In honour of World Humanitarian Day, I’m sharing ten lessons that I have learnt from my Latin American colleagues, some of the best humanitarians I know. 1. Listen with your entire body. This includes things like greetings, expressing appreciation, and dressing well. I remind myself that I am an invited guest and my task is to
My favourite sign in the botanical gardens in Bogota is about the potato. “After [insert six countries here], Colombia is the number one producer of potatoes in the world,” the sign proudly proclaims. While in Colombia, I have been to the highest vineyard in the world, the largest coastal desert mountain, the prettiest town in
I tell lies in taxis all the time. Instead of trying to explain that yes, a single Canadian woman is living and working alone, it is simpler to nod along to the assumption that I am happily married I knew things would be different, however, within three minutes of getting in a recent cab. Instead
The mood in the Bogota plaza was more sombre than excited during the ceremony marking the FARC’s final disarmament. There were a few balloons, flags, and the vegetable mandala folks, but everything felt muted in the face of uncertainty. Recent judicial decisions have challenged the government’s ability to rapidly implement the accords. Social leaders continue
My sister came to take me from Victoria to her home up island. Before we left, we had to make a slight detour, she told me. We needed to pick up some pigs for her farm. Yet even as Bonnie informed me our plans, she looked dubious. I would have to help with loading, and
Going to jail is harrowingly boring. The evening before my friend Larisa goes to visit Jorge, I accompany her as she checks off the visiting requirements. Everything must be perfectly contained to get inside. We buy toilet paper, laundry soap, and fried chicken to pack into a transparent plastic container no bigger than four litres.
International Worker’s Day, or May Day, is a national holiday in Colombia. Across the country, workers and unions march to celebrate workers’ rights, and the long struggle of workers all over the world for dignified working conditions, especially in the late 19th century: “Eight hours to work, eight hours to sleep, eight hours for what
I made yogurt yesterday. I didn’t feel like I had much of a choice. After a Monday long with meetings and trying to both write and speak coherent sentences, I was done with living in my head. Instead, I boiled milk, let it cool, added a starter, and put it on top of the fridge to ferment. This morning, I woke up to a thermos full of creamy yogurt, the most productive thing I have accomplished in weeks.
My post-accord Bogota feels pretty much the same as pre-peace accord Bogota. My neighbours all go about their daily routines- grocery store, walk the dog, go to work- and so do I. When I have a conversation with a friend in public, even in English, we still instinctively lean in closer, lower our voices, and
“For being a foreigner, Ashima is beginning to realize, is a sort of lifelong pregnancy- a perpetual wait, a constant burden, a continuous feeling out of sorts. It is an ongoing responsibility, a parenthesis in what has once been ordinary life, only to discover that that previous life has vanished, replaced by something more complicated