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For those of you who haven’t heard, a small bomb went off last Friday (June 20, 2021) in Bogota. It only injured 3 people and broke a bunch of windows so the damage wasn’t awful. But a bomb is a bomb.
This isn’t the first bomb I have experienced. Even when you’re far away, a bomb in your city is something you experience with violence. First you feel the shock of the news, and once it settles in you have to make those awful, awful phone calls to everyone you love. The phone rings and rings as you’re praying to God that the person answers, and no matter how hard you try to ignore it in the back of your head you’re fearing the worse. Then you get an answer, and it’s as if the weight of the world has just fallen off your shoulders, and you realize you had had a giant lump in your throat that wasn’t letting you breathe the whole time. And still, the relief doesn’t last for long because you feel the anger and shock in your loved one’s voice. Because you learn that your uncle was on a bus a block away from the bomb, that your dad’s cousin had been to El Nogal that day but had decided to leave early, that you shouldn’t worry because your brother had gone away for the weekend and he wasn’t in the city when it happened.
I’ve been lucky enough to not know anyone who’s died because of a bomb, and I was lucky that the only bomb I have experienced first hand was nothing serious. Still, I was really shaken up. I got home feeling jittery and nervous. My hands were all shaky and I felt a strange hyperness. I kept thinking about Lourdes. I had passed by it minutes before the explotion and through the taxi window I remember thinking that I loved how there were always people hanging out there. I was in a supermarket really close by when the bomb went off and it stopped us all in our tracks. People went outside but we couldn’t see anything. A woman kept saying it was a bomb and I kept saying it wasn’t because there were no sirens. “That’s what a bomb sounds like,” she said, but I didn’t want to believe her. It makes me sad that people know what a bomb sounds like. We kept refusing to believe it until we got home and turned on the radio.
I feel stupid for having been so shaken up. It was a small bomb, and nothing big happened. But I keep thinking about the police and the 24 year-old civilian who got hurt. Just like that, in a second, everything changes. It’s terrifying.
I keep telling myself that I’m being silly and dramatic, that it wasn’t that big of a deal. I know, I know, it could’ve been much, much worse. I know, it was only three people…
But three people are three people too many.
Travel films have inspired me, given me forewarning, and most of all created false expectations. Do you know the parts of movies where filmmakers decide that they are just going to skip over the dialogue and play music while showing characters’ facial expressions or panning across a landscape? I want to know what happens in those in-between moments. This is especially important for travel films. I don’t just want these movies to inspire me. I want them to instruct me as well. I’ve seen the following movies multiple times and am always left with the same questions.
1. Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)
The movie: Frances, jilted and squeezed for alimony by her cheating husband, goes to Italy thanks to her lesbian best friends giving her their gay tour of Italia. Once there, she sees a for sale ad for a house that stirs something in her soul, makes the impulse buy of a lifetime, and creates a life for herself in Tuscany.
The questions that linger: When Frances signs the papers to buy the house in the movie, she asks an official, “I can just buy a house? Just like that?” The official says, “What are you going to do, steal it?” Honestly, I don’t know what the property laws are in Italy. But seriously, would Italian immigration just let you hunker down in the Italian countryside? Again, I’m no expert, but I’m going to have to go with not really. Since this is based on a true story, maybe I need to pick up the book for clues.
2. Before Sunrise (1995)
The movie: Two twenty-something strangers, one French, one American, filled with existential crises and lacking an ability for small talk, meet and start conversing on a train. The train stops in Vienna. They decide that they don’t want the conversation to end. So they both get off and spend the evening in the deserted Vienna streets, just hanging out and talking.
The questions that linger: I love this movie so much. The characters have an element of carefree freedom of expression to which I can only aspire. However, this movie is one step away from an after-school special. Seriously. You get off of a train, at night, with no one around, with a complete stranger, in a country that is not your own. How do you have moments like these abroad without worrying about being potentially assaulted or worse?
3. The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)
The Movie: Two best friends take a trip around South America on a motorcycle. They laugh and fight. They struggle with each other and ideas. They’re young and often just scraping by. If you take out the fact that this is based on a real controversial figure, this movie is basically perfect.
The questions that linger: One of the characters has severe asthma. During the film, an asthma attack is portrayed. Talk about a horror scene. As an asthmatic myself, watching him gasp for air so realistically always makes me wonder, how did he face the open air and elements for that entire trip without dying?
I wonder if there are movies that are out there that are both entertaining and instructional. I haven’t found one yet, but I’ll keep looking.
What are your favorite travel films? How have they measured up to your real life travel adventures?
So I’ve been reminiscing on my trip to Morocco on December 2013-January 2014. While I was on my trip there were lots of things I wish I had known, and lots of things I was happy to have learned from … Continue reading
I sat on the bench at the hammam (a Turkish bath) staring at the wall. My camera, my wallet, my phone, my bag. All gone. The woman who worked there kept saying that it wasn’t her fault, she had given … Continue reading