I Love Magic

The Fraternity of Colombian MagiciansI am not gunna lie… watching grown, professional men bicker over the bidding price of rubber chickens, confetti, and miniature cards is a sight I will never ever forget.  This would only happen amongst magicians.  The magic community of Bogotá has surprised me with both its connectedness and its support with our work here.  About two weeks ago, all of us Bogotá magicians gathered in the beautiful home of Gustavo Lorgia, where he auctioned off books, props, and gags all related to our beloved art- magic.  It has been a dream to carry out our work here in Bogotá with the support of such an incredible community of magicians.

To be honest, the transition of getting back to “normal” life after all of the wonderful adventures has been quite a challenge.  Not necessarily for the work, but for the chain of events that has accompanied the transition.  First, let me re-cap you on how things are going with our work here.

The magic at the hospital has continued to grow and evolve.  Seven months ago, I showedJuggling Master Joe up at the front doors of Hospital Vista Hermosa and told them I wanted to do magic for their patients.  They were confused and tried to understand what I meant until they eventually let me come and work my magic.  For the first month, I went completely by myself.  Then, Juggling Master Joe, began to accompany me each week.  Not a month after this, I met Carlos Lopez (from Connecting Smiles), who now joins us every week.  Carlos is well connected with the magic community, and each week he brings another magician.  What started as a solo magic gig has turned into a weekly quartet of four performers that never fail to give bored patients in the waiting rooms a good laugh and sense of awe.  That is magic in itself.

I was quite nervous to see how the kids would fare after nearly two months of vacation (thePracticing Away foundation where the club is hosted was closed down during the holidays).  To my delightful surprise, the kids came back with more talent and passion than ever.  And because of this, we are teaching them more magic than ever and they are really taking to it.  Two weeks ago, I told them that it was my dream that they accompany me to perform in the hospital.  I am optimistically hoping that they are about a month out from being ready to do this.  I remind them of this dream every week.  The idea is that eventually, these kids will be the ones who organize and run the weekly performances at the hospital in their very own community.

Carlos and the young MagiciansOn top of this, we are in the process of starting a second magic club with 10 children who live in an orphanage, thanks to the help of Carlos.  We are so grateful to have him on board- his passion and expertise is what will assure that this project continues to thrive and grow after I leave here.  Leaving this sustainable was one of our main goals when we touched ground here and there is no one on this planet that will do it better than Carlos.

It seems as if I threw the clock off the mountain as time is literally flying by.  We are already preparing for Tom Verner’s second visit to Colombia.  He will actually be here in exactly 20 days!  During his time here, we are planning some shows, hospital visits, and an intensive weekend magic camp for the kids in the magic club.  This has proven to be quite successful in El Salvador and India.  Carlos and myself, along with the rest of the magic community in Colombia are getting very excited for Tom’s arrival.

These last three weeks have been pretty intense.  Johanna had her official graduation The Grad and Her Familyceremony- congratulations to her!  That also meant that her parents were in town- which in turn meant that there was inevitably more parent drama.  Things eventually calmed down, but it was really tough as those were her last days in Bogotá and we spent a lot of time and energy trying to navigate through the tension with her parents.  Two weeks ago, Johanna moved about three hours north of the city, where she will fulfill her rural service year.  In Colombia, it is an obligation for all health care professionals to complete this upon graduation- it is great because it is great practical experience for the new graduates and serves a very big need in rural communities that lack health care services.  Selfishly, however, I HATE it.  It has been a harder transition than I anticipated… I really miss her.  She is working inside the base of a battalion of the Colombian Army.  Funds were cut this year and she is filling the shoes of two doctors- she Celebrating with the Gradherself is serving a population of     10, 000 people (soldiers, families, and elderly).  They are making her be on call 24/7 which is horrendous and inhumane, not to mention illegal.  But after all, we are in Colombia, and it is the Army.  We are looking to see what can be done about changing this as it is very tough for our relationship- especially seeing as my days are getting numbered here.  Fortunately, I will get to see her tomorrow- I’m going to pay her a little visit even though she may have a bit of work to do.

In the midst of this major change, I have been experiencing numerous inconveniences that would not occur in the United States, and I am beginning to feel ready to go back home.  Traffic is a nightmare.  People are always late (sometimes more than an hour).  My university doesn’t have enough classrooms for my classes.  Sometimes I show up at 8am to give a class and no students come at all.  The fumes from the traffic are intoxicating.  Personal space does not exist here.  Things like this have made me appreciate the daily comforts of the United States at a whole new level.  Don’t get me wrong- I love it here and I always will- I am just feeling that my time is coming to return home for a bit.

