Saturday, September 24, 2011

pictures de la munte (bucegi mountains)

Spent the last ten days at a student leadership conference called Formacion. Halfway through we took a day to go on a hike through the amazing Bugeci mountains. To be clear, by hike I mean something like thirty kilometers and thirteen hours, lots of really sweaty-stinky people and some of those beautiful things you can see in Romania. Don't believe me? Keep reading, captions below each picture. :)

About an hour into the hike!

The bear-dog who someone baptized Balu, like from the Jungle Book. That dog followed us all the way to the top and back.

Somewhere around hour four, I think. Starting to get tired.

It was really clear nearly half the hike (although once we got to the top lots of fog rolled in and it got really cold).

Such an incredible place. And hard (at least for me) to climb but completely completely worth it. If you look closely, you'll see that I'm already getting help up the mountain at this point. But I did make it to the top and all the way back down!

In the valley. If you look at the top middle, you'll see a narrow slash in the mountain that goes up to the top--we climbed up that (see below). Also, for more scale, zoom in and you'll see somebody wearing red and you'll also see that most of the boulders are bigger than the people around them.

I don't think it's in this picture, but to give you an idea of how enormous everything was, there were rock faces hundreds of meters tall and there were people climbing them that you could barely make out because of how small they looked against it.

In the valley sometime after Cabana Malaiesti.

I wish you could really get an idea of the size of this place. Just massive.

Hardest part, for sure.

Hardest part is done!

Me with some awesome OSCPi leaders. Note the altitude written behind us--that's 8,225 feet. Also, just for added fun, nothing that you can see that I'm wearing belongs to me and underneath it is another two layers (three shirts and two pairs of pants) because it was crazy cold at the peak.

Unfortunately there aren't any pictures from the hike down (for which my knees did not later thank me), but it was just as crazy looking. And we also saw a capra neagra--six of them actually, but as I do not know the plural--which are wild black mountain goats that are really more brown-colored and leap down the mountain like it's nothing at all.

Anyway, one more reason to love this place.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

a vaccine against hatred

Read an article tonight called "Una vacuna contra el odio," meaning a vaccine against hatred.

It's a good article, one certainly worth reading, from El Tiempo, a Colombian news site. It's about discrimination and how it's more than just a racial thing. There's a law that was passed last July (or possibly that there's another one that will be passed in addition to this one--didn't quite catch that) that they're hoping will help in curbing discrimination and helping people to understand more fully what that means.

And a very interesting quote:

"Sin embargo, no hay que llamarse a engaño. La ley por sí sola no reducirá tales fenómenos, ni transformará las condiciones estructurales y culturales que los generaron. Tampoco llenará los vacíos que han dejado otras normas..."

"But don't be fooled. The law on its own won't reduce things like this, these phenomena, nor will it transform the structural and cultural conditions that they generate. Neither will it fill the gaps left by those standards..."

(Sorry for the clunky translating, my Spanish-speaking friends. I'm kinda rusty.)

And all I could think reading that was a handful of verses through Romans. How the law reveals to us our sin but it can't save us. And the article: the law on its own isn't going to fix things, isn't going to heal the deep-rooted problems or fill the empty places left by them. The hope then is that through this law (and other things) Colombians will be able to understand more fully what discrimination is.

"El aporte más valioso del proyecto legislativo es que define estos actos como lo que son..."

"The most important contribution of the new legislation is that it defines these acts as what they are."

Sounds familiar, no? Check this out: Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.

The point is that while the law does have a role, that's not where our hope is, that's not where deep transformative work comes from.

The good news is that it's available, that the law isn't the end of the story.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

snickers: a confession

One of the campfire games the last night of our summer camp was called Judgment. They hide you away from the fire, bring you out and then the judge asks you some questions to decide whether you get to go to heaven or you're thrown into the flames. Yeah, sounds kind of terrifying, a little questionable, but it's actually a blast. Especially the ending, which I cannot tell you. You'll have to play for yourself. So the students and I had ourselves a bonding moment that night: when it was my turn I ended up being coerced into admitting that I stole a Snickers when I was seven.

Photographic evidence of a beautiful, hysterical night:

Thursday, September 1, 2011

bidding my farewells

About to leave yesterday and feeling like I was on the edge of death,

Sara: Hey, plec acum. Nu stiu cand ma intorc, dar... sper ca ne vedem. (Hey I'm leaving now. Not sure when I'm coming back, but... I hope we'll see each other again.)

Altcineva: Asta suna melodramatic! (Sounds pretty melodramatic.)

Roommie: [sidelong glance at Altcineva]

Sara: [can't breathe, and at that super high pitch Romanians start their sentences when they're excited/flustered] NUUUUuuuuu! Sper ca ne mai vedem astazi! Astazi! Not, like, vreodata! (Noooo! As in I hope we'll see each other later today. Today! Not, like, ever.)

So ne vedem is like see you later. But in this context... Anyway, despite being on the edge of death, I am still alive. However we haven't yet seen each other.