Recientemente vi cómo una de esas inscripciones odiosas estaba pegada a tu pared. Era de alguna curadora o curador urbano, que autorizaban demoler el restaurante que a penas a unas cuadras de la Clínica David Restrepo, me vio nacer. No hay mucho por decirle a un bogotano del oriente acerca de por qué eres importante. Llevas en tus entrañas uno de los asesinatos más despiadados de la ciudad, todo porque un exmilitante de Vietman permitió que emergiera la personalidad de combatiente. En mi caso, más que una carnicería, eras el espacio desde el que vi los grados de todos mis primos. En medio de lámparas y papeles de pared bastante pasados de moda, me deslizaba entre las piernas de mis tías a quitarles los zapatos. Qué decir. Me siento viejo, siento que me arrebatan la ciudad, que el tiempo me pasa por encima y que extraño el pasado. Afortunadamente aún hay historias en las calles, yo simplemente seré la memoria.
I was in Barrancabermeja a small Colombian city, in a cheap hotel analyzing my life. I observed it as a film of failures and of cours, I ruminated about unkind comparison. My friends have always been going through the best universities in the world while I reduce to small rooms full of pale lights.
My daily experiences are just related with my professional life as auditor. I mean: Travelling day after day along the ugly country (Colombia). Waking up at 4:30 AM and sleeping at 12:00 at midnight. My anxiety has increased and my desire to keep studying is vanishing. I wanted to change the world and it finally has changed me.
One day I rembered two friends who participated in an ONG dedicated to empower young people around Climate Change. Around this topic I have been biased by teachers who stated openly that developing nations should worry about basic needs instead of low carbon development or sustainability. How wrong they were. My view changed when I helped the coordinator of climate change to diffuse the scientific products of global change in Colombia. I realized how important adaptation was to diminish financial and human catastrophes.
Therefore, I decided to write to an open message in Facebook that invited to participate in a Global Summit in Austria. I was chosen. I was in the middle of nowhere watching reptiles and dirty rivers when I opened my gmail an realized I had been lucky.
I asked for permission in my job. It was incredible it was provided. I tried to buy a ticket but it was impossible by debit card. I asked my father for help and he did. Saturday night arriving to Bogotá, in a lonely and dark room of United Airlines I was told my reservation had been cancelled. I got astonished. The story is long. Afterwards, my father bought a wrong ticket and I got by myself one in American Airlines.
I run through Miami and London airports in order to get my connection. I tolerated angry people in Florida and racist people in Austrian airport but I did it. I arrived. Men were cute, they looked kind but quite shy. Toilets did not have trash cans and they had a system I had not seen before “antisplash”.
I was told by my father to take a car that never presented in the airport; hence, I took the most expensive taxi I have taken in my life: 50 Euros. A Turkish man drove and barely understood what I asked. He told me that there were hundreds of thousands of Turkish people in Vienna. He also spoke about the visit of Vladimir Putin that forced us to take different roads to the flat where I was going to stay.
I rang the bell and a boy named B from Nepal opened the door. I went upstairs in an ancient building and when he tried to open the door he realized he had left the keys inside. I wondered: How are the doors like in South East Asia?
I learnt to take the subway in 10 minutes due to the gentleness of Austrian souls. One woman taught me to buy a ticket and another one (a Jehova witness) provided me instructions to arrive to the summit: “You go to Schottentor station and then you take the 40A bus”. She spoke about god, about Jesus, about the heart and the human beings. To be honest I was bored and I believe B too.
We arrived to the place and E laughed when she heard my story. In an uncounscious act of trust I left my bag in front of her door and traveled across the city to find the key. We run again back and tasted the relief of resting after a 24 hours trip.
We met with A, the director of the group. A kind French woman pursuing to consolidate a stronger movement. She told us the rules associated to the house, about the tidiness and the requirements to wash clothes. She came with M who had deep eyes and who randomnly came from Eugene, Oregon where Mike a man with whom I had a virtual relationship lived then. He told me he had heard about him and asked where we had met. I tried to answer but a conversation between our friends emerged.
Workshops about fund raising, conferences where teachers, experts and young representatives participated. All so pleasant but quite exhausting because I woke up every day too early and the schedule included panels until nine o’ clock in the evening.
