Colombia: San Pedro Frio: The World We Were Made For


Carol Tyx

Just getting to San Pedro Frio, a small mining town
in the San Lucas Mountains, is a challenge. My teammates and I begin
with a three-hour boat ride down the Magdalena River, picking up
passengers, produce, and a live pig in a sack along the way. A
half-hour taxi ride gets us to Santa Rosa, a small city in the
foothills. From there, we travel into the mountains by van. The
road ends at La Y, named for the fork in the road. We learn the dirt
road up to San Pedro Frio is dry enough to walk, but during the
ascent I slip into a mud-hole. It takes two of us to free my boot
from the thick red muck.

But once in San Pedro, the view is
breathtaking, a light veil of mist weaving through layers of
mountain. I feel I’ve arrived in a mythical pueblo out of the
novel, A Hundred Years of Solitude. cont. p.6

During our stay, my teammates and I make the trek
back to La Y to talk with the commander of the army encampment there.
A few weeks ago, a soldier walked through San Pedro Frio with his
face covered, which frightened the townspeople. The sentry is
curious about our blue vests and red hats, and we start a
conversation about CPT’s work. Although I can’t follow the whole
exchange, I’m aware of both the ordinariness of our conversation
and the strangeness of explaining the practice of nonviolence to
someone with an automatic weapon.

For all the astonishing natural beauty of San Pedro
Frio, it is a simple human tableau that stands out in my memory. A
father and his two-year-old son come to eat soup and a cornmeal arepa
at Doña Alicia’s*. The boy snuggles against his father on the
wood bench. When Maria slides the single bowl of soup in front of
them, the father dips a spoon in the broth, blows on the liquid, then
holds it to the boy’s lips. The boy shakes his head. “Tome,”
the father says gently, urging his son to eat. The boy takes a small
swallow, leans his head against his father’s shoulder. The father
holds out a wedge of arepa, breaks off a piece, and lowers it into
the boy’s mouth. The boy chews the morsel of bread, then reaches
for the wedge, breaks off a crumb and holds it to his father’s
lips. And so the meal continues, the father feeding the son, the son
feeding the father. I sit across from the two of them, sipping hot
chocolate. I don’t want to be rude, but I can’t keep my eyes off
this tenderness. This is the world we were made for.

*Names have been changed

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