Ages ago I blogged about Armero, the town that was wiped out by a mudslide caused by an erupting volcano in 1985.

Now comes the story of two sisters, aged three and nine at the time of the tragedy, finally reunited after 30 years apart, after DNA tests proved that they were indeed sisters. They were adopted by different families and thought the other had died until recently.

Finally, a happy story about Armero.

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It’s Columbia not Colombia

If you have followed this blog for a while, you might know that I have a bit of a bee in my bonnet about the country of Colombia being wrongly spelled Columbia.

So I was amused to see the opposite mistake being made by the Times newspaper last Saturday. On page 3, they reported on an ironing machine being developed by Colombia University.

But of course, they meant Columbia University in New York.

If an ironing machine might be of interest, you can see a demonstration on youtube.

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Old? Me?

I overheard a little interaction in our corner shop.

Two teenagers were breathlessly telling the lad behind the counter, who was obviously a mate, about something that had happened.

From what I overheard I think they must have built or made something – I imagine a hide or tree house or some such thing and someone – a woman – destroyed it. They even had photos on their mobile phone to prove it.

Then the guy behind the counter asked, “Was she old?”

And one of the teenagers said, “Forty.”

But I couldn’t tell from their tone of voice if that meant yes or no.

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Something of the only child

The American writer, Anne Tyler, describes a character in one of her books like this:

…there was something of the only child in her character – an air of perennial daughterliness, an excessive concern for her parents’ good opinion of her.

Anne Tyler, Noah’s Compass, pg156.

I’m saying nothing.

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A Colombian life

Whenever I haven’t got anything particular to say on my blog, I just go to a Colombian news-site and there is always something interesting to pass on.

Today it is the story of Cruz Elena, a hundred-year-old victim of Colombia’s conflict, who, after being featured in the press a couple of weeks ago, has been financially compensated by the Colombian state. In addition, a group of people from a newspaper and a university in Medellin have got together to make it possible for her to see the sea for the first time in her life.

As well as losing two sons in the conflict, she has been displaced from her little farm SIX times in her life.

In 1947 and 1957 by the violence between the Conservative and Liberal Parties.

In 1987 by the ELN (Colombia’s second biggest left-wing rebel group).

In 1990, 1992 and 2001 by Medellin’s urban militias.

Even if you don’t speak Spanish, take a look at the video of Cruz Elena and marvel at the Colombian’s campesino’s capacity to endure and to forgive.

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Moral dilemma

Yesterday, I saw a man loading shopping into his car and noticed that he had dropped a packet of cigarettes.

I wondered if I should:

a) point out that he had dropped them


b) knowing they are harmful to him, not tell him.

In the event, he noticed himself and picked them up, solving the problem for me.

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Global village

Recently I got the opportunity to speak to a group of children aged around ten about the life of a displaced child in Colombia.

I explained how armed groups force people off their land and talked about the poor conditions displaced people often live in.

After my talk, one ten-year-old boy came up to me and asked if the members of the armed group had been radicalized.

I explained, “No, they don’t have any particular ideology, they are probably motivated by greed as much as anything else.”

Afterwards I thought:

1) How good to see a child trying to make sense of the world in terms of the categories (e.g. radicalization) that he knows.

2) How sad that a ten-year-old growing up a peaceful country has to engage with such things.

But then, when I was ten, I worried about nuclear war.

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