Fruit, Salt, and Rights: Blogotá Week 2

gato de la casa, la Vagabunda

Hola mi gente!  It’s been a little over a week but the being in a new country time warp effect makes it feel like it’s been over a month.  I’ve been having a lovely time so far, balancing out working and seizing el día with a hearty portion of exquisite relaxation at home with the kitty watching movies like Heat.  A few highlights:

Oh the Pitayas You’ll Peel

la granadilla, una maravilla

So it turns out I’m not the only thing thing that’s fruity in Colombia.  Lulos, granadillas, guanábanas and pitayas are just some of the amazing fruits available here. Many of the fruits I had never even heard of and could have only imagined in the pages of a Dr. Seuss book. Obviously, they are as commonplace for Bogotanos as hummers and pretension are for Los Angelenos (welcome to LA, bro!) I have many more to try, but my favorite so far is la granadilla, which according to my roommate is best opened by cracking it over someone’s head and is often used to mimic boogers and snot. The snot part tastes sweet and delicious, like lychee, and you slightly chew on and swallow the tart seeds. Yum. (Joke break: How do you make a granadilla dance? Put a little boogie in it.)

Zipaquirá: Getting Down with High Blood Pressure

tasting the salt wall. yup, it tasted like salt.

Yesterday I took a trip to check out the Salt Cathedral in Zipaquirá, about an hour outside of the city.  There was an original cathedral built in the salt mines used by miners in the 1950’s, but the current one was built in the mid-90’s, is a huge underground Roman Catholic cathedral and is mainly a tourist attraction.  It worked–it attracted me.  Lots of Virgin Airlines style pre-flight purple lights shine on salt and granite crosses and lead you down to a huge sanctuary.  The coolest part for me was just being so far underground, taking in deep sulphuric breaths, successfully resisting a panic attack and admiring the natural designs of the sparkling salty walls.  For me, the experience was as secular as it was salty.

Human Rights Are So Gay

Virgin America lights in the salt cathedral

And Trans, and Lesbian, and Bisexual, and…. so much more.  My work this last week has sparked lots of competing thoughts about both the discouraging and encouraging aspects of human rights advocacy.  They go something like this   YAY! There is progress. This year the InterAmerican Court ruled in favor of Karen Atala, a Chilean lesbian judge, who had lost custody of her children after her vengeful husband took her to court when she moved in with her partner.                 BOO! Progress is slow. It took seven years for the case to work its way through the InterAmerican system and for Karen to be reunited with her three daughters. YAY! Widespread impact. The ruling did more than just say that Chile violated Atala’s rights to privacy and non-discrimination; it established sexual orientation and gender identity as protected categories so that discrimination on either of those grounds is a violation of international human rights law, which could impact future Latin American cases and domestic policies.  BOO! Risk of backlash. There is the risk of violence against groups such as LGBT people where visibility is increased and advancements are being made. YAY! Framework for change.   I see human rights advocacy — albeit a gradual process and far from capable of functioning alone — as somewhat of an answer to the despairing statements that get thrown out when the tragic murders of Daniel Zamudio or David Kato happen: “This is a tragedy and something must be done about this.” I think that to an extent, human rights provides a framework for addressing violations, preventing future violations, and contributing to the creation of norms that have the potential to fundamentally change global attitudes towards vulnerable groups of people, such as LGBT people.


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