Got My Bag, I Got My Reservation

My husband remembers that the boots are to prevent snake bites. I recall that the boots are for mud. We ask my daughter who confirms that we are both right. How convenient of me to forget that little detail about the snakes. If you screen out the risks and the scary bits, what you are left with is adventure. It’s a tricky business sometimes, maintaining this perspective, but most of the time that’s just the way it is.


As I make preparations for my trip, my daughter informs me that there is a pair of boots for me. They might be a little big, but that shouldn’t matter too much. I am bringing extra pairs of tall socks for her anyway, so I’ll be all set.


I call the credit card company to let them know the dates that I will be in Colombia. The customer service rep asks for various pieces of information, and makes conversation about the reason for my travel. I begin to explain that my daughter is living for a year in a community that is a 45 minute open air jeep ride and a two hour walk in the mud from the nearest town with a store. I can hear a shift in the rep’s voice as she responds. “Wow.” There is a moment of silence. I go on. “Yeah, it’s pretty far out there. They’re just used to it, though. They make that trip every week because they don’t have a refrigerator.” I hear her attentive silence, so I continue.

“She’s there with two other (essentially) volunteers (they do get a tiny stipend) living in the community and accompanying the people there to other communities or wherever they need to go to make sure they are safe. It’s just by their presence that they do this, not by any other means.”


“You’re blowing my mind,” say the rep. “I’m living in my comfy home and don’t think twice about running down the street to get food or anything for my one year old daughter. Wow. WOW,” she repeats.


I realize that I have begun to take this situation for granted. It is just the way it is. Even though internet contact is sporadic, or nil when she is away on accompaniments, we have recently invested in an international calling card, and when there is service, we can hear her perfectly well. In the few pictures that have been posted she looks delighted, at ease, radiant. In one, she is holding an enormous leaf over her head like an umbrella which is exactly what she used it for when a sudden rain cloud burst on their travels.


“She has called it paradise.” I inform the rep. “She says it’s lush lush lush with lots of delicious unidentifiable fruits and great food because she’s living amongst farmers.” In our companionable silence I sense we are both thinking about how relative each of our perspectives is. Just our conversation about this has shifted our transaction from one of routine business into something more meaningful that we will each continue to ponder. I imagine telling her colleagues, or perhaps her husband or friend about our conversation…”So I was working with this lady on the phone today and she’s going to visit her daughter who’s living in a Colombian village that’s three hours from the nearest store. Her daughter’s there for a year but these people live like that!” I also wonder if it makes her day dream about her relationship with her one year old, wondering where in the world she might be when she is 23.


I think about the level of inter dependence that must exist between the people there. With it not being possible to pop off for some eggs or flour they must regularly need to borrow food and supplies. My daughter has talked about how people drop by, and I am bringing markers for the kids when they come to draw in their tiny home. She describes her triumph last week in figuring out how to bake a chocolate cake using someone’s combination gas and wood stove.


I am eager to be there with her, to see the countryside, meet the people, the cow who hangs out in their yard, test out my rusty Spanish, and drink in a new part of the world.


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About Meg

Meg is a licensed independent clinical social worker with over thirty-five years clinical experience. She holds a Master’s Degree from the Boston University School of Social Work and a Bachelor of Arts from the State University of New York at Binghamton.