E cooked in a motherly way the breakfast. Raspberries, blueberries, tea, bread and jam. Everything tasted delicious. Vienna looked like a fantasy world in the mornings when no one walked the streets and I run and crossed the green Danube.
I do not know if European did not like me or perhaps they tend to be more closed with their feelings. May be I am too anxious and I get quite uncomfortable with my dark jokes and my persistent conversations. Overmore I am gay I have a pheminized side that may dislike straight guys.
Days passed and my exhaustion increased. I run through Stephanplatz, I knew a gay caffe near Museumquartier where nobody spoke to me. I met an Arabian man who confessed he never had had a couple. I watched very near the artworks by Egon Schielle and I run conference after conference.
Author: Egon Schielle
A, M, J, Je and I spoke in fron of the Danube about life: “How would you be if you had what is lacking to you?”. I did not hear the answer of M. I would have liked. I do not remember what I answered. The sky was clear, the stars shining shyly and the river moving softly.
M left the next day. He went to Munich to take a flight. The group went together to the subway. M, N, S and I danced in one station typical French music. It was fun. I felt I was missing these lovely people I have just met.
I returned safely withou any issue. There were so many spiritual and lovely experiences that I can not contain in just one post. My last night was in Vienna Opera House with E. I met the heart of the Austro Hungarian empire. My soul pursued freedom.
Lately, I have felt I can not breathe easily. May be because I have many emotions that I can not control. Or perhaps because something is happening inside me that feels like a gigant river that never stops flowing.
Many times I have heard about yagé. It has been classified by some chamanes like a medicine for soul. However, beyond magic poetry I think it is convenient stating that it may be dangerous; in fact, some people have died after drinking it. After a ritual, two people passed away in Floridablanca, Santander.
How did I decide to drink? These days my job has become very demandant. I have been surrounded by collegues with heavy energy and sadness. My mother is overcoming from the death of her mother. And I am trying to assimilate that I have not been offered a single scholarship in the universities I dreamed of stuying.
After going to a psychologist he said me directly that I was very mind centred. That implied that sometimes I avoided communicating with my emotions. According to him, I would stop being a lonely person and would become a leader if I also developed my heart. The truth is that I am so tired of my negative emotions that focusing on them takes a lot of energy from me. I feel my future is misty and hopeless… I see darkness each time I walk on the streets.
After my negative cumulation of negative experiences, I understood I required something stronger than my mind to be succesful in getting the freedom of my soul; therefore, I searched in Facebook ayahuasca rituals in Bogotá city and fortunately I found one very close where I live.
In a park in the east of the city I met Mauricio and Leo, two charming guys who explained me about the ritual. I was scared, sometimes insecurity makes think that everything is a hoax. Considering that I had contacted the group by Facebook I was not sure if it was a real event.
Once in the Maloka, I could note it was crowded. There was fire in the center, some seats and a lot of people on the soil. It was extremely cold and th fact that an elder beside me who could not stop moving, made everything more difficult. The space was reduced and people did not stop speaking which made me feel anxious because I wanted to drink the drug as soon as possible.
After and introduction by the “tahita” musicians started playing and the chamán started to pray in front of some catholic shapes. Once in front of the man, a small cup of a bitter and fresh beverage was offered. I told him it was my first time. He told me into 1 and a half hour we could drink again.
I did not feel anything. In the second drink I started to feel different. First of all I percieved intensely my body. Then, I started to hear an acute sound and my senses developed to unimaginable limits. I felt fear when I watched people. I wanted to scream. Theirs faces seemed like dark executioners from the middle age.
My feelings evolved from fear to extreme sensitivity respect my skin. I touched my face, my eyes and my hands. I started to feel suffocated, bounded by the environment. My lower lip felt heavy and I imagined I had a reptile like skin. I said “I need to breathe” as if an ancient being was pronouncing those words.
When closed my eyes I watched many designs of abstract birds and reptiles. When I neared to touch my eyes, physical sensations translated into fast and colourful designs. When I neared my hands to my eyelids and felt that cold and soft skin, I saw some newborn dinosaurs, reptiles or may be intermediate beings between birds and reptiles.
I felt I needed to breathe but I could not. I opened my mounth and I felt relieved. I thought about the fisher men that were my ancestors. I shared their sadness and said to myself: “poor men who needed to drug each night to avoid their sadness and tiredness from heavy work and multiple children”. Once I tried to free from the invisible chains that blocked me and I watched my fingers and smiled, they were like liberty.
