Sunday, September 27, 2009

Mini culture shocks

I recently returned from my second visit to the Peace Community after officially having left in June. My first visit, at the end of August, was a quick two-day thing with the delegation I was leading, so there was little time for hanging out or reflecting. This last visit, however, was a tad longer and less frenzied.

With that extra bit of reflection and personal space, I realized that I was experiencing a bit of double-reverse culture shock. As I described when I first arrived in Bogotá, I had a hard time adjusting to the big, bad city after a year in the deep campo (to which, of course, I had had to adjust when I arrived there in June of last year). Going back last week, even for just five days, was bit of a shock to the system, as was turning quickly around and heading back to the city. Bursts of mini culture shocks, as it were.

Besides getting the hang again of properly adjusting a mosquito net and using the formal usted verb form, I was struck on my second day by how living outside of a direct conflict zone has dulled some of the senses I had honed while living in the Peace Community. That morning, as a helicopter flew extremely low over the village, folks ran out of their houses and kids out of their classrooms to follow its trajectory. Standing there watching with Community members, I was reminded of the close proximity of the conflict and the way that it is integrated into daily life there. Such a sense has slipped from my consciousness since being in Bogota. Seldom now do I even note the passing of a helicopter, though I have to admit that at times I do still catch myself looking out the window when one passes, trying to ascertain its route as we do while accompanying in the Community.

Now I'm back in Bogotá, and pretty relieved to be after two weeks of work travel. I guess the place must be growing on me...

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