Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Checkpoint

By Kayla Knox
Jon and I celebrated our third anniversary with a warm indigenous sweet drink, uplifting broken English conversation with Lucas and Luisa, and engaging live music. The couple drove us to a quaint restaurant which overlooked north Bogota, Colombia. Upon leaving the restaurant with empty pockets, we drive down the mountain but we were soon met by a police checkpoint. Lucas, who is now a good trustworthy friend, was not worried and told us not to worry either because this checkpoint was typical to encourage minors not to drink and drive. He assured us we would be out of there in a few minutes.

The police return with Lucas' national card and security card for the car. The officer is speaking to Lucas in Spanish and pointing to the security card which the only word I can understand is cinco. He keeps saying cinco, five. “Five what?” I keep asking myself. The officer walks away and Lucas, discouraged, leans back to tell us that his security card for the car expired five days ago, it was not even his car but his dads who was out of the country at the time, and he was going to go try and talk to the police. He came back about 15 minutes later and told us about the situation. The police were telling us to get out of the car because a tow truck is on the way to impound the car and we need to get a ride back to our pink house. The couple does not trust the police so they peacefully let the police know we will get out of the car when the truck gets here or our ride arrives.

Now, before our trip to Bogota Colombia we watched “Maria Full of Grace” which was about a young lady who needed to earn some money so she risked her life, and the life of her unborn baby, to become a drug mule. People did not know and no one asked about what she was doing. We also read a book about political kidnappings that the drug lords were ordering of the people with money and political influence. The final straw that ignited my imagination was the conversation we had that night with the entire group. Our coordinator had a casual meeting with a Colombian who was able to explain more about the violence in Colombia. He stated how the militia still existed along with guerrilla warfare. With all of that negative information my mind was able to run to the most difficult situations that could happen, so I was very scared.

Every five to ten minutes the police would come and knock on the window to tell us again that we needed to get out of the car because the tow truck was on its way. The couple still did not believe the police so they held their ground and encouraged the police that we would stay in the car until the tow truck arrived. Apparently, during the entire ordeal the police would often imply that we could pay them the fee for the tow truck and the problem could be all over and we could be on our way. No big deal. Our problem was that we had just spent all our money on unannounced really expensive drinks. Also Lucas was uncomfortable paying the bribe to the police. I think if I was in his position I would have paid the bribe and then been on my way simply because I was so scared.....but Lucas held his ground. Thirty minutes of praying harder than I ever have in my life, the police come back over, gave Lucas the security card for the car and said we can go.

As we finally drive away we asked Lucas what happened....he said, “....well.....I was praying the whole time.” This experience gave me a new light on understanding the people in this community. They know what they want to do, then they will do it, but they are not hostile about it. They simple have an idea and do it. During the art camp, if I gave my students a topic to discuss they always would. If I gave them a project to do they typically jumped right in and did it unless they did not want to which they were vocal about, but not hostile. I believe this mentality has good and bad qualities. Often times the boys in our group created a project without planning and was disappointed with the outcome. If they would have stopped for a minute and planned they would have been better off. In our circumstance that night on our third anniversary, sticking to what we know is right and what we believe in was invaluable.

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