On top of all this- last Friday I went to take money out of the ATM, to find that I had the equivalent of US$3 remaining in my account.  When I checked it three days prior, I had the equivalent of US$750.  I think someone rigged the last ATM I used to make a duplicate of my debit card.  Then, someone went on a shopping spree with my money and without my permission.  It would have been easy to get mad, but really it just made me sad.  Why do we do things like this to each other?  I just don’t like how damn greedy and inconsiderate we humans can be.  In the United States, the bank would conduct an investigation and return the money within a week or so- I had something similar happen when I was living in Central America.  Here, the bank said it will take 1-2 months, and that is IF I get it back.  I am optimistic I will, but you never know here.  Very frustrating.  I just remind myself that: It is what it is.  There was nothing I could have done to prevent it and there is nothing more I can do from here.  It is out of my control.

View from my new ApartmentIn the midst of chaos and stress, I always turn to nature.  Unfortunately, there isn’t too much of that accessible here.  Thus, I have been turning to magic.  It has been my saving grace.  My lifestyle is much slower than it has been with living in more of a family situation and with having Johanna gone.  In a sense, it is a blessing as I am devoting most of my free time to studying magic- something I have been wanting to do for over 5 years.

It is hard to believe, but I have just about 3 months left.  What happened?!?!  I cannot believe it is already time to think about transitioning out of Colombia.  I have started to become preoccupied about what will come next as I am taking one more year before Medical School.  Thankfully, this week some exciting plans have begun to brew.  I am not yet ready to spill the beans, so stay tuned.  Thanks for reading!

8 thoughts on “I Love Magic

  1. As always we love hearing about your life and the events that you experience in your environment. We miss you and love you and wish you a safe journey as you prepare to return home.

    Grandma & Grandpa

  2. Hi Ryan, alas, it sounds as if the typical 6 month honeymoon phase is over and good ole culture shock sets in…or have you already heard enough of this through Fulbright? anyway, your weariness is so understandable and considering how much positive energy you have given your experience so far, the struggles and trials may show ways to overcome ‘suffering’ as well…making you, inevitably, a stronger person, at least that is my sense of these experiences. At least you have an excellent attitude when things are out of your hands as you say, cannot change what is part of corruption and lack of transparency. Well, your strength and courage will prevail. all the best from Samish Island, and hugs, Charlene

  3. Yes, the Colombian Clock is ticking away. Excellent to have realizations that prepare you for your return and excellent to get the goodie out of each and every precious moment. How wonderful that Magic Club #2 involves children from an orphanage and so incredible that Magic Club #1 participants will be accompanying you to the hospital. Cheers for the realization of your goals, fabulous work, indeed. So exciting that Tom will soon be with you. Love to Dear Johanna. And oh, have you heard? Gonzaga is in position #3 in the nation!!! Position #1 is predicted – wow, Go Zags! Love You Ryan, xoxo Mom

  4. We always enjoy your thoughts and feelings about your experiences while you are away. It’s good to remember there has to be rain if we want rainbows, so do your best to weather the showers and look for the colorful, brighter side to come. (It sounds like you are already looking forward to a future adventure. Have fun planning!) Good luck making your magic perpetuate your presence in your adopted community. Helen

  5. Dearest Ryan
    The blog that you have thoughtfully written is our link to you. The frankness gives me a feeling of close sharing. What a delight to hear that the magical hospital visits will continue after you leave the country. So glad it’s coming together and that you manifested a vision.
    Take in the warm where you are. The wet cool time is here. Too much for growing but the forest are still flurousing for nature emerson.
    When I acknowledge suffering in my life I find it has less power. Here is a big hug from me!
    I,ll eagerly await your next blog installment. Just celebrated with Gum your Mom’s turning 60. Met a lady who turned 91 on the same day passing by! Such syncronicity! Love, Cheryl

  6. Hey Ryan, I’m sorry to hear about your money issues. I was listening to an interview on Rick Steves yesterday with a guy who is planning a 3 year African continent tour (great interview – check it out on iTunes or http://www.ricksteves.com) but he commented on his strategy when traveling in non-Euro/Western cultures: Expect to get ripped off 2-3 times. When he does, he considers it a donation to the community’s economy. Although YOU don’t have the money (or in his case, camera, iPod, etc), that item will be sold and that money will support someone who for whatever reason felt they ‘needed’ it, and will circulate in the community. Something like that. Check out the podcast if you can – it’s a great perspective on reframing those kinds of frustrations.

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