It’s been a while since I last wrote and I can’t believe it’s nearly April!  Lots to look forward to next month, most importantly Mum’s arrival in a few weeks time! She arrives in Peru on Friday and will (hopefully!) be met by my beardy backpacking brother.  She will be there for 10 days then is coming up to see me.  I can’t wait to show her the sights!

March…

The month began with a trip to Melgar, a town a couple of hours from Bogota with a very hot climate and lots of holiday homes of rich Bogotanos.  We stayed in a friend’s villa for Lorena’s 30th birthday with a pool and beautiful view of the mountains.  Below is me and my Swedish friend Lotta (who I met in Buenos Aires 5 years ago!) by the river in Melgar.  Getting back into Bogota after a weekend away is a nightmare as there are only a few routes into the city and everyone is on them!    

The senate elections took place in the first week of March, an absolute farce with hundreds of accounts of ‘irregularities’ and under a third of people turning up to vote.  People don’t vote here not out of apathy but rather out of complete mistrust in the political system.  Politics is considered a separate realm to the daily lives of most Colombians who have no interest in engaging with it.  Colombia has a threshold law whereby a political party must get a minimum of 350,000 votes to partake in the democratic system.  In a country where no one votes, a law like this is worrying as soon opposition to the traditional power blocks will non-existent, a disturbing thought in a liberal democracy.

The senate is now predominantly right wing, with ex-president Uribe’s party winning a surprising amount of seats.  The senate can exercise considerable pressure on State policy and indeed President Santos’ decisions, perhaps a worrying thought for the continuation of the peace talks in Havana which Uribe is very strongly against.  We’ll see how it all pans out…

Petro (the mayor who was ousted from his position before Christmas) has finally left his post following an unbelievably complicated and convoluted legal battle where it seemed no one had a clue what was going on!  He has been temporarily replaced by an unelected mayor before elections for a new one later on in the year. 

I wrote an article about the Union Patriotica (a left wing party, victim of political genocide) and democracy in Colombia that got published in Global Politics Magazine.  Here’s the link if you’re interested.

http://global-politics.co.uk/blog/2014/03/09/cause_for_concern_columbia_patrioticunion/

Following this, a friend who presents an English radio station out here asked if I wanted to come on his show and chat about the elections and what I’m up to in Colombia.  I don’t know if anyone is really that interested in what I have to say but I really enjoyed it!  Here’s the link to the podcast if you want to listen to it (the second one, Finding Employment) https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/finding-employment-in-colombia/id657800894?i=279611762&mt=2 – there are lots of other interesting interviews with various expats doing great things out here. 

I’ve been enjoying work in CPDH doing various research projects and most recently finalising a funding proposal for the British Embassy which is in for tomorrow.  They keep asking me for my ‘British’ point of view – ‘do you think this is what British people want?’!  In typical Colombian fashion, everything is left to the absolute last minute so I’m staying in all day today waiting for my boss to send me the proposal to translate…hours before it has to be in…! 

I’ve been to lots of interesting talks and conferences this month including one organised by a great NGO, ABColombia and the British Embassy about sexual violence in conflicts.  I got to meet the British ambassador here and hear about the campaign the UK is heading on this issue. I also went to an agrarian ‘cumbre’ which is sort of a roundtable meeting to discuss various topics.  It was interesting but not particularly well organised.  People like the sound of their own voice and so ramble on and with no structure, the meetings go round in circles.  A common theme of events I’ve been to here!

I escaped for another weekend to Choachi last week – a small town an hour’s drive over the mountains from Bogota.  My friend lives there and has a farm so we spent the weekend hiking up mountains and herding cows, really great!  The typical dish is a massive plate of every type of meat – couldn’t be worse for you but it’s pretty delicious!

My English friend Lotty’s been staying with me because she’s moving to Bogota which has been lovely, lots of wine and English rom coms! 

All in all a good month – English lessons still plodding along, nothing to report there really!  Missing everyone in England though, especially my lovely dog who sadly died this week.  Smokey was the best – an irreplaceable, loyal and loving family member that we will all miss hugely.  RIP Smokey!

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