Colombia Now, Our 7th Anniversary, & the Phillies Bullpen
“Some of the people you’re about to talk to have done some really brutal things.” I was given the heads up.
To be honest, I’m still torn and unsure about how to talk about some of the firsthand accounts of Colombia’s conflict era. Relaying the horror is an important part of the story, one that can easily teeter into sensationalism.
I guess the easiest thing for me to describe are my own reactions while listening. I was both intimidated by the past actions described by former combatants and impressed with the openness with which they were sharing everything.
“Our goal is to become part of the community again,” we heard. “But that will be a long process and we are only at the beginning. We are still trying to be able to be seen out and around.”
They may be at an early part of a journey that will take years and years, but they’re taking those first steps.
Truth and reconciliation amazes me. It’s because I’m drawn to visions that seem almost impossible. Almost.
How do you repair a community that was broken by conflict and violence? How does a widow sit down with her spouse’s killer? How does everyone involved move past the trauma?
The thing is- it happens. The most famous example might be the Desmond Tutu-led Truth and Reconciliation commission in South Africa right after apartheid. In Rwanda lately, there have been mind blowing stories of people who were on opposite sides of genocide now meeting face to face to move forward. Similar processes exist in Nepal, Argentina, Sri Lanka, and dozens of other countries.
In Colombia, former fighters meet with facilitators to discuss their past and future. It starts with truth. Perpetrators open up about the terrible things they’ve done. Remembering matters too. They dream up a center for historical memory. The process of reconciliation is still daunting, but it isn’t impossible.
This process means everything to me, and it’s a reminder of the fact that the daunting things in this world aren’t that impossible. It’s a reminder that the world’s worst horrors right now have a chance at a different tomorrow.
What does the future look like for Viotá, and for Colombia at large? It’s a work in progress. This moment of peace is still young and fragile, but there are some incredible everyday heroes working to make sure it looks worlds different from the recent past.
This is Rosita. She owns the hacienda where we stayed. An old coffee plantations and the site of exploitative labor is now locally owned and a place for reconciliation. She and her son host visitors and spread awareness of coffee’s darker history.
She’s not alone. I met people focused on using ecotourism to draw visitors. Some promote nature walks and waterfall swims and others use mindfulness retreats. Others will promote the petroglyphs and archeological finds. Some are baristas and others work with locals and young people to create new income sources, from artisan doll making to beekeeping and honey. More are focused on psychotherapy and rehabilitating former combatants and others want to make a historical memory center.
The way forward isn’t singular. There are many. There are as many as there are people who have no desire to return to the ways of the past. They are ambitious and creative and dedicated. They are part of Colombia’s fuller story.
Food and travel are the one-two punch of things that make me happy, but it’s gotta be all about human connection.
The most memorable meals I’ve had while visiting other places all have that in common. They’re either around a table with a great group, or in the home of somebody local who opened up their place with generosity.
Maria Isabel invited us over. She was a victim of the war and wanted to share her stories. Even more so, she wanted to share her food and crafts. She brought out a plate full of handmade taro cakes, chips that resembled a slim fried and chopped eggplant, and a cherimoya milkshake that was one of the most refreshing things I’ve drank.
Most of all, knowing that she made these snacks with pride, with produce she planted and grew herself was incredible. The whole plate had the flavor of generosity. It’s hard to appreciate a meal any more than that.
It’s not everyday that you get welcomed in like that. By somebody who hasn’t always had an easy life but who wants to share it with you. You can’t manufacture a moment like that either. All you can do is learn to recognize it and appreciate it while it’s in front of you. Then express gratitude however you can, a hundred times over.
THE PHILLIES BULLPEN
Root rooting for the road team ever since I left Philly a whole lifetime ago.
A little weeknight baseball for the two of us, cause I always gotta catch at least one game of the Phillies series whenever they’re in San Diego. We spent most of it right up by the Phils’ bullpen and I got to get these pics of an endangered species: Phillies relievers.
I don’t post a ton of my baseball takes here. I save that for Twitter. So I’ll keep it at all this: I’m proud of this team’s resilience and being able to bounce back with a neat little win streak after a terrible stretch of losing McCutchen and every reliever to injuries. Second best record in the NL and the three most important players- Harper, Hoskins, and Nola have yet to fully catch fire the way they can. Once they get rolling, things should be real fun.
Seven years ago, I took her out on our first date and I haven’t had a first date since then! So many good things came out of an inkling that one of my best friendships still had room to grow into something bigger.
This year has been absolutely eventful, so it’s pretty fitting that our seventh dating anniversary didn’t involve much sitting still. Boxing, cleaning the house, packing, meeting the dog sitter, then hopping on a plane.
Finally got a little chance to breathe during our layover at LAX.
I love you, Deanna and every step of the adventure. Now let’s go take Wyoming by storm!