Delivery man

One day, my flatmate ordered a home grocery delivery.

When I opened the door to the delivery man, I discovered that he was talking, seemingly to himself. But he was not crazy, just talking on a hands-free phone.

Which he continued to do as he brought the bags in.

And this is what he was saying:

Listen, sweetheart. He’s fine for just now. Enjoy yourself. That’s fine. But you and I both know that he is not the the man for your life, not the man to make plans with. He can be your boyfriend for now, that’s OK, but you know that long term this isn’t going anywhere.

We reckon he was talking to his daughter.

It was very funny.

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Teachers’ strike

The teachers’ strike, affecting all public (i.e. state) schools goes on. There are 350,000 teachers in the public sector and 8 million children are affected.

Here are some of the posters on the walls of a school near where I work:

Teachers protesting are still teaching

The translation is provided below (in red), I’m not sure why! For passing gringos like me, maybe.

For the defense of public education! Mariscal Robledo (the name of the school).

Long live the national strike!

Dear students, I am very sorry that I am not here in the classroom, I had to leave to fight for your rights. Understand that I have no option but to protest, I haven’t stopped teaching.

I am teaching you to fight.

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Not what it seems

So walking around my new neighbourhood, I saw this:

We have a special menu for your pet, it says.

Oh, I thought. I feel a blogpost coming on.

A menu for pets! In a country where 81 children younger than 5 have died of malnutrition since the beginning of the year, a menu for pets seems a bit obscene.

But then I looked more closely and I think it’s just an advert for pet food.

Pet food with the wonderful name of Barf!

So still worth a blogpost, I think.

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Conversation in a taxi

Taxi drivers in Medellín are usually registered and their information included on a piece of yellow cardboard that hangs over the passenger seat so that anyone seated in the back can see it.

The information includes the driver’s blood type. This is very common here, motorcyclists have it stenciled on their helmets, soldiers beside their names on their uniforms and everybody has it registered on their ID cards.

I pay attention to this because I have a relatively uncommon one (B+) and it is slightly rarer here than in the UK. It is more common the further east you go.

So one day I had this little conversation with a taxi driver:

Me: You have an unusual blood group. It’s the same one as mine, so that’s how I know.

TD: Oh, yes?

Me: It’s more common abroad than here.

TD: Well, I am not from here.

Me: Oh, where are you from? [imagining North Africa or Eastern Europe]

TD: Venezuela.

He is one of an estimated 900,000 Venezuelans living in Colombia, part of the greatest wave of immigration in the country’s history. There are now municipalities on the Caribbean coast where there are more Venezuelans than Colombians.

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Look what’s round the corner

At the moment, I am staying with a friend in another part of Medellin while her parents are away.

It’s a nice area to walk around in and look what I found round the corner:  a block of flats named after my home town!

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The BBC recently reported that 12 members of the FARC had made the transition to civilian life at a ceremony attended by representatives of the UN.

That’s twelve down, just 6988 to go!

So Colombia is entering a new, golden era of peace, right?

Well, not exactly.

Remember, that the FARC are not the only armed group operating in Colombia. The second biggest, the ELN, is still active, and the criminal gangs, successors to the right-wing paramilitary groups which disarmed 10 to 15 years ago, are moving into the areas vacated by the FARC. In one place, a town begged the FARC not to leave because they were more afraid of who might replace them. And 300 guerrilleros are reportedly fighting on.

Away from the conflict, a third of the country’s provinces are at risk of flooding and half a million workers, including teachers and prisons guards, are on strike.

If all that leaves you a bit gloomy, please read this, a beautiful piece by Sandra Ines Henao, the  wife of an  army general, who volunteers at the military hospital in Bogotá. Last year the hospital received on 36 soldiers injured in combat and this year, none!

And if, after reading all this, you can’t quite work what you feel, welcome to my world!

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Here’s one young man who hasn’t joined an armed group

At the circus in January, I spotted a young lad who looked familiar.

“¿Miguel?” I asked.

And so it was. Miguel had his photo taken by a photographer who visited his Vive Kids Club in 2012 and is now 17 years old, an active member of his church group and a service-hearted and friendly young man.



This is what it’s all about.

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