While I was visiting my dad in Colombia, we went to his favorite restaurant: Bururake is an outdoor kitchen and a few mossy tables in the backyard of a home that’s covered with ivy and hammocks and stray dogs and cats near the top of a mountain called Minca which towers over Santa Marta, the oldest Spanish colony in the Americas.
In 1498, the Spaniards landed in Santa Marta and enslaved the Kogi people who had been living there for as long as any of them could remember. At the very top of Minca mountain live about 12,000 Kogi people, but no one ever really sees them. They believe photos steal their souls so they stopped coming down the mountain when it seemed they could no longer do so without being observed, photographed, and thus robbed a morsel of soul. Until recently, the paramilitary enjoyed free reign over Minca mountain, enslaving the Kogi people yet again (this time to grow coca) and scaring all the villagers and would-be visitors away. Now there is an army guard in front of the church who inspects all incoming and outgoing vehicles- one hand choreographing mirrors and paperwork, one hand on his giant automatic rifle (manufactured in Israel).
On the way up the mountain, my dad and I fought about export processing zones and the TLC. Then we ate patacones con salsa picante, ensalada de aguacate, and crema de espinaca. (Que rico!!) My vegetarianism is always a delightful challenge to the friendly chef at Bururake. On the way down the mountain, we fought some more until I fell asleep, my head bobbing in time with the bumps in the rocky road.
Just before we left Bururake to descend Minca mountain, an architect approached my father and asked if he was looking to build a home. The architect showed us a model he’d constructed and explained that he’s been designing ‘eco-friendly’ housing for lots on Minca mountain. His model featured real sliding glass doors and living plants. His idea included using locally grown, sustainably harvested construction materials as well as the incorporation of the environment into the structure. The model is quite beautiful, as is the idea. I just can’t help but wonder where these ‘lots’ are and who will have to move to make room for these structures.