I’m getting ready to board a flight to go to the City of Santiago de Cali, which is approximately 300 km south-west of Bogota. I’ll be touring schools in that city for a week before returning back to Bogota to finish up with a final week of schools there.
I’ve been in Colombia for a little over two weeks now and my love for the land is continuing to grow exponentially. I don’t want anyone to think that I lack a grasp on reality or that I’m unable to discern the social/political issues that plague “all” societies. I am more than capable but, you see, I spend the majority of my time with the average man and woman, not politicians or captains of industry. I think the perceptions you gain from visiting other lands has a lot to do with what you bring with you, your mindset.
There is a story I love to tell that involves two men traveling towards each other’s respective locations of origin. The two men never meet but, somewhere in an oasis in the desert each encounters a wise old man whom they question as to the type of people they will encounter in the land that they are traveling to. One travel is bitter and filled with angst and says that the people he left behind were ignorant, liars and thieves of the worst kind. The other traveler’s disposition is much brighter and he is believes the people he left behind were the kindest, gentlest souls. The old man tells them, individually as they encounter him at separate times, that they will discover the same type of personalities in the land that they are traveling to. A bystander happened to overhear each of the conversations of the old man and the travelers and inquires why he would dispense such contradictory advice. The old man explains that every man encounters, no matter where he travels, the substance of his own heart.
I would like to think that my encounters with the people of Colombia that I’ve met have something to do with my respect and appreciation for the cultures of others. I would like to think that.
One of the huge contrasts that I can draw between my work here in Colombia and my work back in the U.S. is that; when I complete a performance or workshop in the U.S., that is it, it is ended. The participants usually have their own lives to return to and their own busyness that keeps them occupied. Here in Bogota, when I finish at a school or workshop, the participants desire to extend the relationship to one of greater depth. I am getting invitations to dinner from children’s parents, offers to hang out, as well as offers to be driven around Bogota and the outlying areas so that I may see more of the land and people. People offering to cook traditional meals and cab drivers buying me lunch have been a few encounters that I will not soon forget. Can you imagine a New York cabbie offering to buy you lunch in welcoming you to New York?
Let me get back to the issue of reality and perception. Have I encountered idiots? Yes! They are ubiquitous in this world and no one society or culture has cornered the market on having them. Let me ask you a question. If I cross the paths of two idiots out of one hundred people then why would I spend time writing to you all about the idiots?
I’m finishing up a wonderful piece of fruit called a “Granadilla” as I type this. Just the vast array of fruits alone was worth the trip. Colombia should be famous for it’s’ fruit more than anything else. Although I am missing being back home, I am savoring every second of this experience. I know that I will miss the people who’ve embraced me with open hearts and open minds.
Well, let me get to my flight. I appreciate the messages and feedback that I’m getting from some of you. It helps me feel still connected to home.
Adios mis amigos!