notes from Colombia, December 2009:   
   "...The road out is thick with silt. We sweep past indigenous huts
and rivers full of naked swimming children. A group of men pan for
gold in some unnamed river. We arrive in Urrao late afternoon, covered
in the fine grit of the road. All eyes fall on us as we go from store
to store, buying cigarettes, rum, candy and bread. We take lunch in an
empty cafe and the kitchen girls peer at us through the threshold,
giggling and hiding each time we turn our heads.
   At the farm we trade our jeep for horses and saunter up the rocky
hillside. The trail steepened immediately and the horses were soon
covered in a greasy leather-smelling sweat. After another hour we
reach the bunkhouse. Inside, Luis's wife finishes dinner and sets into
making tea. We are at 10,000 feet and the water takes a long time to

   Darkness comes and I slip outside to smoke. The stars overhead are
familiar but, being skewed by latitude, seem foreign and strange. A
long falling star streams across the sky, melting as it goes. I think
of a thousand things.

   The river went running along in front of me, babbling its constant
song. It seemed that it would run forever, past the beautiful birds,
past all the mornings and evenings of life, past everything: unspoken
and eternal beneath the diamond sky..."

 [image: Black-and-gold Tanager]

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