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Morning at Javeriana and afternoon at Finca: Las Margaritas

KATE: My days of my attempted eloquence are over. There is too much to say now, and too little time spent quietly; we are so excited for our last hours in Bogota that even when we have a little time we fill it with something additional.

Yesterday, we were generously hosted by the Jesuit University, Javeriana. We had a breakfast session to discuss with each other and 4 professors, what we are finding in Colombia. From these four knowledgeable people we learned much more of the history of the wars/conflicts (depending who you talk to) and the land and displacement issues that are much of what remains. They taught us about what has been done to try and fix these issues and why those efforts have been unsuccessful. The issues are very complicated and find themselves as root causes for many current issues. What they taught us we followed up on with Robert Max in the afternoon and he was able to provide supporting information and provide the topographical information to help us understand further. This session was incredibly helpful to understand what is happening in Colombia, beyond difficult readings and the surface story presented by media.

This was a very sobering few hours. So many of our conversations have been about the Magic of Colombia, and while this group was not short on passion for the country, it came with a strong reminder and concern over the history and why we are where we are. We discussed the peace discussions that are currently taking place in Cuba, between the left and the Colombian government, while they are not the first, wonderful progress. It was said later, that it is in peace discussions where we learn about the tragedies that have been buried for many years. I was told that if these peace discussions are successful and the former Guerrilla members are integrated into society, it will be the hardest time for the country. Most of the Colombians we have spoken to are eager to forget the past and move on, it was important to take a moment to remember.

The afternoon was spent in heaven. And by heaven I mean at a Coffee Hacienda in Cayunda run by Carlos Edgar Diaz Fifuentes, an economist and former executive of the Colombian Federation of Coffee Growers who, in 1985 bought the land and hacienda to learn the things “you can only learn out there”. We received lunch, an International Coffee Economics lesson, learned and saw how the coffee is grown and produced, and walked the most beautiful finca that has ever graced this earth. There is so much more to say on this experience, I will have to take the time to reflect more thoroughly, later! The experience deserves its own blog, book or lifetime.

It was a 2 hour drive out to the finca and we were able to take in the landscape and first hand understand the infrastructure challenges we have learned so much about in the last several days. This two hour drive only took us 40k outside Bogota. While the drive was long, we spent it split between taking in the world outside the windows, and in conversation with each other and with Robert. It was wonderful to see the sites outside the window and see how quickly, once outside Bogota, it becomes a different world.

We had dinner with Jorge Cardenas Guiterrez, an economist who had worked for many years with the Colombian Coffee Federation. He has written about the subject, and even gave us a current article to take back and translate into English as it has all the most recent data. Our dinner took us late into the night, and never failing us, Robert Max translated every word.

Everyone in the group has learned so much, and being part of a smaller of a group has meant each of us has contributed significantly to conversations. We were asked at dinner, you are all so different has that been challenging? The feeling we have is, not challenging yet, but enlightening as we each continue take away something different from each experience. Sharing has allowed us to see things from not only our own eyes, but from our peers as well.

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