In the country that inspires the magical realism Gabriel García
Márquez writes about in his novels, my life was changed forever.
While on a teaching assignment in Bogotá, Colombia, living with
fear became a part of my daily life. I felt a profound loss of my freedom
of movement. Bombs went off around me rattling the walls of my apartment.
Road trips though the countryside were ripe with danger. The many roadblocks
I encountered while on weekend getaways with colleagues, I liken to
playing Russian roulette. I never knew if the men donning military fatigues
were the guerillas, the paramilitaries, or the Colombian army.
A world press that largely ignores this war-torn country along with
the astonishing strength and dignity amidst all the turmoil of the people
I met altered the course my life would take. Upon my return from Colombia,
I could not forget the stories I heard and my own personal experiences
of surviving everyday life. The local news footage I watched in despair
of the slaughter and mayhem taking place in the countryside were ingrained
in my memory forever. I felt this was a story that must be told.