Tuesday, June 26, 2007

i write this entry smiling broadly as i find myslelf in a place that is saturated of smog...but i have managed to find a patch of a place that is filled with the aroma of freshly cut knee-high grass.....it reminds me of soccer season. i also got to go for a run this morning...in the drizzle.... my legs had almost forgot how to put one in front of the other quicker than what one needs to hike up a mountain or walk along a sidewalk.
The winds have picked up for me, and my wings have spread out as the summer air currents offer me a chance to sail and ruffle my feathers. I have accepted this offer of change....and now write my last email from the country that has been my home for the past year-Colombia. I wrote a bit of this while i was in La Union still working with FOR, and another bit today as i prepare for my departure back to Canada....

I listen to the pigeons that have gathered on our roof, their little feet scratching on our tin roof and their soft gurggling as they play with each other. This is definately a noise I will associate with my experience here in La Union as i wake up to the morning sun and periodically throughout the day. The gentle breeze flows in through our open office window and I look over to see the cotton ball clouds watching us from the blue sky, and I drink in the crisp outline of delicious combination of green from every leaf on the mountain side. A small group of folks have gathered to sit in front of our neighbours home to chat and all enjoy the calm afternoon. Today is Sunday, the only day that the campesinos take off from going to tend to their crops and gives La Union a livelier feel. A few munchkins have wandered in our open door and come to see what is all that exciting in our little office space that would keep me there on a sunday. One hops onto my lap and others look around at the various objects they will only find in our house......files, portable CD player hooked up to mini-speakers, a little plastic lizard, tape, the deflated soccer balls in the corner. Their feet are naked of dress besides the glistening goo of mud and their clothes are joyfully marked with evidence of their exploration of life.

The one on my lap, Ander, has a little mop-top of black hair, big eyes and a always present smile. He smells of play, a distinct smell i have come to connect with the kids of LU when they have played hard for the entire day, combining the aromas of the elements mixed with a shake of their own essence. I often smell like this when their little feet and hands clamber all over me and encourage me to throw them in the air, spin them around or flip them upsidedown.....its a smell that makes me grin. After conversing a bit with them and lending out a colourful foam map of Colombia and all the departments which they take out to our front porch, i refocus on the flat screen computer that sits in front of me and keep typing.

I sip up the last drops of my experience living as a human rights accompanier in the Peace Community in the mountains of Colombia. I sip with much awareness and keeping the sweetness of it rolling around on my tongue wanting to savor it as much as I can. Always knowing that I will have to be leaving, it still doesn't make it easier to leave once the time arrives. I will be saying my farewells in these next days, to the place that has been my home for the past year, to the community of people that have been so gracious to share their lives with me and show me life as they experience it, they have been my family here. This year has been abundant in lessons and growth in all aspects of my being, and for this i am grateful. I will be physically saying goodbye to the Peace Community, but knowing that the seeds have just but been planted and that over the lifetime, I will continue to taste the lessons of the fruit of my time here. I am so thankful for having the privilege of being here, and am excited to see what other plants and seeds will in turn be produced.

"Gracias a Dios" (Thankyou to God/Goddess) my time here has been relatively quiet compared to the horror of massacres and dark days filled of fear that have taken place here through time, but then still much has happened on subtler levels than obvious slayings. The stage is being set for an unknown that the universe holds for the lives of the campesinos. While I've been here, thousands of paramilitaries have 'demobilized', the unearthing of the paramilitary and the political ties have exploded all over the medai, groups of demobilized paramilitaries have reformed, the endless threats towards the community persist by the paramilitaries and the military, the presence of the police and military nearby loom as a constant reminder that the campesinos do not live in the place of peace they dream of, the shadows of the guerrilla pass off in the mountains, the news of the various people having been killed all over the country continue to flood the news, the forced displacement of people persist, the bringing to light the connections the Uribe (the current president) has with paramilitary groups, our Bogota office being broken into, the killing of a community member in town (for more info on any of these, go to

www.forcolobmia.org) ....all this amidst the need to surrender to the cycles of ´pachamama´ (mother nature) . The swelling rivers rise and fall with the rain that is gifted to the land, the tending and gathering of crops, washing clothes, preparing food, collecting fire wood and catching up with friends and family in the community. Babies keep being born into the lives that the community has created, families growing.....a sign that they continue to burn their flame of hope strong and that peace will one day return to their land, and this fire will burn so strongly that no fear, spite or hatred will be able to enter.

