Big Swamp and The Fishmongers of Tasajera, Colombia In Photos

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BEACON

Tasajera, Colombia is a small village that lies a little more than an hour east of the Caribbean port city of Barranquilla, and is home to a thriving community of artisanal fishmongers. The fishmongers of Tasajera live from booms to busts. Sometimes they come to market with a catch that nets them $50 a day, and that’s good for a fishmonger. Other days, a crew of three might go a whole stretch of days with no catch.

Colombia’s ‘Big Swamp’, Ciénaga Grande, is home to a thriving community of artisanal fishmongers on the country’s Caribbean coast. This photo essay takes you inside Tasajera, a village where fishmongers from around Ciénaga Grande come to sell their catch. Continue reading on Beacon…

Her Loyal Lieutenant Is Gone

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BEACON

Let’s face it: the crime committed down at the Getsemani Hotel wasn’t even a very complicated stunt to pull off, nor was it very elegant. But hell… the guys who did it still got away with it.

Would the crime committed against a guest of the Getsemani Hotel ever have happened if Lieutenant Riveros hadn’t been sent away? This is a personal essay about the corruption surrounding a petty crime on the streets of Cartagena, Colombia’s False Positives Scandal, and loyalty. Continue reading on Beacon…

When The Children Play

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BEACON

He had an innocent face. I looked at him again. I have to say he was a pretty handsome kid: athletic, strong build. He was fast out there on the plaza with the ball, and he was sweating bullets. I asked him what he liked to study and he said mathematics. But romance… That was what he really wanted to know about.

A group of Colombian children play soccer every day after class in the big plaza just a stone’s throw from where they attend school at Cartagena’s La Milagrosa school. One wanted to show me his sketchbook. Another one wanted to know about romance. This is a personal essay about when the children play, Colombia’s La India Catalina, and innocence. Continue reading on Beacon…

And I Like You Too, Julio Cesar

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BEACON

I often see Colombians crossing themselves when they walk in front of a large church like La Santísima Trinidad (that means Holy Trinity in English). It’s a very Catholic tradition. What you do is you hold your hand open and raise it to your forehead. From there, you draw a line down the center of your body to your chest, then swipe over to the left for a second, and then swipe to the right, and that’s it. You’re done.

I met a man in front of a sad-looking yellow church with sea green doors called La Santísima Trinidad. He wanted to know about my beliefs. His name was Julio Cesar. This is a personal essay about an oil man, Colombia’s tradition of Catholicism, and tolerance. Continue reading on Beacon…

Fooled At Night

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BEACON

It’s remarkable how easy it is to get fooled. Sometimes, clever people really get the best of me. And the hot night of July 24th was one of those times.

Much earlier that day, through a reckless series of Si Señors and No Señoras I found myself in the company of a new friend. He’s a leather smith and we were sitting in his shop. It was a sweltering night, around 9pm or so in Cartagena’s Getsemani neighborhood, and my new friend the leather smith was done for the day. So we set to drinking. Continue reading on Beacon…

John Backus: Computer Science Pioneer

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OZY

It was 1954 and somewhere in the offices of IBM, a 30-year-old whiz named John Backus and a small team of programmers came up with a new computer language. Backus later confessed that he was unsure of what he was doing. But his invention of FORTRAN — the first widely accepted high-level computer programming language — was about to change … well, just about everything. Continue reading on Ozy…

Introducing The Bacatá Diaries

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BEACON

Almost every reporter I know has a notebook. Like Polish journalist Ryszard Kapusckinski, I like to keep two. The second one is a more private one, where I toss bits and pieces of less formal reporting, thoughts and reflections into a personal, hand-written rough draft of history.

That second notebook is what I hope to share with you through The Bacatá Diaries. You can expect the stories I publish on Beacon will read in the style of personal essays woven together with bits of original reporting and Colombian history that I find interesting. I like characters, but I think the dance of back-and-forth that happens between reporter and subject sometimes tells more about our humanity than the story itself. Continue reading at Beacon…