But when I do travel, as you know, I love going off the beaten path to the roads that lead to nowhere. I love meeting people whom almost never receive visits from foreigners. I love to go places that change me for the better and teach me many lessons. I like to lightly stimulate the economies that haven't developed a tourism industry. I love how much my stories have meant to people as a result. I love the surrealism of being there. I love the hint of adrenalin of being in places I have been told not to visit. I know that these experiences will pay off one way or another.
Colombia is a much safer place than it was a few years ago. I mean, the place is flooded with tourism and foreigners are beginning to discover how amazing this country is although buried in their guide books as if it answered the meaning of life. However, off the beaten path in Colombia can lead to potentially risky situations. Roads that lead to nowhere often mean that they lead to problems with public disorder; in other words teenagers with plastic boots, kalashnikovs and a warped perception of reality outside the mountains and jungles of Colombia. Colombia was once number one in the world for kidnappings but of the time of this writing Colombia is at number four after Mexico, Venezuela and Brazil depending on whom you ask.
I write this blog as a message to family and friends: If I am to be kidnapped (which statically is HIGHLY UNLIKELY) don't give in to their demands. I mean, if they charge something like a few hundred dollars then fair enough (I'll pay you back hehe) but as soon as it reaches the thousands do not give it to them. Like all economies kidnapping for ransom is a lucrative business because it's easy money and easy money signifies that people are continuing to do it. I understand that it is an immense amount of stress knowing that one's loved one is rotting in the jungles of Colombia but if you pay the ransom that is incentive for these players in this ongoing conflict to continue kidnapping. Is that fair to the rest of the Colombian people? If I am to be kidnapped, I would rather have something happen to me than pay them off in order to send a message that kidnapping will not be rewarded. The less we give into grief by paying off armed groups the quicker they will lose funds and in the long run lose power.
My basic message, don't support their dirty war. I am just one life and when we chose to fight against this disgraceful act, the more lives we can save. If I am ever to be kidnapped (I hope that this is never the case), I will comply with my captors and do whatever it takes to survive. But I will do as much as I can to discourage this behavior as well.
This isn't a matter of politics, it doesn't matter if it's the left or the right, kidnapping is unacceptable; especially when one claims to fight for the pueblo (population).
Take care, sorry for writing a depressing blog entry for you to read. Love you guys and I promise that I'll be fine, plan my trips carefully, and not get into intentional danger :)