Last weekend in San Luis, we attended our last Asocomunal meeting. These meetings were crucial to our fieldwork, as they occur once a month in rural municipalities and are the only time when ALL the democratically elected village leaders get together in the same place. This is especially important because we could have never gotten to all of the nearly 200 villages we’re including in our study. Some can require up to a six-hour hike through the jungle to get to them, and may still have remnants of the conflict within them (such as land mines…). And many have no land-line or cell phone coverage, so we couldn’t have called the presidents either. So we have attended the Asocomunal meetings to implement our surveys. Doing so has also given us a fascinating window into the local workings of Colombia’s democracy, and we have met some really cool local leaders, too.
In addition to this being our last Asocomunal, this past weekend’s trip was special for a few other reasons. First, we had Caitlin with us, and it was fun to see San Luis through her eyes. (After nearly eight months in a place it is easy to forget the magic of the green lush landscapes or how strange it is to bite into the slimy seeds of a granadilla for the first time.) She took some pictures of us presenting our results to the community, and she marveled at the cows on the loose in the town square. (Cows are often blocking the roads as we drive in and out of town, so I was glad she got such an authentic experience. By the way, did you know that cows can run really fast?)
Second, this trip was special because we went for an afternoon dip in the river with our friend Gallego, his girlfriend, and their young son, Geronimo. Growing up in San Luis, they knew every swimming hole, current, and rock in the pristine river running through the municipality. It was a beautiful sunny day and it had rained the night before, so the water was cool and the rapids created natural slides over the smooth rocks.
Third, we normally spend the night when we travel to San Luis (it is over three hours from Medellin), but we did the whole trip in a day because Caitlin was flying back to Washington D.C. the next day (and honestly, because we are totally sick of staying in hotel rooms and doing laps around a small plaza in the evening for “exercise”). So we got up at 6 a.m., drove the 3+ hours to San Luis, did our presentation, had fried fish for lunch, frolicked in the river, Gallego bought us homemade green mango popsicles, Caitlin bought eight pounds of locally grown beans, and then Jake drove us safely back to Medellin.
PS – This is Jake, just writing to thank everyone for the concern and wishes of health after my steak-stuck-in-throat incident. I’m doing fine, and chewing carefully…