I feel ashamed..
This morning I published a post about how cosy my weekend was, because hurricane Matthew impacted our weather and I like stormy weather.. (makes me want to put on Billie Holiday and listen to her likewise called song).
That was very ignorant of me.
After I published that post, I took the bus to La Boquilla. The neighborhood where I teach English. It’s a relative poor neighborhood. In many parts of the ‘barrio’ there are no concrete roads, the beach is one of the main roads to get to the end of the barrio, and the streets over there are an extension of the beach. At the end of the beach (close to the school) there’s this point where the beach separates the sea from the ‘lough’ (salty lake) behind it.
Well today, the beach was halved, some restaurants on the beach were partly or totally destroyed, the streets behind the beach were flooded, and the sea and the lake were one.. I couldn’t reach the school because the bus couldn’t drive to the end of the barrio as the sea was reunited with the lake. So I started walking along the beach.. as far as I could up until it got harder and harder to find a ‘dry’ spot to cross the water. After talking with the mother of one of the school kids, who informed me that reaching the school would be very difficult, I checked with my colleague whether the kids even could reach the school, and if there would be classes. And she told me it was crazy there. If you don’t have boots you cannot cross the road.. As I was wearing jeans and ankle boots, I returned homewards after a long beach walk, while overthinking the situation..
So yes, I had a cosy weekend.. up in my tower.. high and dry.. while a lot of Cartageneros were holding there houses together, hoping the stormy weather would quickly pass so it wouldn’t cause more damage than it had already done. Moreover, they had to go and vote whether they approve or disapprove the peace treaty that was signed last week. And guess what.. 50,23 percentage of the Colombians that voted (it wasn’t mandatory), voted NO. I was disappointed, and I only live here for 5 months. Imagine the disappointment of the 49,76 percentage that voted SI.
So not only did many Colombians started of the week with a huge clean of their houses and streets but also with the bitter pill of the voting results.. And here I am, writing that I had a cosy weekend.. shame on me.
To keep it short (ha, not), I just want to say that it’s easy to stay in our Ivory tower and live the luxurious expat life. It would be easy. And a lot of people do so. You can perfectly live in or visit Cartagena without really noticing the problems that live in the city.. the poverty, the violence, the drugs, the prostitution, the inequality.. Because you’re walking around with one eye open, looking at the beauty and charms of this city, and with the other eye closed for the ugly parts. And though I too sometimes do that, like many tourists and many Colombians as well, this doesn’t mean I don’t care about what’s happening in Colombia. And that’s why I love doing voluntary work.. Not to clean my soul.. But to be aware of what happens here.. right in front of me.. Every time I take that bus to the school, my feet are pulled back to the ground. And although it makes me very sad, and feel powerless, even loose trust, it also makes me value my own life and think about my role and the power I do have in this small life of mine. And this is necessary. But not all day, every day. After all, you cannot be sad about the worlds’ problems 24h a day, 7/7, and the Colombians know that as well. That’s why they are masters in putting aside the problems for a moment and just go crazy for the great things that happen in live, like winning a stage in the Tour de France or a football game in the America cup (Seriously, if you can ever join a Colombian football game, do so, it’s amazing how enthusiastic they are), and then holding on to the joy it brings to them. I really admire that, and think that we (Belgians/Europeans) should also do that more often..
Well, this is my opinion.. And if any Colombian is reading this.. I do think about you guys and feel with you (as much as I’m capable of).
Have a happy, conscious week!