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 towww.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