Friday, July 4, 2008

INGRID BETANCOURT FREED - at last

'Nirvana' in Bogota for freed hostage



Mauricio Due-As AFP/Getty Images

Freed Colombia hostage Ingrid Betancourt, center, is kissed by her daughter Melanie Delloye, left, as her son Lorenzo looks on, at the airport in Bogota. As former Sen. Ingrid Betancourt reunites with her two children, transfixed Colombians share in the exultation.

"Paradise, nirvana, must be something very close to what I am feeling in this moment," she said on an airport tarmac after being reunited with her two children, Lorenzo, 19, and Melanie, 22, who arrived in Bogota on a French government aircraft. "These children are my light, my moon, my stars. It was the desire to see them again that drove me to get out of the jungle."It was another nationally televised chapter in the sociopolitical drama that has transfixed Colombia and much of the world. Betancourt is a dual citizen of Colombia and France, and her case has become a cause celebre in France while generating intense interest throughout Latin America.

By Patrick J. McDonnell and Chris Kraul, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers July 4, 2008

For a long time now I have been following Betancourt's story and feeling great empathy for her. Held hostage in the jungle for 6 years, gradually becoming more frail to the point where she thought any day she was going to die. No one can imagine what it is like to live like that in daily fear as well as terrible conditions. She had one tiny radio which her son used to broadcast on in the hope she could hear him. These messages kept her going, but as cruel punishment her captors used to confiscate the radio.

I have prayed so much for this woman, I felt such joy this morning when i heard of her freedom. I am so pleased for her family and the other hostages freed with her

A Good day!!
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Below I have pasted a summary of the background story from Reuters

(Reuters) - Colombia said on Wednesday it rescued French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt and three Americans from leftist guerrillas who had held them for years in secret jungle camps.

Here are some facts about Betancourt and other hostages held by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

* Colombian-French politician Ingrid Betancourt, who was running for president, and her vice presidential candidate Clara Rojas, were captured while campaigning in 2002. Rojas gave birth to a boy, Emmanuel, while in captivity in a secret jungle camp.
* Three U.S. Defense Department contract workers -- Thomas Howes, Marc Gonsalves and Keith Stansell -- were kidnapped when their aircraft crashed while on a counter-narcotics mission in February 2003.
* Betancourt and the three Americans were among 44 key hostages the FARC wants exchanged for jailed rebels. Some have been held for nearly a decade. The government says the FARC holds another 700 hostages.
* In late 2007, the army arrested a group of guerrillas as they delivered documents including a video that showed a gaunt Betancourt sitting in the jungle and the three Americans. In a letter to her mother, the politician said she was barely eating and that her hair was falling out.
* The FARC began as a Communist peasant army in the 1960s. President Alvaro Uribe has pushed the guerrillas onto the defensive with a U.S.-backed security campaign, but the group is still fighting, kidnapping and trafficking in cocaine.
(Editing by David Storey)
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As-Salaam-Alaikum

Hi, i'm writing this blog page to share information with all you wanderlust souls out there. Living in Morocco comes with lots of bizarre and unexpected events, which i thought you may enjoy reading about and sharing in the laughter.

My family and I moved to Marrakech 11 years ago from London. The beginning of a huge adventure for us. Choosing which country was right for us to live in had been an extremely long and tiring process. Having made a choice to move to MarrakeSh, was in itself a big box ticked. We had two criteria lists, one for our business (opening and running a guesthouse) and one for personal.

Phase two of our journey then began. Setting up home in Morocco, also a non English speaking country with a very different culture to ours. Marrakech is a real melting pot of; languages, tribes, rich, poor, city slickers, country peasants. It sometimes reminds me of that place Luke Skywalker went to, to buy that space ship, with all those different intergalactic aliens. (Any one know what it was called?) After months of beauroctratic paperwork, rendez vous with people who don't turn up and renting from an unpleasant woman for a large amount of money, we bought ourselves a villa. This was not in the plan as we didn't want to tie up our capital in a home. I now realise it is one of the best things we could have done. When you've had a really difficult day here to be able to close the door and relax in your own place really balances you.

Zamzam Riad & Spa was eventually created out of love and we hope you will come and stay and be pampered in our luxury boutique riad.



Creating the Guest House

We had decided to buy land and build a country guesthouse as per our business plan, about 10 double rooms and suites. The dream was to create a holistic retreat and build our house on the same plot. We were going to have an organic vegetable garden and provide a Moroccan Spa.

Land in Marrakech at that time, went mad. Prices going up daily, lots of people fishing but not really wanting to sell. There is also a problem here of title. ie not much land is titled and to buy land without a title is very difficult, unless you have a lot of time on your hands and like a gamble. We looked at more land than you can shake a stick at, drank more mint tea than you can imagine and got totally no where. It can take weeks to even get a price. You may be being shown a piece of land that isn't for sale or has already been sold. After a year of this we said 'that is it!, we are buying a riad!'

I had a total nervous breakdown and couldn't talk to anyone for three days. He then said this doesn't have to be the end....... It wasn't I have now built an Ecological Camp Adounia in the Sahara Desert!