By Ric Dragon
It was eerie, all the tables in my favorite cafe in the city were normally filled. There was only a scattering of people. The entire city felt more quiet – and if you know Bogotá, the capital of Colombia, you would have shared my suspicion that something was amiss. Well, I understood at that moment that Bogotanos were taking this new Covid19 thing seriously. I am determined to return to our nonprofit art center ArteSumapaz the next day, and go into lockdown. Beforehand, I sent out word to former residents who were still traveling in South America, saying that if they could make it by March 19th, they could find refuge at the center.
By the time we locked the front gate, we were a total of 13 people – all artists, musicians, creators, poets. While over the months, a few people left, finding humanitarian flights back to their home countries, we were a pretty solid community for half a year.
As we were foreigners, some people in the local community were suspicious that we might be transmitters of this foreign disease. As a result, we were asked to stay in quarantine. When we did finally drive into town, cars were being sprayed with disinfectants, as well as the shoes of the people in the car.
Camilo Cardenas, an US-Colombian artist, had some history as an artisanal bread baker in Boston. With his guidance, we produced fresh sourdough daily. We discovered that the days flowed into one another, and thus to create some sort of punctuation in time, we had brunch on Sundays, and residents took turns producing some of the most wonderful brunches I’d enjoyed before or since.
While I’ve been reading books and blogs about the creation of “intentional community,” I discovered that while I love community, I also need to create more space and time for myself outside of the group. Somehow, there is a balance between the two, some magical place to be discovered – and it’s a deep learning process.
Since then, we bought a dozen bottles of hand sanitizer, some new tables for the terrace, and have a stack of Rapid Antigen Tests at hand. The center has re-opened. And with fortune on our side, we’ll remember those deeper lessons of self-care, and bring that into the future.
-Ric Dragon, July 2022