Its been awhile since Ive blogged. Many of you know Ive been going at it solo these past few weeks and though its gone well I have found myself without my mojo. There is only one thing missing so i must assume that I receive alot of my mojo from my hubby. I'm finding new ways to appreciate him everyday.
Speaking of appreciation, im full of it these days. I appreciate my Kindle. I have no time to read, I mean this literally. I might totally 20min of silence to myself per day tops.....but i do have to nurse my baby and with my light Kindle I have developed a one handed reading/nursing technique that allows me to enjoy books again for the first time in years.
Ive read quite a few since April (when i received the Kindle) but only 4 so far are deserving of a review. Most were ok but even when they are great only a small portion of them made me feel the need to share. I had to share this one not because it was the best book ever but because it taught me so much. Some I wanted to learn, some notsomuch but all was needed. the book was Even Silence Has an End
I first heard of the book on the Today show. The author seemed shy, she didn't say much or smile, i found it odd that her publisher would even put her on the show when she didn't really seem to want to be there. I knew she was held hostage in Columbia and I had heard a little on this subject in the past, but to be honest I've never given it much though. Certainly this interview didn't provoke me to give it any more.
A week or so later I found myself searching the Kindle store for my next book. I ran across it, I read a little more. It was set in the jungle, described a woman overcoming a tremendous amount, and thanking God. i figured i would check it out. Kindle books are much cheaper :)
The author is a woman named Ingrid Betancourt. She was a presidential candidate when she was kidnapped by the Colombian guerrilla group FARC. At this point the judgemental side of me took over. She was no ordinary woman, she put her life in danger on purpose with an agenda and it was a risk she was willing to take. She even signed some papers acknowledging that. ......Then I remembered that should the same happen to my husband, he has acknowledged those same risks by choosing a career in the military. That wouldn't make his life any less precious and his story any less deserving of compassion so I dropped it. I had to squash that down and think of her as a 40something mother of two with no jungle life experience and no military training.
Of course she despised her captors as would anyone (no Stockholm syndrome in this story) but what i found odd was the self-righteous attitude. She seemed to feel "above" the fellow prisoners and considered all this beneath her . An American ex-Marine who was one of her co-captives was quoted as saying that some of the FARC treated him better than she did :( You assume when you read a non-fictional book about kidnapping, that you will be rooting for the prisoner. While throughout the book I hoped for her escape, I simultaneously loathed her attitude. I was disgusted at her criticisms of other captives. One might assume that while held prisoner in the jungle we will have bad days and you might not always be at your best but trust me, i would not right a book portraying myself as a saint and namecalling and disrespecting others. She was hardest on Clara, a woman who went in to the jungle supporting Ingrid as her running mate. She was devoted to Ingrid and her ideas for Colombia's future, she was kidnapped and tortured with Ingrid and yet Ingrid criticised her mental instability calling her crazy, moody, etc. My heart hurt because I knew that as I am reading this book so is Clara. More than just characters in Ingrid's book , these are real people with real feelings who were innocent. They didnt ask to be a part of her story, and yet they became the subject of her harsh judgement and were presented to the world as naked on the worst day of their lives, in their worst mental states. I definitely appreciate Ingrid for writing the story but i thought she could have left out all the hurtful info of the other prisoners and still told it well. Perhaps focused more on herself.
Now there is what i hated about this story....but there was much that I loved. Before i read this I was ignorant to the plight of the many hundreds of hostages held in the jungles of Columbia to this day. I learned of the FARC a non-government guerrilla group controlling areas of Columbia and funding itself through illegal drug trade and the economic gains from hostage families. I was disgusted, saddened, and truly nauseous. Ingrid's story is bad enough. Hunger, torture, isolation, you name it. She slept in pouring rain, was bitten by more insects than i can imagine. She suffered diseases, was denied any medical treatment, malnourished, beaten. She describes all of this with amazing detail and survives many unsuccessful yet courageous escape attempts but what broke my heart the most was learning afterwards that there are hundreds of regular people just like you and me suffering this fate even now. Its the type of thing you want to assume someone has fixed by now, someone must have made this stop, but it hasn't. Ingrid was held from 2002-2008, this is not a problem of the past.
in addition to what I learned about hostages, I learned a few jungle survival skills :) now that is fun. As an army wife my husband has spent countless hours playing games of "courtney , what would you do" in which he places me imaginably in random settings, removes my comforts and resources and "teaches me a lesson" on various things i can do and use to survive. Ingrid taught me quite a few as well. i learned that i should grind and eat bones of animals i obtain in the wild for calcium. I learned I can eat salt water fish raw no problem but fresh water fish should be cooked. I learned many uses for black plastic sheets and that in a time of desperation an infant can be given black coffee in their bottle to survive ( i know, im still trying to wrap my head around this one but they did it, everyday, and the kid is alive and healthy).
I truly enjoyed this book so much so that I have done alot more research on many of the hostages, guerrilla leaders and current status on the issue. Many of the FARC leaders who tortured Ingrid are now deceased and FARC numbers are reportedly decreasing http://globalvoicesonline.org/2010/09/23/colombia-first-reactions-to-the-death-of-farc-leader-mono-jojoy/ unfortunately they are still taking hostages as a form of income http://colombiareports.com/colombia-news/news/3425-farc-has-472-hostages-pais-libre.html . Im interested in reading the account of the same imprisonment by her companion Clara whom Ingrid demeans throughout her story. Clara has since been reunited with her jungle born son and has written a memoir of captivity as well http://www.amazon.com/Captive-Days-Terror-Colombian-Jungle/dp/1439156956 .
while researching the author and her many fellow prisoners I discovered that i wasn't the only person who wasn't thrilled with Ingrid's description of other captives etc. In fact there was a full on boycott of the book http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Americas/2010/0921/Will-anyone-in-Colombia-buy-Ingrid-Betancourt-s-new-book . Also a boycott of her subsequent Colombian mini-series.
The real truth is that no matter how any of the hostages acted before, during, or after incarceration they are all worthy of our compassion as humans. After reading this book I truly appreciate freedom. Not just in the "American" description but simple freedom. I choose what to eat, where to use the bathroom and can do both whenever I want. I ask no one for permission to read and can walk around as little or as much as I like. It saddens me that others cannot say the same. But what can we do a million miles away with little resources to help them ....we can pray, prayer works! God listens and answers prayers and performs miracles daily, these men, women , and children suffering under the FARC are worth a moment of your time ...
and i cannot end this review without a plug for babywearing. there is a point where clara gives birth a jungle style homebirth and ingrid makes a pouch and yes even in the jungle under harsh conditions, babywearing proves convenient and beats out the stroller :)
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