Feeling very settled in my new flat and very lucky to have found such a great place with such lovely housemates!  Since I moved in, Kevin, an American man who’s spent most of his life in Venezuela has also moved in which is great – he’s a brilliant cook!  I’ve had my first dinner party where I introduced apple crumble to some dubious Colombians who are now full ‘pudding’ converts – just easing them in gently before mince pies and Christmas pudding next month…!  We’re having another dinner party tonight and I’m making bread and butter pudding!  Everyone thinks I’m mad at how much tea I drink – we don’t have a kettle so I make it on the hob; dedication.  Lorena and I just went to a massive market in Bogota and skipped a load of beautiful flowers which were being thrown away so our flat looks lovely now. Image

I managed to get a job teaching English for an organisation called ConIngles.  They teach lots of different groups of people but I think given that I need work to fit around working for CPDH I will end up teaching ‘business English’ to executives in companies around the city.  Although I have no intention of being a teacher, I’m actually really looking forward to doing something new which will be challenging and hopefully interesting.  Their level of English is pretty high so I’m really just giving them practice with pronunciation etc.  The paper work I have to do for each lesson is unbelievably confusing but hopefully I’ll get used to it!  They also help me out getting a working visa which makes things easier (although apparently the fact that I’m British yet born in Australia has caused massive confusion so not much progress on that front yet!).

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Medellin: view from the cable car up the mountain

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‘El Penol’ 740 steps to the top…

I spent last weekend in Medellin visiting some friends which was great.  The 9 hour bus drive there wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be as the scenery is unbelievable.  The road winds along mountain paths carved into thick jungle, often with a sheer drop meters from the bus!  Driving from busy Bogota into sleepy pueblos (villages) and through rolling hills with colourful fincas (farms) perched on hill tops was great and although I felt pretty ill for most of the trip (the man next to me forcing me to try various deep fried delicacies every time I opened my eyes!), it was great to get more of a feel for the country.  Everyone calls Medellin the ‘city of eternal spring’ because the climate is so good.  There are also really interesting innovations in Medellin, for example recently the mayor set up a huge library in one of the poorest areas of the city to encourage literacy.  There is also a cable car which links the poorer areas that scale the mountains to the centre of town.  In Medellin we stayed in a great hostel and visited beautiful Guatape.

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The view from ‘el penol’ of the man made lakes – so beautiful (with friends Amelia and Lottie)!

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Art symbolising the fight for justice for those forcefully disappeared

Having faffed around for a couple of weeks finding part time work etc , I have finally got stuck into to human rights work and am starting to see what a mine field it still is in this country.  A powerful reminder of this was a demonstration I went to last week a central square in the Candelaria.  It was to commemorate people who had disappeared in the Palacio de Justicia incident in 1985 with no acknowledgement from the State or investigation into their cases.  Seeing the friends and family of people who have disappeared really hammered home the injustice that so many people suffer here even to this day.  CPDH represents victims of State and guerrilla crimes, for whom access to real justice is a far off dream.  See my blog about the demonstration if you’re interested…

http://spititoutblog.wordpress.com/2013/11/13/seeking-justice-in-colombia/

Some of the cases CPDH is currently working on go back to 2001.  The system is slow here and requires money and time, neither of which is plentiful in NGO work.  I’m teaching some English lessons at CPDH which will be good – Diego and a few others feel that because they are often in the States, they need to be able to communicate better.

Other than that I am doing some funding research – trying to find foundations or individuals who can contribute to funding the work that CPDH does.  I‘m also helping prepare a presentation for Diego to give at a meeting of the European Commission of Human Rights which is interesting, he’s going to Ireland in a month for a conference.  I’m slowly finding out more about how CPDH works and I’m really excited to get stuck in.

Hoping to go to Laguna Guatavita on Sunday – the birthplace of the story of El Dorado.  It’s only an hour and a half from Bogota.  I feel like I know my way around the city a lot better now – still haven’t braved a local bus!  But I’m cycling now which is great – much quicker way of getting around!

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