I guess I have been pretty tough on Colombians the past couple of days due to the alarm situation. I really shouldn’t let one bad apple spoil everything. People here have actually been warm and extremely polite and welcoming. And there are so many things I love about Colombia – the warmth of the people, the beauty of the mountains, country life, the fruit juices, the amazing fruits, the empanadas, horseback riding for the kids, the help (I have to be honest, life is so much easier with a nanny and a maid). Most of all, I just love the newness of it all. I love that every day feels like an adventure, even dealing with the alarm situation is an adventure (OK, I will get off this topic, I promise). I actually can’t imagine going back to the States next summer.
On a different note, I went on an amazing hike with our nanny’s sister yesterday. It was a two hour hike past colorful fincas, grazing animals, verdant fields up into the mountains to a beautiful mountain church. From the church we could see all of Chia spread out before us. It was so gorgeous and tranquil.
Initially, I was a little nervous about going on the hike due to safety issues. Our nanny’s sister assured me that it was safe and that she does this every single day. She told me that alot of people hike, run or mountain bike on this trail and that there is alot of police there. Esteban, on the other hand, said “well, it seems safe but a group of foreigners just got robbed and beaten up on another trail. And you are two women alone. Most likely it will be OK, but if you were to get raped or hurt, it would seem like a silly thing to do in retrospect.” OK, I know my husband is the cautious, practical one but I just couldn’t resist going on a beautiful hike and it seemed like as safe of a trail as I am going to have here in Colombia.
Well, we only saw ten people in total during our two-hour hike and we only saw police officers three times. Alejandra mentioned that there is so much police presence because three women were raped at some point and one of them was a foreigner. The foreigner’s embassy made such a big fuss about it that the government stepped up police presence. This news wasn’t all that reassuring and I didn’t think that seeing police three times in two hours was all that much but we were almost done with he hike at that point. Plus the energy of the nature was so amazing and powerful that it was hard to believe that anything bad could happen (do I sound like a naive gringa or what?). But seriously, Alejandra does this hike seven days a week for years and nothing has ever happened. She invited me to join the group she usually goes with earlier in the morning and I think I am going to try it out.
I also really enjoyed our talk during the hike. AOur nanny’s sister is a big extrovert like me and we didn’t stop talking for two hours. She is very socially conscious, raised by a mother who was very progressive for her time. She filled me in on alot of the social injustice in Colombia that really concerns her — domestic violence, violence against kids, poor treatment of animals just to name a few. By the time we were done with our conversation, I really wanted to do something to help. For instance, she told me that in the elementary school right across the street from our conjunto (right next door to the Waldorf school), there are many children who can’t afford lunch. they literally sit there hungry while other children eat. And apparently it only costs about $4.50 per month (!!!!) to buy lunch for a child. But some families just don’t have this. So our nanny’s sister is thinking of talking to the school officials and coming up with a program of getting wealthier families in Chia to sponsor a child, to basically to pay for their lunch. I told her that I would be happy to sponsor quite a few and also to help her set up this program in any way that I can. This country has so much beauty to offer and also so much pain everywhere you look (like our housekeeper but more on that later). I would love to get involved and help.