i spent a good week preparing cards for folks of the community, taking pictures, going around handing them out and saying my 'until next time's`. I reasured them all that i would not forget about them (¿¿how could one forget an experience as this??) and that i would return as soon as i could, but that could take up to 5 years. Everyone was quick to laugh and say that was and endless amount of time away. It was an amount of time too far into the future....for their lives are lived day to day, with the uncertainty of the unexpected around every setting of the moon, never knowing when will be their last day. But after hearing 5 years for a while, they got used to the idea that i would come back and then i could continue with saying goodbyes.

It was also incredibly difficult to say farewell to my two team mates and dear friends AJ and Mayra who have shared life with me in La Union. But I also know it will be easier to see them in North America relatively soon....and look very much forward to that!

I ended up leaving La Union at the beginning of June and have been spending the past 3 weeks traveling around Colombia with a friend (Avairy) from the Kootenays as a bit of a transition period before diving back into the fast paced culture i left behind in Canada. It has been really wonderful to get to know Colombia in a different context outside of work and the Peace Community.

One thing i did notice onour travels, was that the journey that we chose to take allowed us to be tourist in a country that has been in civil for 50 years, yet we could have easily thougth that not a thing was going on at all. Even as we bumped along the winding roads on the mountains the only evidence we could see of any fighting was some military at check points or littered along the road. Everyone was unbelievably kind and generous throughout every place we had the chace to visit., very warming to the heart and spirit. So much pain and suffering as a country, yet such joyful souls. The biodiversity and cultural diversity in Colombia is so rich it bubbles up out of every pebble, it is a jewel of a country that provided amples of times to be in awe, wonder and singing in my heart.

i find myself at counting but 3 nights left in Bogota, and then i will be whisked away in a metal tube with unflappable wings across Turtle island, following the north star until i get to Victoria to be greeted by the loving arms of my beautiful parents. I then spend almost two weeks there and attend the excitement of the Under 20 World Cup soccer and catch up with family and friends. I am most excited to see folks again, to catch up, and share adventures. If you will be in West side of Canada....let me know and we can have tea!!!! (best way to contact me would be email).

Thank you to you all that have supported me thoughout my year here in colombia. its hard to believe that its already time to wrap up this chapter of my life, and commence another..... I have deeply appreciated all the love, prayers and support that have allowed me to have this experience. I look forward to sharing it in more depth and in person when i return home.

sweet bee nectar glisening in the suns kiss and the delicious smell of freshly cut wet grass

Monday, May 21, 2007

a flow

with Silence, she carried clarity,
Her unspoken presence fills the room with light as she enters and chases away the darkness
A cascade of a noiseless waterfall calling out in a loving embrace
Kissing you with a soft whisper that breaks the chains of your prison

The days when time's great forests filled the valleys are dwindling,
now is the time we chose to forgot to see her relationship with the wind, the rain and the fire.
We were are thrown into an eddy in the swift flowing river of life and have become stagnant in our own collective destructive thoughts…

What dimension are we inviting to come upon us??
when the dwindling waters are poisoned and the last flower takes her breath we will be left with the raw knowledge of our ancestors….
Do we have the ability to access that with all the hate that is darkening our vision and hardening our hearts?

The cycles are saying that it is the hour that we change the lens of yesterday and replace it with a new lens that allows us to see through the world of illusion we have created.
To release the cold dead ash of restricted thought of that which we hold on to so tightly in fear of the limitless potential we contain.

