After we were interviewed by the radio and television stations, we went to a housing project to read to kids. This was my favorite part so far. The kids were very eager to hear poetry and they crowded the community room. There was no food given out, no drinks, and they sat on the floor and chairs and leaned against walls. Some very small children sat in front and made no noise. Some of the girls were dressed up in very pretty dresses. Most of the kids don’t have shoes. I was impressed by their attention. The projects have apartments that are bare inside with very little furniture and a lot of concrete but the houses outside the projects have tin roofs or thatched roofs.
It’s terribly hot here, we are sweating all the time.
We went to an exhibition for the Columbian poet, Maria Mercedez Carraza, we all took turns, even me, reading her poems out loud and then someone read to us and then there was a small chorale, then drinks on the patio.
Many of the poets are from Colombia; the poets like to get out and smoke. I like the poets from Spain, Puerto Rico and Argentina. I haven’t gotten to know the others.
There are many periods of waiting when one isn’t clear what happens next.
Okay, other big difference between the First World and Second or Third is this. In America at least, we have lost all capacity for boredom. We cannot bear to be bored for even a minute and we are checking our phone for email, FB messages, sifting our photos, and if it’s still too boring, we leave. In the Third World, they have an endless capacity for what we would call boring situations. But I think those times are when one can be thinking and using our imagination. Our children are constantly being given things to do. My kids grew up without any computer games or TV and when they were bored, I would tell them to go out and chase the chickens. Growing up like that let them live in the world of the imagination. There is a lot of playing soccer in the streets here; the girls play jump rope. Americans kids have so much more than these kids, yet many of them aren’t happy or living up to their parents’ ideas of success. And by the time they are teenagers, they are bored. I’m a creature of my culture and I feel comforted when the pace roars, but I can only be creative in silence. Talent develops itself in solitude, character in the stream of life, Goethe says.
I’m ready for more Colombian adventures. Tomorrow we are going to read to more kids. Most people get around here using motorbikes or regular bikes. Trucks and cars are less common. Sometimes you see three or four people on one bike. I ask how hot it is here, and they say sometimes it’s hot, other times it’s hotter. It’s actually usually 75-95, but feels so much hotter because of the humidity. Right now it’s nice and cool in the morning, and I have some new Colombian sunglasses which I bought for $2.00 and they are bringing me some of the great Colombian coffee.