Friday, May 23, 2008

Gone Studyin'

I know the Bonderman specifies that recipients are prohibited from conducting research on their travels, but being in a country as complex as Colombia, and also being fortunate enough to be taken in by human rights lawyer who lives in a virtual archive of knowledge, one can't help but crack open a book.

I spend most of my day studying, reading anything from poetry to books on fruit. After learning the invaluable importance of language, I've also been attempting to teach myself Portuguese to prepare for my eventual arrival to Brazil. And of course I've been catching up on Colombian history.

Knowing the history of a country completely changes your perspective on it. It explains the racial makeup, the structure of social classes, explains why people are the way they are.

I'm currently reading "More Terrible Than Death" by Robin Kirk, a well-written account of a human rights worker's decade long sojourn exploring the development of contemporary Colombia; though the title should not be confused as to how I have been living, which has been in the nicest apartment I've ever seen, let alone stay in (and yes, that includes the US too).

I've had access to any tea I could fathom, a pristine kitchen that has re-energized my old passion for cooking, and an indoor hammock (which really doesn't need further explanation). But that doesn't mean tranquility is permanent. Like most circumstances in the world, things could change in an instant. The bombings that resulted from the after-effects of internal conflicts between government armies, drug cartels and guerrilla factions could still find their way to Bogotá as they did in the past. Nothing in life is guaranteed. Strange how we too often forget that.

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