Cartagena and the Bracelets


Usually as I see things, I want to tell them to the world. Here is the same.. But
writing is a bit harder now because when I am not doing something I feel I
should rest… Yet I have 3 stories I want to tell and if I do not
write now tomorrow there will be 4 things that I will have to weave

You all know I have a strong relationship with Palestinians, Israelis
and Italians. So I left Brazil having just spoken to an Israeli who
lives in Italy.  We spoke and I said farewell to Brazil and when I got
to Colombia I met Lorenzo, a friend from Italy whom I had met in Palestine.

He used to live there, now he lives here. He is a very special person. Who I have written about when I was taken by him ( against my will) to see the wall in Bethelehem with three of my friends from Nablus in Palestine. Those of you who have read me since then must remember it.

I was furious with him that day. Here it is a reencounter. A third
continent we see each other in.  He knows me so well. He makes me eat. He has
introduced me to a place he has been living in for a while. And most
importantly, he introduced me to his family who is here visiting him.

So my atypical trip started by me recovering, joining 2 italian families who know each
other for decades. Through these families I am being introduced to
Colombia. I who can barely eat am being made to eat slowly. Eat well.
And I who can barely speak Portuguese have to have complicated
conversations in Italian, swap to Spanish, English French several
times a day. To Lorenzo I speak Portuguese and now it feels like

I spent Christmas with them. Italians are hilarious. They are so
sacred about their food. And they remind me sometimes of my father with
how much it matters the food that it is put inside. Hunger can not be
wasted they say. I who can not waste hunger either (but for physical
reasons) am learning to really appreciate the food I eat.

So it was in one of these lunches that I met a Colombian woman who
knew some men Lorenzo ( my italian friend) knows. She looked at my
Chinese bracelet and commented on it. I told her it was from china and
she showed me hers.

It was made of the same material. Yet hers were three that had been
put together. She wore them and one day the love relationship she was
in broke and so did the bracelet. They separated and one of them broke
off. She took it away and locked it away. She eventually, fell in love
again, one day that relationship broke off  as well, and the second
bracelet also out of the blue broke out. She locked it away with the
first one.

I heard her and as a true south American I am discovering myself to be
I asked her whether she was starting a new relationship. She confirmed
it. It immediately came to me a story I had heard a week before. Someone
important to me had read it, It was a short story about some man who had
fished a beautiful bracelet out of the sea and had given it to his wife and fell in
love with her when she had it. He then died and some other married man fell in love
with the lady who had the bracelet.

In realizing it she gave the bracelet to the wife of that man. And so the man fell madly in love with his wife. Eventually as they decided moving houses and she used
the bracelet to tie the wires of a computer her husband fell in
love with the computer, and more precisely with writing. As this wife
also noticed this love the bracelet created she decided to break it
into pieces and asked her nephew to throw it in the sea. The nephew then fell
in love with the sea.

I heard the story and told my friend who  had read it that to me what
made me moved was to think of how love is not on things. It is in
relationships and yet sometimes we need something symbolic to see
it…. and yet this women, this archetypical women of the book don’t
want that power, they return the love that does not belong to them
either to the person who it belongs to ( first wife), or even to the
sea. And the sea for me is water, it is movement, emotion, they return
love to it all…

I tell the story to the lady. Not entirely sure why. She looks deep
into my eyes and tells me that that was the greatest gift she had
gotten for Christmas. She had locked away those broken bracelets but
had lately been thinking to throw it in the sea. Before thinking much
I said ” do it”.  Not sure why I told her then…

And after i understood why… We all have to close cycles to start new ones.

Today Lorenzo and his family invited me to go to an island. We took
the boat there… it reminded me as I entered the boat and felt the
sea in my foo that just before me waking up sick I had been the day
before in the sea. As I made my way to the island i thought of the
bracelets, and of my health.

Yet in the Island i started to do yoga for the first time as I sat in
the sand. It was also the last thing i did before being sick yoga in
the beach and the sea. And then as i deeply enjoyed discovering this
new body I live in.. A little Colombian boy sat watching me. Usually,
I would have just kept my practice. But yet there was a child and I
could not. I asked his name, and decided to teach movements to him. And
within seconds I had 4 young boys talking to me. I learned their
songs’. I learned their lyrics.. And when they were gone I entered the
sea. I sang. It was no perfect singing but I could sing to the sea. I
had nothing to return to it. Just maybe my difficulty of speaking.
Maybe i wanted to thank the sea, I am not sure… so I sang whatever came to mind.

Ironically or not, I can not know what I did to my Chinese bracelet. I
dont know where it is. I am still hoping to find where i misplaced it.
I never minded loosing things. Yet this bracelet was given to me by my

I know perfectly well what are the things that I am supposed to throw
to the sea. But maybe I am not yet ready. But at some point if  we
want to start something new we must return things to the sea. They
might be back. But we can t lock things up. Broken things. We must let
go what makes no sense. So that we can be in what makes sense.

And what makes most sense to me now. Is to go have dinner with Lorenzo
and his family. They are making me much healthier and happier.
Love from mysterious Colombia.