Fill our veins with kindness to heal the wounds of our brothers and sisters
pain and suffering knows no borders,
it leaks out and stains the flesh of that which it surrounds
let us put an end to the cycle of the same wounds from opening with the same dagger,
simply held by a different hand…..but in the hearts all hold fear, anger and hatred.

Our pain is the sickness of humankind.
This will only end when we learn to heal ourselves.
We are sick, for we have no knowing of ourselves or the part we play in life.
We stand alone……alone and very afraid.

The freedom of fluidity is to look at oneself and see that we contain all that we could ever desire.
Fluidity is not what you do but how you do it, a state of mind.
To break rigidity may cause pain, but to retain it "is" pain.
Fluidity resists not, nor does it pain.

What would this would be if we all exploded out of our tightly bound buds??
Can we release our desire to suffer?
Only fear needs to hold onto things and name it "home"…a place of habit, safety and comfort.
When will we chose to breathe beauty rather than set a raging fire to all that is unknown and feared.

Humankind is not tree…..this is not our path…
We need to break free from our shell and swim in the Universe of that which 'IS'
Unscrambling what we have created and taste the truth.
See the perfection in every moment….
In every blade of grass, of every snail, of every hibernating seed, of the lowly moss to the greatest tree,

Know it
Become it
Live it

Embrace your truth
Dance to the music in your being
Follow the star in your heart that is so perfectly positioned
Listen to the collective human song, but don't be afraid to sing your own song.
Dissolve the concept of separation
Learn to accept the fruit which is always an offer to you
Receive it with love and humility.
Look at the reflection of your light and allow that to spill out onto the earth

Your presence here is welcomed
Find your place in the family of things
We are not separate in consciousness, just individual
Explore your inner dimension.

Stretch your imagination
Disturb the slumbering Self within
Let go and fall into the river of life…let it sweep you beyond all aid from old and worn concepts
Chose to cease walking alone and alienated from the abundance of energy that surrounds you
Blindly take the hand of higher consciousness that lies beyond our physical world

Open your arms to the Spirit of Change.
Listen to your dreams.
Go places you never thought possible to visit
Soar with the Eagle on higher thermals
Carry your dream, your vision
Absorb the new perspective
Any pattern of thought which knows not the freedom of space will become a burden
Be aware of your own flight path
Let the winds of change be ever fresh on your face.

See your inner colours change as the patterns of your inner Self dance to the new rhythm of life.
Blend your notes to the song of the Universe
Be aware of the life beyond that which you are
Every leaf bursts with the hidden energy of spring.

Our five senses are both the freedom of our expression and the walls of our prison.
Create through the power of visualization
Dare to imagine there is more beyond the known boundaries.
Sip from the sweet nectar of wisdom that silence embodies
Discover the secret that is hidden behind the veils of ego and the concept of separation

Unleash the flower of words that moves from beyond your barriers

Mortality, but a single moment in infinity.
Truth is infinite
Human minds can span infinitely to know the pulse of the Universal Oneness
We are echoes of each other
Instead of resisting the bombarding echoes,
Reclaim your voice and create a symphony
Melt your ironclad belief system of how the world works

Enter this time of change as a container of spiritual energy.
We are vibrations of the energies of the design of life
Only the container is physical and limited to what our minds impose upon it
We are but reflections of what we hold within our soft beings
Help the universe unfold, share it, feel it, connect with it

We are all united in Spirit
Go in Peace into the clutching fingers of the unknown
Drink from the forgotten pool of our ancient past
Recognize the symbols that you encounter on your path
Dream not with your head, but with your heart
Allow the ancient lineage to be undusted and intertwine it with the present and future
Time is the weaver of the illusion humankind believes is life.

Buttons woven onto the fabric of life

Visit the flowers with curiosity
Taste the delicate juice it offers to honor your visit
Collect them with gratitude
Weave these colourful buttons onto the fabric of life you wear
Redistribute it to others you encounter on your journey
Link the present and your dreams with your past.
Allow the dust of your footprints to settle behind you and change that which was

The cavern of the inner journey will extend beyond the physical confines of your mind
Allow them to continue.
Rest during times of stillness and know that stillness continues to carry the seed of change
Honor the times of hibernation
Do not force that which is not ready to emerge
All things have their time
Welcome Patience to flourish

Test the strength of your newly found wings
Throw your physical body from the inviting cliffs
Learn to soar on your inner thermals
Let your mind be carried on the safe wings of wisdom onto the higher rarer thermals.

