One day when I was living in Chocó, I decided to go to a church vigil in Basurú, though it was too late in the day to find transportation to get there. I knew that no one would leave because of the conflict. In the last few years, few people have dared to leave via highway after 6 pm. So I went to visit a friend, and at 7 pm in her house, I saw the “community TRUCK” passing by, and so I grabbed my bag and left running… “Where are you going?” I asked, “To the vigil,” they responded, and in a single jump I got on the back of the truck with the other women.
We were happy, singing and watching the face of Pablo the truck driver, for whom the time to stop listening to our screams, as he said, could not come quickly enough. He began to tell the story of the road, about the hours that it took for people to walk from Basurú to Istmina to study or go to the doctor. “But a few years ago they made the path for the cars, and now it’s easier to travel, although the problems with the armed groups have caused many people to fear taking this road, because anything could happen.” Strangely enough, the truck’s lights had gone out, but we all had cell phones with lights, which we stuck out the windows, saying decisively that today we would arrive at the vigil. Our lights worked, although they didn’t really provide enough light, and then unexpectedly the left front tire got stuck in a mining trench. We tried for an hour, but we couldn’t get the car out of it.
Out in the middle of nowhere, we began walking quickly, with a strange hurry, “so that no one would be left behind.” It was already 9:30 pm, and the only thing I was thinking was that hopefully no snakes would come out of the brush. Far from my thoughts were the thoughts of the women I was walking with; they looked worried and were constantly looking for a place in the road where their cellphones would have signal to call and have mototaxis sent to look for us. We walked a long way until finally someone could call and reported that we were stranded, walking with Caro.
To me, it was strange that they didn’t say how many we were or the exact names of the people, but in that moment I wasn’t able to understand. It was 10 pm and we had passed through the many creeks that cross the road, and we were about to cross the river when we saw the lights of the motorcycles. I was happy to see them, but the women were afraid and didn’t calm down until they saw that it was people from the town.
Once we arrived at the vigil, we had a moment to tell our adventure. I gave thanks to God that a snake did not appear in our path, and everyone laughed. One of the women I was with said, “Thanks to God that those people1 weren’t there.” “I thank God that they did not see Caro,” said another, and I began to understand why they had hurried and worried about my security. While for me it was just an adventure to walk in the forest at night, for the women it was a distressing situation.
As in this story, there exist many stories where perhaps things seem simple or a big adventure, while in reality they mask difficult realities that the communities that we accompany live.
Sometimes as we accompany others, it is difficult for us to identify deep things in the middle of daily or funny things, and it is almost impossible not to think that a snake might come out – my fear until that moment had made sense to me, as I had never experienced the appearance of armed men.
Over the next few weeks, the Seeders will be writing about these interesting things that happen in the life of the communities, things that sometimes don’t make a lot of sense to us, but deeper below the surface carry stories of pain, happiness, and resilience against a backdrop of a context of violence, oblivion, and hope.