When I was near to touch my eyes I was expecting to find three united bird’s eyes. But when I felt my left eye I felt a human one. Afterwards, I felt inside a womb and I saw a dinosaur or reptile spine of a fetus. I felt the anxiety of suffocation. I felt my mother’s suffering. And I was crying. I felt I had the mission to free her and I understood I had not achieved it. I thought that I was my mother’s mother: Always protecting her. And I said that I could not keep fighting for her happyness. It was time to fight for my freedom.
I spoke to my deceased grand mother and I just asked her to tell me if she was alright. I changed my posture from lying to sat. I vomited the bitter substance full of my saliva and I slept.
Music: Ludovico Einaudi, I Giorni.
My job demands a lot of time from me. I usually go to the places I audit and in the night I continue writing. It also implies travelling in my country that against the perception of other Colombian people, I find them alike, poor, untidy and undeveloped; however, secretly, I recognyze a charm that goes beyond foklore and cliche.
I had to go to Barranquilla, located near the Atlantic sea. Previously, I had known two Caribbean cities (Cartagena and Santa Marta) but I had never gone to Barranquilla. The references I had about it came from collegues and childhood friends. But, it is common to love hometown in spite of its drawbacks. I procure not to trust in biased opinions.
I arrived to a typical intermediate Colombian city. It was hot, humid and the sun bright intense. The buldings looked like a trip to the 70’s, full of large structures, cement and sometimes small windows. The trash was on the street and getting to a can to dispose wastes was very difficult.
This city is popular because of its lack of storm drain which causes floods and streams that affects indrastructure, people and cars. Actually, it was the first warning my dad and a friend of mine did when I told them where I was going. Hopefully, days were sunny and I did not have to protect from the strong power of water.
I have collegue that is quite rude and sometimes is so easygoing that accepts some details from the places we audit. This time he decided to accept a car offered by the legal representative of the laboratory. I felt uncomfortable, I belived we were going to rent one. But I am so serious and percieved as unsympathetic that I decided to stay quiet. We went to El Rodadero, near Santa Marta and from there to Tanganga.
It was an advantage to go with a marine biologist. He knew where and with whom to dive. I had a recieved a small course and after that I descended really nervous to the deep of the sea (well, just 14 meters to be honest). At the beginning I had earache and I got desperate because I did not know how to control my body. The instructor was patient and took my hand and helped me to descend.
I tried to repress my breathing process but finally my mind understood I had a tank full of oxygen on my back. We did not descend too much but we saw trumpetfishs and morais. While I advanced I controled my body and my fear disappeared. The marine landscape was full of corals, white sand and little fishes.
Afterwards, we met another group (more advanced) and we descended to 14 meters. I was able to control my body, to breathe better and to keep my ears aware of pressure. We felt a marine stream and a constat high tone noise during some minutes. I felt meditating, free and happy in spite of my failures, worries and sadness.
I learnt that when in front of troubles, desperation is the worst adviser. You need to think, take distance, analyze in seconds and take a decision. I returned loving even more the ocean.
Song of the airplane: All the Small Things – Blink 182
Unfortunately, I am part of the group of people who do not know a great amount of National Natural Parks. Hopefully, I have developed consciousness about the need to know better this country in order to take decisions based on local reality.
After arguing with my family and getting very stressed I decided in the last minute to join to a trip to El Cocuy. It is located in Boyacá, a department of Colombia. From Bogotá, the capital city I spent around 8 hours. I woke up very early and I was lucky because some of my mates told me they spent around 10 hours.
I arrived to the town El Cocuy. I percieved it very religious. There was a procession of holly week that consists of people wearing special clothes in charge to transport shapes of saints and walk around the place. They are very popular in southern cities like Popayán. In the case of Cocuy, the event is smaller but I could the great respect people showed. Actually, I watched elders following it and policemen escorting it.
The sexy guys in the reception decided to give me an individual room. The rest of people slept in two collective rooms. The second day we took a walk in order to adapt the body to the height. People who try to arrive to the top of Cocuy mountains should be aware that body is suffering pressure because of the sudden change of conditions. Actually, some of the glaciers are over 4000 m over the sea.
After arriving to Cocuy (the town) a bus took us to a place near the refuge where I would spend the following nights. The first thing that I noted was a group of bugs beetle like of a steel blue colour. We walked some hours between the fog, the frailejones, the humid environment and the sensation to be leaving my daily life.
