“Manana, manana,” seems to be the answer I am hearing a lot here.
I am not knocking Colombian work ethic as I am mightily impressed how hard these people work and the hours they endure. It is not like slave labour or anything. Most Colombiano`s work 9-5 but their attitude seems to be work hard play hard and yet when it comes to their sense of urgency or track of time, there seems to be very little.
I have been trying to shoot a documentary here now for two weeks, conducting interviews and arranging access to institutions and organisations and I have one word for you: PATIENCE.
You will need a lot of this along with a nice little recipe of compromise, co-operation and resilience if you are a journalist in this increasingly difficult country.
Don´t get me wrong the people are incredibly friendly and mostly helpful but there seems to be a lot of bureaucracy and red tape that you have to cut through to speak to the right people who are going to give their honest opinions and not just an institutionalised response to your questions.
And quite honestly my best interviews so far have been me resorting to on the spot journalism in the street or finding ways round the conventional “must do” ways to gain access to speak to people. On two occassions now I have relied on friendly contacts helping me after hearing very little if anything in the way of progress and authorisation from the organisations I have been attempting to reach, including a secondary school, a restaurant and a government institution. The latter of which I knew would be difficult and I asked my sociologist and journalist friend Ana if this was anything to do with press censorship in the country and she reassured me that it wasn´t but more to do with the incredible levels of security this country has and she is right. At every corner I see armed guards and I have become increasingly accustomed to it now.
So one piece of advice when coming to Colombia, if you plan a weeks stay here take two, and if you want to make a documentary in a month, plan, plan, plan well beforehand or rely on incredible friends and helpful strangers. The latter option is not guaranteed but you certainly have an adventure in the process.