Accept the neglected gift offered to us
All will benefit as each individual finds and reaches beyond their inner freedom
Reach in,
Reach out,
And fly my friend….fly

Leave behind all your mental burdens
Acknowledge and greet the emotion and conscious intelligence of the plant and animal world as you release your struggle of survival and enter a different level
Drop your resistance and allow the breeze to move through you
Allow the inner energy of the stream pour through your inner being and purify your being

Divine timing
The time has arrived
Welcome it
Take my hand
We will jump together
Physical separation only invites the opportunity to connect on a different level
We will meet there whenever we want without the constraints physical bodies hold

Do not be drawn into old thought patterns
Relax into this new movement
Do not doubt your experience
Plant your seeds carefully and with intention
For what you plant will quickly provide its fruit
Observe the differences, but most importantly the similarities
Link the subtleties and unconscious memories
Allow long forgotten connections to resurface on the wind
Prepare for a giant leap

Don't forget to breathe…
This is a majikal journey and it is awaiting your arrival
Grace it with your presence.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

dry spells

I have just returned from accompanying the health promoter (now down to one) who will be partaking in the 2nd training. News from the area near where she is training (Cacarica) is that there is a dry spell currently with which brings much diarrhea and lack of water. Already many children have died of dehydration as the rehydration liquids are not accessible to them. It´s such a reminder how lucky we are to have water in La Union.

Well, the little microscopic friends that are so common here have once again made their presence known. My two teammates have both had some pretty rough encounters with the little fellas, I have luckily been spared but it seems to be a bit of a trend currently. Other folks are getting the same icky sickness, not much to be done besides rehydration fluids (which are more easily accessible for us) and resting up.

A slew of folks from Portugal have just arrived to the Peace Community, amidst them, a nurse, a doctor and engineers. They will be setting up a water purifying station, put up solar panels to provide their own electricity for La Holandita and build a small health clinic. All this along with the preparations for the 10th anniversary this 23rd of March…its all really quite exciting.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

health promoter voyage

Like the six fingered man from Princes Bride so wisely said, “if you haven’t got your health, you haven’t got anything”. ………..health…… here in the community it seems that sickness is a much more accepted part of life than in Canada; fever, malaria, diarrhea, headaches, machete cuts, body aches, strange little bites from microscopic insects… they seem to come into people’s lives and people accept it without blaming the world. Since the nuns (who were accompanying La Union) left a more than a year ago, we have become the place to be visited when folks are hurting for some sort of pain killer or a band aid.

Because of where we live, it’s a 1.5 hour walk down the mountain and then a 30 min jeep ride to get to town to seek medical attention and costs 3.50$ round trip . Even before the ‘ruptura’ (the breach of speaking or having anything to do with the state since the Feb 05 massacre leading to the imposing of the police post in San Jose. Also for the complete impunity of all the crimes committed against the community, they’ve decided not to have any ties with the state until the state begins persecuting those responsible for abusing and killing the community…this they call ruptura), folks from La Union had to walk the 1.5 hours down to San Jose where there is a small clinic limited in services it could provide. For those folks that are too ill to walk down, ride down on a horse and if they have no strength to be able to stay on a horse, they are carried down by a group of men in a hammock. Most folks go down to Apartado if they are way too sick to work and need to see someone.

