God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensée of a Catholic priest

Day 20: 6th May 2011

The guerrillas have finally stopped us. Because it is too dangerous to drive at night through the disputed territory we sleep at a petrol station 100 km before the border to Ecuador. Even the police are not willing to enter the “danger zone” at night. After a couple of hours of sleep we are on the road again in the early morning of Friday; but not before we sang a “Happy Birthday” for our birthday boy Stefan, the priest, who turned 51 years old this very day.

From Popayan we drive via Posta to the border close to Ipialu. The road is an on-going serpentine, right, left, right, spiced up with gravel and disappearing road parts and potholes of enormous sizes. Heavy Lorries and buses, mostly technical old-timers, create a constant line of cars behind them and we are waiting for the next chance to overtake without causing any accidents. But each time we passed such a line we have peace for a while.

And the surroundings are marvellous – the landscape becomes a real thrill for everybody accept Max and Uwe. They continue to look like they will start to cry at any given moment: so many motives to do photos or to film but no time for it. And indeed one can only admire the breath-taking landscape. Green mountains, rivers, deep valleys, waterfalls, all what nature has to offer until the horizon.

In the early afternoon we arrive at the border post between Colombia and Ecuador. And we are lucky, all paper work is done within two hours. But there is unfortunately no official meeting in Quito – we are here on the day of a national referendum regarding several changes of the constitution, so no assemblies allowed. A real pity as the German Embassy originally had planned a day of action with kids in the capital.

Nevertheless we fight our way through the heavy traffic till Quito, where our first guests wait to be part of the expedition for a couple of days:  Mohammed “Mocca” Errahmouni and Oliver Schilz will be with us till Buenos Aires, both are employees of the “Provinzal” insurance company, which had an internal competition giving away this opportunity to be part of moving the world in persona. They have just arrived in Quito and now they meet with us together with Sebastian Jaramillo, who is importing the Volkswagen brand into Ecuador. He also gives permission to camp on the grounds of VW Quito.

But before we go to sleep for a couple of hours, we cross the road to the pizza restaurant to celebrate our birthday boy and to welcome our new part time expedition members. They have to learn quickly about expedition tradition – and the first night in the roof tent gives them a first taste of it. Expedition is no holiday, right!

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HIV, AIDS and HOPE – thoughts of a Catholic priest

Being a Roman - Catholic priest and working in the fields of HIV and AIDS in Africa is often a challenge. Living in Africa has also its challenges. On the other hand I feel very much blessed having all the three. So you will find stories and reflections about my work, about the church, South Africa and Africa and essential information and developments in the field of HIV and AIDS. And in between personal stories and thoughts. You are most welcome to leave a comment or to get in touch with me - blogs - "thinking loud" so to speak is a ways of communication and exchange of ideas.

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© Rev Fr Stefan Hippler and HIV, AIDS and HOPE.
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