Monday, August 29, 2016

Adios Colombia

Spending my last Colombian morning feeding muffin to deer and bonding with a toucan over our shared love of mango juice. Be vewy, vewy quiet, I am hunting oso perisoso....

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Taking sides

“We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
-Elie Wiesel, at his Nobel Prize acceptance speech.

"Courage is as contagious as fear."
-Suson Sontag

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Carta Moto

Riding around on a motorcycle taxi through the slowly-waking Cartagena.

With the placid Caribe on one side of me--with its gentle waves lapping against the shore as the fishermen cast their nets, and the old, walled Centro Antiguo with canons peering out on the other. Such trips are always journeys through memories.

 Like on the back of a boda-boda passing through the choked streets of Kampala or weaving in-and-out of the waves of Delhi traffic.

"Life loves those who love life." -Walt Disney

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Some shit I made up on NPR

"Everybody eats, which is what makes food a perfect choice to resolve conflicts and foster connections among nations. The concept is called "gastrodiplomacy," and South Korea is one of its strongest champions."

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Welcome to Next Level Colombia

A wonderful video introduction to Next Level Colombia by Petna Ndaliko Katondolo!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Sloth off the morning

Just your typical Cartagena morning, hugging a sloth and feeding a toucan while waiting for Next Level Team Colombia to arrive....

Saturday, August 06, 2016

The Rat's Mouth and the Jews

I made my way out in the warm sun for lunch at Naturalia Cafe.  I was excited to visit the vegetarian cafe not far from my apartment.  Colombians have wonderful vegetables, yet they simply don't really eat them.  It is much more meat and potatoes and arepas.  So I was excited to find this place.

I headed over with my ipad and Spanish grammar book to study off a bit of the afternoon.

The almuerzo del dia included soup, a plate and dessert, as well as juice for a modest 11k (less than $4).

I crushed pieces of rosemary toast into the carrot-almond (zanahoria-almendras) soup.  Pulverized the toast, really.  It tasted like something my grandfather would make, if he were a hippy vegetarian.

I sipped fresh pineapple-banana juice and surfed the web.

The plate came out, and it was beautiful.  Some kind of spiced chickpeas.  Roasted squash and zucchini in quinoa.  A delicious salad.  And there was a piece of some kind of flan for dessert.

 As I was eating, a large bee buzzed near a girl sitting nearby outside.  It kept buzzing close to her, and she got scared.  She ran into the restaurant, and eventually came back as she sat a bit closer to me.

She was a Colombian girl who had grown up in Florida.  She was a zoologist who was afraid of bees.

We got to talking as I ate.

She told me she was from Boca Raton.  Then she started complaining about the Jews.

The Jews are arrogant.  All they care about is power.

My eyes widened as she said this.  And she kept talking.  She kept talking about how awful the Jews were.

They are hostile and rude.  

I tried to not answer so I could go back to my meal in peace.  But she wouldn't shut up.

They only care about money.

I kept my mouth shut and stared at her, trying to keep my composure.  At some point, she looked at me long enough to realize that my face might be a bit Semitic.

Are you a Jew?

I am.

She tried to backtrack immediately.   I wasn't going to let her off that easy.

But I mean, I have no problem with you.  I am not racist.

I let her finish stammering, then I said to her: yes, what you said was just racist.

 You literally just said racist things to my face about the Jews, until you realized I was Jewish.

But, but...I meant Boca Raton, not all the Jews....

I slowly ate my flan and let her try to walk it back in awkwardness.

As I finished my flan, I said to her.  Can I give you some advice?

"You need a better filter.  You don't need to share with every stranger every thing that you think."

She tried to apologize more and I let her stammer on a bit further.  She kept trying to explain she wasn't racist.  I gave her a sideways glance and an incredulous smile.

I paid my check, leaving the cafe far sooner than I had planned.  As I left, I wished her buen provecho and said I hoped she had learned something.

Come mierda, I said under my breath as I turned and walked out.

And yet our story has an epilogue.  As I walked back in the afternoon sun, trying to fathom what I had just encountered, I crossed the busy Calle 44 into the shade of the banyan tree on Carrera 70.

As I walked down, I saw a Jew in a white Sephardic yarmulke sitting under the banyan tree.  He was sitting on the bench alone under the banyan tree, his tzitzit slowly fluttering in the wind.  He had payas coming down past his ears.

I looked him right in the eye.  I put my hand on my heart, and said to him:

Shabbat shalom.  Shabbat shalom.

Parabens Brazil!

I remember all the scare stories about the Brazil World Cup, which all disappeared as soon as the event started. I was in Brazil during the World Cup, and it was FINE.

Now, there have been loads of the pre-Olympic horror stories in the media about how unprepared, how dangerous, how Zika, how whatever the Olympics were going to be. Only to see it all dry up as the games get under way.

 Same bullshit for the World Cup in South Africa.

Shame on the international media for always pushing these contrived, faux horror stories of how X event is going to be a disaster, and then not a peep when everything goes off fine.

Congrats to Brazil for now launching two major international sporting events in 2 years. Parabéns!!

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Rolling Stone

Sometimes I feel like I’m falling
 Falling fast and falling free
She said "My darling you’re not falling,
Always looked like you were flying to me."


Irony is God's sense of humor


"That’s what twenty-first century feminism is about: the idea that when everybody is equal, we are all more free."
-President Barack Obama in Glamour

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

In Play

In two stirring bits of news, it looks like their may be a silver lining to the Donald.

It may be possible that Red Arizona and Red Utah could go Blue.

Bill carried Arizona in '96, the last Dem to do so.  I would camp him out there, Arkansas and Georgia and try to put a few other states in play.

Meanwhile, send VP Biden to blue-collar Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan.

And of course, Obama to his old political stomping grounds in liberal sections of the midwest and coasts.

My dream of dreams is that Hillary will win a massive electoral landslide, and the Dems take the Senate back and squeak to take the House.  Then a moderate bipartisan Clinton reaches across the divide to work with the rump moderate Republicans to actually make some political progress.