It is common to stop and eat food because of the long journeys. I wanted to speak with myself so I got far from the group and watched the horizon. A bird flew through the pale green and the guide told us it was an eagle. It was beautiful.
I was warned about the lack of vegetarian food in the place where we stayed. So I went with the guide to Cocuy in his car to buy some vegetables and some salty food. I have percieved people in Colombia do not love cooking vegetables and the common menú is full of meat, poultry and dead bodies. A German girl who went with us, was curious about “semana santa”. She believed it was a moment to be with family. In fact, I was escaping from mine.
Sky will always be special. In Cocuy there is a local indigenous community named Uwa. They are owners of an important part of the park. For them, the ice on the top of the mountains is heaven. In Spanish, heaven and sky are the same Word. And I felt my sadness was being healed by the rays that trespassed the clouds.
Afterwall, at a considerable height and without any house near, in the refuge there was a vegetarian option. It is funny in some of the streets of Bogotá is impossible to find any option but in the middle of nowhere I found delicious dishes. The view was awsome some of the top of the mountains were visible when the sky cleared up.
I started to feel physical effort when I journey to Ritacuba started. The guys in front of me had some physical conditions very favouable and I felt years have left their mark on me. I tried to walk slowly. I just packed one jacket for 3 days. It was an act of ignorance. Sometimes it rains, there may be some sludge and people are always sweating.
I felt so tired during the hike (and I never look cool in photos). The group stopped to have lunch. Some were exhausted. Some people decided to keep walking until the glacier. I am insane and I decided to go with them. It started to rain. While increasing height vegetation diminished and smooth rocks threatened each step to become an embarrasing fall. Once on the top everything had sense. All the books I read by García Márquez that described the ice in the tropical climates.
In spite of the room mate I had I could sleep very well. I am sorry to be honest but she was so untidy and selfish that it was difficult for me to be with her. She used to put her clothes over de ladder between beds and I was on the superior one. Everything was full of her clothes and cleaning devices. It made difficult to move at early morning.
The next day scheduled to go to “El Púlpito del Diablo” I felt full of energy. I was really tired after walking hours but the climate was more comfortable. A beautiful day with sun rays and a blue sky welcomed me.
The road was like the day before but rocks in the heights were sharper. I had to develop my spiderman’s skills and move wisely. After walking kilometers there were still frailejones. I was impressed to find vegetation in such conditions. Life is always fighting against death.
Finally I got to the “Púlpito del Diablo”. Sensation was like accomplishing a difficult promise. After that we returned to the town El Cocuy. I recommend buying bus tickets to return from the first day, they are sold out very soon. There are really nice anoraks very cheap in the town (10 US approx). I returned in an exhausting trip to my complex reality.
Here I am, writing in a language hated all my childhood and loved the rest of my life. I have tried to avoid writing about myself but I have found it like a useful excercise to improve my English writing skills.
This is me, Iván. A man who walks Bogotá streets trying to fulfil the empty spaces left by other people so linked to their goals.
I started to think seriously about migrating to Canada, in fact, I accomplish all the requirements but my IELTS is not useful because it is acamedic (How dare they? Academic is much more elegant and difficult than general). Also, I need more money to do it.
After arguing with my parents and after overcoming from a depression, I realized I need to know who I am. I also need to do a master in science and breathe… Mainly breathe. That is why I decided to leave.
A veces me causan atracción los objetos de las personas que han fallecido, porque suelo pensar que tocándolos o usándolos puedo tener un poco de quienes se han marchado. Debo aclarar que no siempre usé lentes. Comencé a utilizarlos cuando comencé a leer. No sé si tenga que ver lo uno con lo otro. Si leer mucho y con iluminación adecuada, sea un problema para la visión. Particularmente, me causa curiosidad, pensar que cuando yo me vaya de este mundo, alguien va a usar mis lentes, intentando ver el mundo con mis ojos.
Considero que un blog se parece a esa visión que tengo de los lentes de los muertos. Es intentar ver a través de los ojos de alguien más. Hecho que puede resultar a veces tedioso, en otras excitante.
De la manera más humilde, le doy la bienvenida al lector. Y le pido que sea condescendiente conmigo porque cuando escribo, lo hago sin armadura.
Música de Cafetería: 1901, Phoenix.