However, there is a doctor known as Dr. Alan Wands, an American who has been working in the Choco (department next to Antioquilla where we live) teaching the people from their own communities how to be health promoters. This is a much more sustainable method than the ‘Doctors Without Borders’ (DWB) method; entering into an area with all the doctors and free medicine for 3 years. When they do this, all the local doctors are no longer visited, so end up leaving or stop practicing and the small local pharmacies go out of business as everyone is receiving the free drugs from the DWB. When the doctors end up pulling out after their 3 years, the community is left high and dry with less structure than they had before to be able to now deal with those that get sick. However, the DWB presence is amazing for disaster zones and relief work but for any sustainable model they are detrimental.

So Dr. Wands has been encouraging the community for some time to send some of their members to a training lasting 3 years, of about a week every month or two where they learn the skills and are given minimal drugs to sell at cost to their community. This is an amazing program that is built on the model of lasting….its really very exciting and we (those of us with FOR) were incredibly thrilled that this year the Peace Community would be sending two womyn to participate in the training, one from La Union and one from La Holandita….and we would have the opportunity to accompany them to their training.

Janice (my teammate) and I departed from La Union to La Holandita where we met up with the two health-to-be-promoters. It was a bit of a tardy departure just as the sun was setting. We sat on the top of the chiva (jeep) trying to dodge the bugs that smacked into our face as we sped along the dirt road to Apartadó. We then headed in a small minibus to Turbo, the port town right on the gulf of Uraba where the following morning we would take the boat up the windy Atrato River to Rio Sucio where they would be having their training.
We stayed in a hotel, for one of them it was the first time staying in a hotel.

We awoke at 0630 to have enough time to get to the wafle (where all the boats leave from) and join the crowd that had gathered around the little window where we needed to make our reservations and pay for our ride. Despite the time, the sun had already made a noticeable presence and I was happy to find some shade. As I waited, I peered out onto the ports watery surface, littered with floating garbage mostly plastic types atop of the black coloured water. The stench was potent of all sorts of sewage water that had made its way to the port. I looked out at the little stands selling fish and was relieved that I am a vegan.

Only 1.5 hours after we thought the boat was to leave, we got our bags searched by a burly policeman before stuffing them into big plastic bags to protect them from the spray. We squished into the narrow panga (little boat) and strapped on our orange and blue lifejackets. We were off, leaving a cloud of blue exhaust behind us as we exited the port. About 5 minutes out we arrived at the police check point where our driver handed over a paper listing all our names and ID numbers. We were quickly waved through and crossed the surprisingly calm gulf to the mouth of the Atrato. We passed the little colourful houses of the Afro Colombian population that made their living off of fishing from the waters. Much to our surprise, 20 minutes into our ride the panga slowed again and docked at a little riverside restaurant. Everyone jumped out. We were told it was a fish breakfast stop…we couldn´t help but chuckle and patiently wait.

When everyone had their fill of fish, we continued our journey up the river. The vegetation hugged the banks, the wind tugged at our hair and the sun beating overhead made me regret forgetting a hat. We were now in el Choco, the municipalities with the largest Afro Colombian population, has the biggest enter and exit of arms and drugs from Colombia and is exceptionally challenging to travel in (most travel is done by river). The man sitting behind me told me about the film he was to make about the Indigenous community that cuts down wood and then floats down the tributary rivers on the logs with their families to the place they would be sold. He also pointed out the tree that is harvested in order to print money.

I drifted in and out of sleep wishing I had a hat feeling the sun crisping my face…my nose turn a deeper shade of red despite applying a thick coat of SPF 50. We followed the river curling along the Choco floor where the river had chosen its current yet ever-changing path. After 2.5 hours, we arrived to Rio Sucio.

Rio Sucio, the community of 19,000 Afro Colombians that have all been displaced from elsewhere and now found themselves in Rio Sucio. We pilled out of the panga onto the collection of boards acting as the dock and were welcomed by a smiling Dr. Wands. I noticed the latrines that were floating on the shore…emptying right into the water. Next to these womyn were busy washing their dishes and next to them little people jumping into the water….. hmmmm.

