Friday, September 16, 2011

The Bittersweet Nature of Life

This may be the most difficult post I have ever written. My guide Emilio decided that we should revisit the paramo below the Purace volcano. On Monday we had had such an amazing time so we thought we could explore more today. The Paramo is a climactic and geographic zone so incredibly rare in the world. It is a flat cold plateau at 11,000 feet and is usually shrouded in clouds. It may rain three hundred days a year. All living things have adapted to this severe climate, which makes seeing them a unique experience.

We trekked out into bush and took many pictures. I even finally found tracks of the highly endangered mountain or woolly tapir which I carefully photographed. Muddy, wet and tired we returned to our car to look again at the sulphur spring which I posted about on Monday.

The top photo is the main road, a rather isolated stretch between any houses of indigenous people. Just past this spot two men dressed in military fatigues who identified themselves as revolutionaries jumped out from behind a hill and demanded we stop. One was masked and carrying a machine gun and the other packed a pistol visible from his open shirt. Anyway we got robbed. I lost both of my cameras, some money and my cellphone which only works in the States. Fortunately they didn't take the rental car or kidnap me and hold me for ransom. I also didn't lose my credit cards and I didn't have my passport with me.

Although I was calm throughout this ordeal, the shock is wearing off and I feel sick to my stomach, disoriented and anxious. I don't know anything right now about anything. My present, past and future are a muddle. I feel damaged and the adventure feels damaged. That's all I can say tonight.


  1. Oh, Lee! This is terrible! It was one of those nagging fears about your trip, that I couldn't put my finger on. Please take care.


  2. You are stronger than you think if you were able to post this so soon after it happened. I know you aren't feeling it now but you are.

    May the Lord bless you and keep you;
    May the Lord cause his countenance to shine upon you;
    May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you,
    And grant you peace. Amen.

  3. I'm sorry this happened to you in your first trip to Colombia. I think it was just a bad coincidence. However you have to have in mind that the higlands of the central Andes are not plenty under the control of the army. So, you have to choose safer areas to visit. Certainly you won't be kidnaped here, but is not a good think to loose your equipment.