May 20, 2011 at 6:40 pm Leave a comment

Split with Christian friends. Was a strange experience. First time traveling with fanatics.

One was unlike the other. The Chilean was loud and obnoxious, “pesado” (heavy) he said of himself. The Swiss was quieter and gentler. Both loved to speak of Jesus and hug, touch and kiss strangers. They called each other “hermano” (brother).

I felt a trust for the tamer Swiss that I did not feel for the Chilean, who kept referring to god as the source of all his decisions and shared his convictions with a most unappetizing vociferousness.

They called one another “niños” (children) and talked of playing, by which they meant trying to experience life as a child would, engaging with people without the barriers of space and status and living without the limitations of time. Nevertheless this concept provoked very dirty thoughts in my mind, especially of the Chilean who looks more man than boy, with his heavyset frame and bearded face, not to mention his voice and manner.

Although they were generous and kind guys I couldn’t help but turn into a cactus with them, pricking them every time they attempted to impart on me their ideas of god and religion. I’m not really atheist, but I loathed the way they had decided that their subjective interpretation of god and what is right is the only means to the good life. So after the novelty of the meeting wore off (by the second day) I started reacting like a stubborn child, adopting antireligious views to everything they said just for the sake of obstinacy.

They named me Pricilla and refused to call me by my ordinary name.

The Chilean liked to talk of perfection and how our neediness for other human beings is a symptom of our imperfection. Both had shunned the sexual life and decided never to have children, because they said it was a sin to bring children into such a cruel world…where people were destroying the planet and one another by not following god…

I asked… if there is a god why would he let innocent children be born into a world so terrible? The answer was that the choice to have children is independent of god… that the parents of sub-Saharan Africa, Cambodia and all those places where misery is plentiful and food is scarce are guilty!

When the Chilean tried to scare me into abstinence by saying that I would inevitably contract HIV, I told him to stop immediately and that I would not tolerate propaganda. It was my first time witnessing that aggressive tone of preachers, with their imperative intonations to frighten people into submission. It was scary and amusing at the same time.

We parted in the bus station. “Will you miss us?” the Chilean asked in Spanish. The Spanish word for miss is “extrañar” which sounds like “strange” so I thought they were asking “do you think we’re strange?” (a question they asked often in various ways)… so I said “no” (although really, yes!) just to be opposite and not to give them the feeling of satisfaction of being different, of shocking me… “But we will miss you!” the Swiss said with a notion of sadness in his usually gay voice.

I did miss them that first night in Popayan though. In the 4 days we spent together it really did feel like brotherhood.


Entry filed under: travel. Tags: .

how i spent my first day in Colombia… Popayan, in Southwestern Columbia

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