almost all border cities are dangerous. maybe the inevitable contraband attracts a certain class of people which in turn breeds a certain atmosphere. in addition to the normal problems ipiales was where the F.A.R.C., the paramilitares (two guerilla groups) and the army all coexisted. at this point judas had been stolen three times and i wasn't about to leave him tied to a telephone post on the corner. i could always leave him in a parking garage but alvaro offered me his roof. judas followed me slowly up the two flights of stairs where i left him for the night with fresh cut grass. apparently you can't keep a donkey on the roof, even in colombia, and after the third night, when i was bringing him down in the morning, the police were waiting for us.
new years eve parades in southern colombia filled the streets with carrozas; the huge two story floats vied for prize money and some were later, at midnight, burned. almost every house made a small effigy-like rag doll of friend or family which represented the year just ended: burning the old year was a way of putting the past away and starting afresh but i think mostly people just like burning things.
manuel had a small mechanics shop along the highway. he helped me with judas' shoes and invited me to lunch, then to spend the night, then the weekend and finally fishing in the high mountain lagoons. the day after i arrived at berlin the E.L.N. (a guerilla military group) kidnapped a businessman and his wife. with something like incredulity the newspapers said it had been six months since the last kidnapping. the military helicopters flew low over our heads as a customer broke the silence, "you'll probably get kidnapped, too". i looked across at manuel but he just stared and said nothing.
people always want to know why i wasn't helping. i would say there wasn't really room for me and as a guest they would have protested. so i just took a picture. mauricio and lina directed this church sponsored house for orphans, abandoned girls and girls whose parent couldn't care for them. they would crowd around judas wide eyed, full of innocent questions and timid caresses. judas stayed with them but being a house just for girls i had to sleep in the abandoned lot across the street.