He led us along the sand road lined with houses perched up on stilts. He told us that usually every year the river would swell and usually always enter the houses of Rio Sucio even if they were raised off the ground. At which point folks would build provisional shelves in their houses up above the water, planks leading from room to room and live their lives above their new uninvited guest. The roads transformed into single planks leading to another plank from house to house, the entire city temporarily (sometimes up to 3 months) transformed into a mini variation of Venice. Wands said that meeting someone along the plank was always a bit tricky and not uncommon that folks would fall in. There were deaths every year due to drowning, yet folks seemed to adapt rather nonchalantly to the watery invader.

We arrived to where the health promoter classes would be held, it was a fairly new building still with the smell of paint clinging to the walls. There were shelves filled with colourful anatomy books, charts and plastic models of various body parts. We were the first to arrive of the 18 others coming from a variety of different communities. We left the two womyn there, wished them well for their week of training and headed off with Wands through the town dodging motocycles that would zip by. Dr. Wands informed us that there were no vehicles in the town but folks sure did like their motorcycles. We then thanked Dr. Wands, hopped into a chiva (jeep) and began our 6 hour bumpy dusty ride back to Turbo…..content that the community health promoters were on their way to be trained and soon would be providing healthcare to their friends and family.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Well, here I am again.....looking at my blog entries and I feel a bit sheepish…hehehe. I keep wanting to write, then feeling so overwhelmed that so much has happened since the last and lonely time I have entered something….unsure of what to write, so much I want to share yet not wanting to write everything all at the same time….i end up not writing anything at all….hmmm not very productive in sharing my experience. So today it is time to at least let folks know I am still alive and slowly begin to catch up on some of the much that has been going on. It has been quite busy that it has been challenging to find time to write up what´s been happening but in the next few days I will find time to do so.

I will just like to say real quick that there has been 69 soldiers that are under investigation for the February 2005 massacre of 8 members of the Peace Community including 3 children. It is amazing that some actions have been taken as the impunity in Colombia dominates all cases of human rights violations. Perhaps on the way towards some sort of accountability.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

this is me on my birthday in Bogota....it is meant to be my profile photo but at the moment i am having some technical difficulties...so it will be here right now....

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Snotty-Nosed Treasure Seekers

We were on our back porch busy shelling toasted cacao beans to prepare them to be passed through the hand grinder and come out a rich, creamy goo of pure cacao (will write about this process another time when we were visited by two dirty barefooted munchkins that had just returned from a two week visit at their Grandparents house in Medellin. One was straddling a stick that was really his cow, the other pulling a plastic truck on a yellow leash of 'cabouilla' (cabouilla is the campo equal to duct tape...it seems to be able to fix everything, it's plastic string)

They played with us for a bit, climbing all over us, but were mostly interested in tasting the raisins in my oatmeal. Once those were all gone, their attention veered to Aj and her bag of granola with dried fruit which she dropped in pinches into their eagerly awaiting little hands. When the bag was empty, and they were tired of helping us shell cacao, they developed an overwhelming interest to getting down on all fours and peering through the cracks of our planked floor. Our house sits above a gravel space big enough for little beings to crawl underneath. Because the boards don’t fit together perfectly, the cracks become a patient black hole to any fallen articles that are slim enough to fit through the cracks….and let me tell you we have lost many a things to our hungry underhouse. These floor spaces are also very convenient when we sweep because most of the dust we accumulate gets swept into the cracks before we can sweep it out the door.

Bums in the air and eyes pressed to the floor cracks, these two treasure seekers got more and more excited as they kept spotting things nesstled in the dust below the house. Faster than you can say ‘roasting plantanes’, they were down in our garden and beside our house to the place where they could squeeze through some rocks and crawl under our house. I’ve never been below the house, but with all the horse, cow, chicken poop and dried mud that people bring in stuck to their gumboots and sandals that fall between the cracks, it is not really the first place I would want to be crawling around in.

As they inched their little bodies between the earth and wood, they would scream our names as they discovered a treasure and push it up through the cracks. They found such treasures as colourful tacks, a water tap, a map of the Medellin metro, pens and pen lids.
Their little smiling faces peeked out from below the house, noses running with snot and a smile stretched ear to ear.