DSCN0852As this particular quest nears its end for me, it is far too easy to slip backwards down a channel of despair and resignation—the ultimate toilet bowl swirl. (Is anyone else detecting a theme here?)

The struggles continue as they have since the Spanish conquistadores first landed in the 1500’s. The land theft and the hijacking of rights that provoked social revolution leaders like Emiliano Zapata in the late 1800’s to call for a return of the land and water expropriated from those with nothing left, repeat like a needle stuck in a single groove as the record spins ‘round. . . .and ‘round . . .and ‘round, with a dizzying fatalism. (Apologies to those of you who have no idea what that means.)DSCN0866

Today as I was saying my goodbyes to the people and places who have defined home for me these last several weeks, I wandered into a scene where a major thoroughfare was cordoned off by policemen and soldiers. A group of protestors filled the street, raising their voices and banners in front of the human rights office. I stealthed some photos and tried to get some of the protestors to talk to me about the issue du jour, but they only glanced up suspiciously, hurrying to scuttle away. (Have I mentioned that it is a bit difficult for me to blend in?)

It appeared that the protest had something to do with a demand for respect and a request for acknowledgement of right to property and political access. In the faces of the people there, I saw the features and intrinsic pride of an ancestry predating Zapata, whose ghost seemed to haunt the scene in palpable frustration.


Circling back to the beginning of this piece, I have to say that it would be easy enough to chalk this tragic story up to “Human Nature,” shrug my shoulders and walk away, expecting that “as it began, so shall it end.” But there is something about the resilience of these beautiful people, and the commitment of my fellow fellows spread across the World, and one kick-ass development professor, that won’t let me do that. In the words of Paolo Coelho in The Alchemist:

 “And, when you can’t go back, you have to worry only about the best way of moving forward.”






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