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Field Notes: Colombia

An adventure in reconnection, renewal, & the Unknown.

I. We find our steps, again, in a lacunae ten thousand miles deep by seven years wide, but the same portal sun beckons there to the children of wolves. In the stillness now is not heaviness but a coarse patoi of courage, stumbling on tongue tips of burnt honey. Not an aimless idle, but an inner knowing that an invisible River never ceases, even in yearning, in restless drought, even where a sandbar erased the map.

Listen: Danza del Agua – Miki Gonzalez

Tayrona National Park, Magdalena // Caribbean coast
lagoon tatosunsetiguana

monkeyTNP TNP beach TNPsunsetII. We have learned how to look inside the hollow, rather than without, to find that it is not hollow at all but a prism bending this way and that, waiting to refract shivers of cerulean lemondrop dusk in late August if only these tendrils would shake the dirt and reach, just further. We fear the mirrorage and the apostrophe but we are learning to trust the rain.

Listen: Antenna – Bonobo

Minca, Magdalena // Sierra NevadasWATERFALL1 swimminghole mincastream

bamboo

hammockIII. Behind traded verse, Quetzalcoatl drums a memory of the future into resounding silence–that voice-echoing-open-armed emptiness waiting to be found and filled with breath amidst a fray of nation-sized wounds, festering traumas, the perfume of homeless sorrows mingling with diesel exhaust, swollen bellies, transcontinental bloodlines seeking a womb, self-sabotage, exile.

Listen: Montañita – Lulacruza

Minca y Nemocón, Cundinamarcamincasunbursyt

solitude

mincasunsetsaltminepurplesaltoftheearthminegreenIV. Hip to hip through jungles of monkey vine and slave-shaped stone, sabanna brush and virgen blessings, we walk and I burn blood from my cheeks. I see, now. My ghosts are not gone; they are dancing in the palm fronds but oh how I sway with them now, twirl my fingers through their hair, build miniature altars to honor the softened skin I wear from their bright bones.

Listen: Pools – Glass Animals

Suesca, Cundinamarca // Sábana de Bogotásuescatracks

suescacrag macksuesca2 tatosuesca macksuesca tatoclimbingnemeconV. Underground, underwater, under canopy, under flame four feet crisscross fallow fields with the mother tongue of coded dreams. Whether the planting is of peonies or cloud forest is not written; for now, the task is to lick salt from old wounds and trace their patterns with a firm hand. But in the scratch of bare shoulders to a thatched floor, in the red embers drawn to the breath of ocean in coastal darkness, there is a planet reflecting back the sunlight.

Listen: Burning Stars – Mimicking Birds

Bogotá y beyond
bogotamuralbogotasunsetplaneview

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Friday

Two days straight of report writing and not seeing the outside of my house, I finally got fully vertical this afternoon and went to traipse along the shore at Alki. It was a blissfully self-indulgent afternoon, filled with: one necessary cappucino and one unnecessary mint green tea chocolate chip cookie, seventeen photos of my surroundings and my self portrait smiling in said surroundings, three of which I boastfully uploaded to every social media account I own, one long stroll up and down the boardwalk with First Aid Kit and Glasser playing in my ears, twenty nine adorable toddlers and baby-types playing in the sand, countless über-hip moms, dogs and their owners and one hairy butt crack show from the overweight cyclist who could not find it in himself to buy the appropriate size spannies. And a partridge in a pear tree.

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ok, im awake now

I just had that moment hit me, finally. It took me two weeks of being here, it wasn’t until a few minutes ago while I was standing on the roof of our new guesthouse that I felt the full force of reality: I’m living in Afghanistan.

Since I landed, these past 14 days have been spent shuttling back and forth through traffic from my room to the office, stuck indoors and on the street level for about 99% of the time. I have seen parts of Kabul, but I haven’t actually seen Kabul. I haven’t seen the hills that surround the city, and I haven’t gaped at the mountains that surround the hills. Now I have, and I’m not sure I can even call them mountains. They’re so stunningly massive and stark behind the pollution that discolors from this distance, so impressive and imposing that I find it hard to believe them real. I’m almost hesitant to believe this is Earth, for a moment.

On the hills that rise up out of the city’s boundaries are patchwork blankets of Afghan homes, some painted easter eggs colors and others still shades of mud, wrapping the rocky surface with the patterns of human life, reaching all the way up to the peak where cell and TV towers are planted like flags claiming territory.

Down below the roof of our place, I can watch people coming and going; the neighbor is hanging laundry to dry, her son is running around in the garden, and I admire their trellised arbor that will hold blooming flowers over the walkway when spring arrives. On the other side, a tree is bursting with small, white blossoms that look like dogwood, and a house is painted the hue of lichen green that reminds me of R, because it seems like we were fixated on that color this past year. Two cats scream as one chases the other up a fence. Trucks lurch through the dust and mud, small boys loiter in the road, a man pushes a cart and calls through a megaphone to hawk his goods. The vegetable seller waves away flies from his tomatoes. The scurrying neon orange ants off to my right are construction laborers, working on a tall concrete complex, maybe a new apartment building or offices. Behind me, an old fortress stands on a grass covered hill where people go to fly kites.

I’d almost forgotten to think about the fact that these simple, beautiful facets of life are going on all around me, because frankly I’ve been rather blind to them until today. I hadn’t been able to take my first good look at Afghanistan until now, and I’m going to daringly say that I just fell a bit in love, if only yet for the rooftop view I have of this city and all its goings on. In my room now, typing this, my fingers and toes have gone back to freezing, the footsteps of others in the hallway echo like ghosts, and the 4 o clock sun coming in my window is kind but somber. I can’t wait for summer, even though I know I’ll eat those words once the 100-plus temperatures hit us. This house is beautiful and our staff is caring, but I think the roof is going to be seeing a lot of me.