From Arauca, Colombia

I arrived by plane yesterday afternoon, stepped down into the tropical heat of the great plains, the llanos. This is the legendary setting for the novels of Romulo Gallegos. Smack on the border with Venezuela. The last frontier.

This morning I woke up a bit chilly from air conditioning. I'm with my friends Luis and Milena, they are both veterinarians. The little hotel where I stayed in 2014 is now a small animal clinic upstairs and the family's town residence downstairs.

I left Pittsburgh Tuesday evening, had 9 hour layover in Bogota before the flight to Arauca. Bright skys, mild temperature. In the airport I settled down in a very pleasant food court area, listening to music and reading Luis's draft thesis. He's writing sociology, not veterinary medicine; his passion is ethnography of traditional subsistence, including but not at all limited to cattle "production." More later.

Luis knows full well why I have come. Already he has engineered for me two encounters with harpists. Today I will have a lesson with "Peachy". We called on him to work out a plan. 

After eating pizza for supper, we called on Nelson Azevedo, who had given me lessons previously. He greeted me warmly, protested that no, he could not spare time to meet tomorrow, but "sit down for a visit." I declared how much I loved harp music, and how I've enjoyed listening to his CD. Very shortly he decided maybe he could play for 20 minutes or so. Of course, it was terrific. (I played just enough to demonstrate some progress, albeit lame in the true perspective.)

Nelson Azevedo is a truly remarkable musician. But there are so many remarkable musicians here! Of course, I'm really talking about remarkable HARPISTS.

Luis is very solicitous. He is distressed with social ills and cross-border stresses. The border is closed, we cannot simply enter Venezuela as we did four years ago. Many Venezuelans have crossed into Colombia, struggling to survive in marginal economy, including theft but also street entertainment. Right away coming from the airport we saw juggling acrobats at the intersection, children harvesting donations from cars as they came by. Last night we noticed a harpist in a park, presumably a Venezuelan. We will go looking for him today (not at night, Luis insists).

More later.