This past weekend we spent two nights in the municipality of Granada. Unlike the other municipalities where we usually stay in a hotel, in Granada we always stay with a woman named Gloria who we met through our friend Oscar. She is in her early 40s and was a “resistente” during the conflict – someone who remained throughout the war and did not displace. Her husband was killed by the paramilitaries and she had to raise two young boys on her own and prevent them from being recruited into any of the armed groups. She said she played sports with them to keep them occupied, no matter the time of day or night that they wanted to kick a ball around or shoot hoops.
Despite her hardship, she has been active in the community and her walls are covered with plaques that show the appreciation of the rural communities she has helped over the years. Last week in the church archives of Santa Ana, we found the notes from community meetings referencing her and thanking her for visiting them when state institutions and organizations didn’t dare step foot in the town.
Even though Gloria doesn’t have hot water at her apartment (I heat the water on a huge pot on the stove and Jake braves the cold) and the bed that Jake and I share in one of her grown-up sons’ rooms is hard as a rock, I always sleep so well at Gloria’s house. Part of it is the cold mountain air in Granada (quite a few degrees cooler than in Medellin), the sound of rain at night, and the fact that I feel safe in her home. She also sings early in the morning when she wakes which sort of mixes with my dreams before my alarm goes off. Even if she has to work early, she always prepares me and Jake thick hot chocolate, arepas, scrambled eggs, and sometimes a chorizo sausage. And she is often out the door before we can even thank her.
She is one of the most humble and generous people I have ever met and on every car ride back to Medellin, I find myself saying to Jake “I just love Gloria.” And he always says, “me too.”