Oneness Does Not Apply To Borders

Wall of Beynac Castle in the Dordogne, France
Wall of Beynac Castle in the Dordogne, France – a border of sorts…

Very few countries today can say that they are one nation.

So many parts of our world have been screwed up by colonists creating “imaginary” boundaries that make no ethnic, linguistic or historical sense. Africa’s horrors have much to do with that.

Canada’s First Nations have been shamefully hard done by – experiencing a long, drawn out “drip drip drip” of painstaking genocide masquerading as “civilizing” missionary work combined with fraudulent treaties and the outright takeover or pollution of unceded land. Countries that simply exterminated their First Nations or chased them into neighbouring lands  stand out, but I am not sure which process is more cruel.

A Honduran child fleeing horrid local violence who ends up facing foreign persecution enroute northward to “safety” would not consider Central or North American borders imaginary.

Occasionally when one is traveling between culturally close countries with the same language the impression is received that the border is imaginary because the people seem the same and the neighbourhoods are similar. A naive visitor might make this mistake.

I remember a taxi ride in Caracas during the unrest in late 1966. Our small group – a few Canadians headed for a nightclub – was stopped. A policeman shoved a machine gun through the window and suggested, “Passaportes, por favór.” Glad we had ’em with us, like good foreigners.

In southern Ecuador in September, 1967 the group I was traveling with were forced to stay overnight in Huaquillas, a small border town, after entering from Peru. We strolled around the main square after eating supper and I took a photo of a statue dedicated to the Friendship of the People of Ecuador and Peru. Apparently there had been a “falling out” and a policeman took my camera, removing the film. Luckily I got the camera back.

These are minor things beside the very real problems people displaced (by those who disregard borders and land rights) and people-on-arbitrary-lists have, but they point out that borders (even arbitrary ones) exist and are something with which one should not trifle.

Or romanticize.

South America Trip.10 – Ecuador and Home

On September 1, 1967  I and my four Peace Corps traveling pals, who had finished their 2-year assignments in Uruguay, left Lima by bus. We were headed for the Ecuadoran port of Guayaquil. To backtrack, I met them while traveling by train from Buenos Aires to La Paz. We enjoyed each other’s company and had stayed together journeying through Argentina, Bolivia, sailing Lake Titicaca to Puno, train to Quito, Machu Picchu and Lima. The map of my whole trip follows:

My Trip: July 13 to September 5, 1967
My Trip: July 13 to September 5, 1967
Our bus from Lima took the Pan American Highway north to Equador.  Continue reading “South America Trip.10 – Ecuador and Home”