JOHN SAAVEDRA JR.
Student Voice Editor

At the end of Spring ‘12, things were looking up. I had a good semester. I had self-discovery. I was about to start a new internship. I was looking forward to the heat, to the constant whisper of New York City. Instead, I spent my summer in Colombia. These are some journal entries from the trip:

Random thought on mosquitoes: Mosquitoes are insatiable. Sometimes they drink so much blood that their little bodies pop. Sometimes I’m a mosquito.

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There was a man with a tumor in his stomach. It looked like a head sagging from his torso. He asked us for money in the middle of the street. Uncle said, “It’s a scheme.”

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Claudia is the new maid. I want to tell her that we’re equal, but then she asks me if I want more orange juice…

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Orange juice – watery, not creamy like in America.

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On a little rundown neighborhood in Palmira, Colombia: “Mister, if they haven’t mugged you yet, it’s best you just leave.”

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Tiro Fijo (literally, “Surefire”), later the leader of the revolutionary faction FARC, used to be part of a criminal group called Los Bandoleros (“The Bandits”). He used to go into people’s homes and murder whole families with a machete. Why does it feel like a dead person weighs less here?

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My grandmother is in a private clinic. She’s missing a tooth and she smells like blackberry juice. I’m trying to find a way to compare her to a tree, but I’ve been unsuccessful thus far.

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A man on the street is selling the “original delicious pineapple.” I really do hate when they sell me something unoriginal.

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I keep wondering if you’d be scared to walk in this city. The city is a dying organism.

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I think it’s true: you start dying as soon as you’re born.

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My Uncle talking about our driver: “His name is Wilson, but everyone calls him Nelson. That’s his story.”

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There’s this beautiful park in the middle of the city. A man is walking through it, carrying the severed head of a bull on his shoulder. That’s the whole history of this country.

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The farmers turn chicken feathers into powder to feed the pigs.

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Half rubbing alcohol & half water mixed in a bottle if you have nothing else to drink. Pickled from the inside.

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Uncle had three old men serenade us as we were sitting in a tiny taxi in the middle of the street.

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Whenever you leave in an automobile here, it’s like you’re going on an arduous journey. Everyone sees you off.

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Do you know what it’s like to wash your hands next to a man with a shotgun?

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Someone died in the clinic today. The woman was shrieking in the lobby. Why does she pray?

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A beggar offered to make us cocktails in the middle of the street.

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It’s someone’s job to stamp the word “gold” on all the eggs. It makes me feel good to know that there’s someone like that out there.

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The birds build nests on the electrical wires.

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The last time I was here, one of my cousins nibbled on my earlobe. Trying to avoid her.

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It’s another religious holiday today. No one ever remembers which saint it is.

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On my Uncle: He’s like an old tree that has just sprouted legs, taking very small, frantic steps, as if the legs are just learning how to walk under a newfound weight. He is all decaying bark.

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My account of all people accountable: the troop of twenty-somethings at the American Airlines check-in counter in Cali, Colombia is giving out sandwich vouchers instead of connecting flights. When a Colombian gets mad, he curses your mother or he cuts your throat. Out there, suddenly in a whisper of sunlight, twenty mothers slip in their showers or put too much salt on the chicken…

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I never thought the first time I’d see a woman breastfeeding would be in line in an international airport.
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On the return flight (terrible turbulence): I don’t know that I’m comforted by the idea of dying with my parents. I don’t think anyone is comforted by the idea of dying at all, as long as they have the false notion of a choice.

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