For the last week now I have been trapped in Villavicencio due to a major landslide that totally destroyed the road to between here and Bogotá. The very day I was planning on traveling an emergency case at the school delayed my departure and when I was about to leave, someone came running up with the news that the road was totally blocked by a major land slide. That was no problem as there was plenty of work to do and they were encouraging me to stay longer anyhow. So I simply settled in to working here and waiting on them to clear the rock and mud and reopen the road.
At first the prognosis was a couple of days, then just as they were about to open the road an even bigger landslide hit and completely took out a large section of the road all together. Suddenly the projection to open the road was discarded and they began saying it could be many days or even weeks before the road would be opened again. As the road was cut, supplies could no longer be brought in from other regions of Colombia. Within days shortages of perishable food supplies were exhausted and soon there were no vegetables or fresh foods available except for local products. Even things like milk and dried beans began to disappear from store shelves. After a few days, gas stations were totally out of gasoline and traffic on the city streets began to diminish as people ran out of gas for their cars.
As if that was not enough, another landslide took out the water intakes for the water treatment plant here and so the water system shut down. Since Sunday there has been no water and the pipes are dry. We are existing on the water we have in the storage tanks that we all have on the roofs of houses down here. Even repair parts for the substations have been hard to get and so the electricity has been going out every little bit as they have been unable to do regular maintenance. There have been concerns of major outages if they cannot get the road opened and get in the supplies they need.
With no road available, people who must travel have taken to flying. But our small airport is not open at night and so there is a very limited number of flights that come come and go each day. As it currently stands, every flight for the next week is totally sold out already. That means there is simply no way to travel to Bogotá at the moment. Normally that would not be a big deal as I have plenty to do here and enjoy working in Villavicencio, where we lived for more than twenty years. But this Saturday I am to pick up Paul Odham for a conference with the school psychologists here in Villavicencio. As it stands now there is no way for me to get up to Bogotá to get him or for him to travel down here if someone else were to meet him at the airport. So those plans are up in the air as we wait and see what will happen.
So in many ways, it is just like the “good ole days” when we lived here and we were on the edges of civilization with limited access to the outside world; when telephones were seen as a luxury for the wealthy and even water and electricity were in short supply. Back then the road was often out and we were used to that as a regular occurrence. But for a while now things had gotten much better and so it is a real hardship now that people have gotten used to having all of those things all of the time. But for those of us who lived here quite a while back, it is like the “good ole days” for us as it was what life was like back then. So when we would say “we will go to Bogotá tomorrow, If the Lord wills” (James 4:15) we really meant it. And we still do here in Colombia!