There are major protests in Bogota today against the government, which I am told happen periodically. Everybody is afraid to go into the city because these protests sometimes turn violent. People worry about bombs although they haven’t had a bomb go off in Bogota in over two years (My parents are probably not very comforted by this.)
Living in this tranquil town, with all the physical beauty around us and the friendly people, it’s easy to forget that there is still a war going on in many parts of this country. This drug-money fueled war between the government and the leftist guerillas and the paramilitary forces has been largely pushed off into the countryside. Big cities and major tourist destinations are fairly safe these days. My mom just told me that Apple Vacations now does charter trips to Cartagena.
Things often feel so tranquil here that it’s often easy to forget that most people have lived with violence or with the threat of violence and this has of course impacted how they view life. A neighbor today told me that she gets very nervous when there are major protests. She remembers being twelve years old in the late 80’s and living across the street from some government buildings. Pablo Escobar’s men detonated a bomb trying to kill some public official but instead killed many civilians. Since this neighbor’s childhood home was right across the street from where the bomb went off, she remembers the loud sound and the feeling of the entire building shaking before the windows exploded and shards of glass few everywhere, hitting her in the head. Wow, what do you say to something like that?
Then I talk to another neighbor and hear another horror story of a neighbor’s nanny of four years who was like a part of the family until they found out earlier this week that she was abusing/torturing the children (slamming their fingers with drawers and doors, pricking their fingers with needles). Holy crap! I just listen to these stories and try to breathe deeply while looking at the beautiful scenery, willing the scenery to cleanse my soul.