Thursday, December 4, 2008

A few things I've learned after 6 months

I recently returned from a week vacation, spent with my mom in Medellin. To be honest, we didn't do much besides eat, drink and relax, but for me it was perfect: what I really needed was a break from my rice-and-beans diet and from constantly thinking about men with guns. My mom had many questions for me about my life and work in Colombia, of course, so the subject was never far from my mind. At one point, as we discussed my life and work here, she posed a question that I had considered in the abstract, but never in concrete terms: what have I learned?
So, here I present a list of a some of the things I have learned over the past 6 months:
  • how to hike through a mud pit without getting stuck - and when stuck, how to dig out one's boot
  • how to live and work with someone without driving myself or the other person entirely crazy
  • how to differentiate the sounds of combat fire from random shots
  • that neutrality is seldom black and white
  • exactly how many giant avocados I can eat in one day (3)
  • how to hand-wash laundry
  • how to bite my tongue, particularly in front of army officials with whom I strongly disagree
  • the difference between a banano, primativo, manzano and plátano
  • that many terms can be used to refer to the same phenomenon - and that each term has immense political implications (eg: paramilitary vs. criminal band vs. armed actor vs. rearmed group)
  • that a bit of diarhea here and there isn’t worth much worry
  • that one can lose a brother, sister, aunt, father, grandparent, and inumerable cousins, yet still fiercely cling to one’s own life
  • how to use a pressure cooker
  • how to dance the double-step rhythm of vallenato
  • how to recognize the sound of an army helicopter from miles and miles away
  • that gardening in extremely productive soil is both a blessing and a curse
  • how incredible a decent amber ale can taste after 6 months of drinking water pilsners

1 comment:

Daniel said...

enlightening. thanks.