Ps: I wrote this post last night, I sent it and my first reply came from the Palestinian who introduced me to Lorenzo 🙂 He wished to be here, and wished for me to find my bracelet. As I went to bed yesterday I found it… under me. Who knows how .. who cares..? I wished Ahmad could be here too…

Colombia and Dona Inah

I fly above Colombia. I feel sooo much joy that I cant decide whether
I am like an addict that is just trying to go back to it. So I quit
writing. I pause and decide I should be silent and just feel it.

I feel so much joy to have random conversations with people around in
the airport of Bogota. See the elderly men who look like they have
just fallen out of a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel. I remember in my
body what i love about going alone to places i don’t know. I watch
from the distance. The little intricacies of a society that is unknown
to me.

So I stop writing and I start to try to remember what is it that I
want to go back to. I know… I still do… But I wonder how much I am
in essence a nomad. Then I put music to listen.

I listen to Dona Inah. Dona Inah is a 76 samba legend in Sao Paulo.  I
ve known her for many  years.. But the first time I talked to her was
on my birthday this november. I was in my favourite place. The Bar of
Cidao who died while I was away this year. And of which I have spoken
so much of.

I celebrate my birthday in this little bar.. It is my place in Brasil.
I was so sad to go there when I came back bc Cidao was not there. But
now it is for me the bar of Rose ( his wife) whom I always talk to. It
was the last place I went before I got sick, and the first I went to
when i could move again. So it was where I decided to celebrate my
birthday. on a monday, with my closest friends.. At around 3 am Dna
Inah in her 76 of age shows up.

She like me, i found out later, finds it hard to go there without
Cidao. She knew him for too many years. He was a dear friend to her.
She is something like the Cesaria Evora of Samba in Sao Paulo.So I,
barely recovering, went up to her and asked her to sing a song in my
bithday. She did. I was beyond happy.

After that I went to her concert and I sat with her listening to her
tell me her life. They were really epic stories. I encouraged her to
come back to Cidao more often. She told me it was hard for her. yet 2
days later she came. and I again asked her to sing a song i loved. She

I had taken with me a friend from childhood i had not seen in 16 years
(as she lives abroad for all these years). Heloisa, my friend, is a
brilliant pianist, and she was like me dazzled by encountering these
beautiful places in sao paulo. These gems in Sao Paulo.

And then I came to Colombia and I love it. And my whole body is soo
excited. But as i put dona Inah to sing here. I recognise this old
voice. Now, not only, she sounds as the amazing woman as she always
has.. But now as I hear  her  i know her stories. I know   her health.
I know her.

I now know where to go to hear it. So through music again I can
remember what is this new journey I am trying to travel. The one of
more consistency.

I am so happy to be in Colombia. I am about to get to famous
Cartagena! And I love it. But As I hear all the songs Dona Inah sings
it makes me realise I need to be back to hear her more often. To hear
her stories. i want to go back to the bar of cidao where I now know
every single musician.

Building a home when you so easily get sidetracked like me is very
hard. When, like me,  I get to meet only the nicest things everywhere
makes it easier to choose to keep going. But, maybe, there is some
balance I can find. I am not  yet sure how.

Where I can keep all  these wonderful people in my life and yet have a
home. i dont know how to… but I want to.

The most important thought of this flight is:  it is the first in a
long time that I care about. Every single other one I had no fear of
dying. These time, I have, no fear either, but I have a desire to
live. To see. To find out more clearly what is this journey all about.

I start a conversation with the beautiful black woman next to me. She
is from Cartagena. She works as a maid in Bogota. She has abandoned
her 2 children in Cartagena.  She  has to work. I have heard stories
like these all over. It reminds me of the children of Asia. I tell her
what I can. Let them know how much you are suffering. I dont know the
lady. She is a tough one. Somehow I see she is suffering. I seat there
the embodiment of someone who has no ” real economic politic
problems”. Yet I talk to her of what comes to my mind what I feel will
help her. In the end, she is concerned about me getting to the hotel.
She tells me her life.

It is one more precious life that I have heard. One more different and
yet the same  than all others. I get to Cartagena and I love it. I am
brought to the Hostel. This is home to me. The travellers. Their
thoughts. Their existencial quest. It all dazzles me yet it feels less
profound than before. They are amazing people. I can connect to them
in seconds we have all been to too many continents. I seat quiet for a
while reading Mia Couto. The Mozambican author.

Then I loose it, and I go back to talking to travellers.

I do not know the balance yet. Since I got sick I for the first time
do Yoga. I observe how much less flexible I am now. How much weaker. I
am not shocked. It is what it is. It is what I asked for. The human
discovery. In my own body, I feel, the plurality I defend  in the
world. Today I inhabit a different body then I did before. I am yet
not sure what it makes me think.

It is morning here. In very few seconds I will connect with  it. But
as I seat to finish writing what I started yesterday I listen to Dona
Inah. And in my whole body I am ready to listen to Colombian music,
hear peoples stories, connect to whoever shows up. But in her voice
there is something broken. I know what it was. She told me about it. I
recognize it. I know her story more. And so her voice is yet more
beautiful to me. Yet there is some nuances I cant know. Only with time
it might make more sense to me.

I remember once again that beauty is in recognition. I recognize this
life style. It is what I lived for so long. It is beautiful to me.
Yet, maybe, I should learn to recognize something else. I dont know…
something we can build in time. I am not sure. But I am open to find
it  out.