contrast, was the lady getting a pile of T-shirts printed with a variety of different Bible verses.

The one that I was able to read upside down and back to front was: “She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak,” from Luke 8:44, which was an intriguing choice to be printed on a T-shirt, I felt.

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Some good news

If yesterday’s post was a bit alarming (sorry, mum) here is a good news story.

Working together with FARC guerrillas in a pilot project, Colombian soldiers this week destroyed two antipersonnel mines in a village in Antioquia (the region around Medellín where I live).

It’s mainly a symbolic gesture when you consider that the village – with 100 residents – may have had up to  3000 mines laid in its vicinity.

But it’s a step, however tiny, in the right direction.

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