Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

when humanitarian work breaks you

There comes a point when reality and fiction come together. When after long talks you finally come face to face with the face behind the numbers, and it’s the one of a 15 year old girl  covered in bright make up. Wearing little more than clothes and a kind smile. No pride or self worth to  shelter under. And then your soul cracks. A quiet dry break slithers from the bone through the ice, from the core to the surface, where belief in justice and order used to beat.  Certainty pulled  from underneath your feet. Solid ground turned into glass. You don’t fall in, you are still privileged, but you now get to see the abyss underneath. Your breath stops and fear grips your lungs. Nothing is where it was, where it used to be, how it was meant to be, how they explained it you and how you explained it back.

You smile back. Forever broken. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

you are my wild

need I say more?
Fossil, magnifying glass, x-ray vision machine and other necessary tools for modern paleontology. Need I say more?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

on two dimensional planning and 3D slap backs

I always joke that I pull a superman when I go on my work trips. I go into the airport dressed up as mommy, and –like superman- change into my super aid worker costume (only using the bathroom as opposed to the phone booth, which no longer exists and could get me arrested).

While no actual change in clothing happens, there is a shift in my head which takes place sometime in the process. The airplane acting as a time capsule of sorts takes me away from my reality, and eventually brings me back.

This last trip entailed a family stop over, so it was hard knowing what to turn into at the airport. I had a few somewhat surreal days in Lima, a gift of time with those close to my heart, but too far for my hectic schedule and anorexic wallet. Much like a dream it ended abruptly when I found myself on a plane headed for a place were I’d once spent a romantic holiday, back when theone was still only maybe. I’d had no time to morph and was still struggling to see what is somehow home as the target country. Which already says miles about what the aid industry can do to your mind map of the world. 

As we approached the mountain range for landing, the sunset’s golden light and heavy clouds gave way to a striking landscape. Only then did I remember that this is the imperial city, once capital of the Inca empire, home to one of the most spectacular temples, world heritage by excellence, a spiritual place and axis of the earth’s energy to many. I was reminded of another gift I was being handed, that of time, in this magical place, alone. And so right there on the plane I decided I would make the best of it. By day I would tend to my duties, but outside working hours, now freed of any family commitments, I would spend my time feeding my spirit and its temple. I would find yoga classes to attend, for sure available in this Mecca for hippies. Fill my empty hours with meditation, and take in the energy from this sacred place.

Next thing I know the pilot is informing us that those beautiful thick layer of white clouds won’t let us in, we are flying back. Years ago the gods had made it impossible for me to reach machu picchu.  Now it seemed like Cuzco was also resisting.

I spent the night in a cold damp three star hotel. Which was fine because I had to get up at 3am to be picked up in time for the first morning flight, but annoying because my bus did two previous stops to drop other passengers at gorgeous five star hotels.

The next day we attempted to beat the sun and the clouds. As soon as reports of clear skies came through we set sail, and after one failed first attempt we managed to land. Finally.  The humid cold air creeped into my bones as soon as I set foot on land. I’ve forgotten half of my clothes back at grandma’s and can only wear skirts for the next 5 days. The cold and  high altitude keep my fingers paper white and ice cold. It would take me almost a day to finally thaw them.  Fast forward to the end of a first productive day  of work to find me bending over  the office bin vomiting, documents and purse in one hand, a can of oxygen in the other. My grown-up dressed-up look completely ruined.   Maybe the gods are taking the demons out the old fashioned way, no yoga or meditation required. Maybe even the best laid out plans are just that, plans, wishful thinking, na├»ve two dimensional visions of what always turns out to be a complex 3D reality, coming right at ya when and how you least expect it. Maybe that was the lesson the gods chose to share with me.