The Vanishing

Rio Magdalena

Last Friday, I met with the jurors of the creative writing contest at my son’s elementary school; I have sponsored this event for the past three years. In the fourth grade stories’ pile, there was one handwritten in blue ink. The title was “Carito“–short for Carolina in my home country, Colombia.

Immediately, I remembered the name of a famous song and thought: “I bet this is has something to do with Colombia“. I was right.

The author (names are kept hidden during the selection process) tells the story of a young girl, loved by her parents. Due to their precarious financial situation, the father had to go to work at a lumber plantation far from home.

He writes to his wife every week, religiously. Suddenly, the letters stop, and the mother fears the worst. The Colombian armed conflict is ramping up throughout the area, yet the mother decides to travel with her daughter and search for him. When they arrive at the plantation, they only find his personal belongings. His co-workers confirm that he vanished without a trace.

The narrator continues the story, saying that mother and daughter continue their lives without their beloved husband and father, working hard, and dreaming about a better future. At the end, a rhetorical question: “Do you know who this girl was? She is my mother“. I choked while my eyes filled with tears.

“Carito” was unanimously declared the fourth grade winner. The awards ceremony is on the 30th of January, and I can’t wait to meet the young writer who touched our hearts.

Forced disappearance of people has been utilized systematically in Latin America, especially during the autocracies in South America and the armed conflict in Colombia.

In Argentina, it is estimated that, between 1976 and 1983 more than twenty-five thousand people were forcibly disappeared by the military dictatorship and the government’s force known as Triple A.

In Colombia, after half a century, the number is more than triple. According to the official  National Historic Memory Center’s data, 84,472 victims have been registered, of which 79,245 were civilians, and 1,221 combatants. The presumed perpetrators are para-military forces (26,284 cases), guerrillas (10,441), post-peace accord groups (2,541), and law enforcement and military forces (2,401) (See illustration).

When the body count is so high, warlords prefer to vanish the corpses in an effort to erased them from their conscience, if they have any. Although forced disappearance of people is a coward’s tool, it is greatly effective to root terrorism in a population controlled by fear.

The topics chosen by the other participants were about animals, intergalactic adventures, and princesses. All appropriate and predictable for third, fourth, and fifth graders. Nonetheless, the author of “Carito” chose to share a subject extremely advanced for her young age and alien to the American society.

The author paid homage to her mother and grandmother, who by example taught her the courage to write the story. And to her grandfather, who will always live in their memory.

Thank you for reading and sharing.

Xiomara Spadafora

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this publication are the author’s and are not influenced by paid sponsors or advertisers. The author is not responsible for the comments generated in the open forum of Good Crazy Woman. All copy rights reserved. 

Sing when you are up to your neck in mud

green leafy plant starting to grow on beige racks
Photo by on

Two days ago, I watched a viral commencement address by Naval Admiral William H. McRaven at the University of Texas in 2014. The title of the speech is, “Change the World.” The voice and demeanor of the Admiral in uniform–besides the numerous medals on his chest–are an unmistakable display of leadership.

Nonetheless, what moved the audience that day, and continues to awe people worldwide on the internet, are his words and the essence of his message. This is my favorite part:

If I have learned anything in my time traveling the world, it is the power of hope. The power of one person, a Washington, a Lincoln, King, Mandela, and even a young girl from Pakistan, Malala. One person can change the world by giving people hope. So, if you want to change the world, start singing when you are up to your neck in mud.” (Click here to watch the full video) Continue reading “Sing when you are up to your neck in mud”

Not everybody gets a second chance

two person doing surgery inside room
Photo by Vidal Balielo Jr. on

Last week, the details of the first double lung transplant to a 17 year-old due to vaping were revealed. The procedure took place on October 15th at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit. Although the identity of the patient is being kept anonymous, the hospital shared a written statement from the family.

First, they underscored that the effects of vaping are real. They described their son as a regular, young athlete, who went to school, socialized with friends, and played video games. But one day, he woke up breathing with a pair of lungs that were not his own. (See the hospital press release) Continue reading “Not everybody gets a second chance”

An Oath of Gratitude


This post was originally published last December, but the story is timeless. I want to salute our troops and thank them for their service, today and always. X.S.

Sgt. Lippencott is a father of four. He joined the Marine Corps in 1996 in Chantilly, VA, and since then, he has completed seven tours of duty to Iraq and Afghanistan for the operations Iraq Freedom, Enduring Freedom, and New Dawn. He is planning his retirement for June next year after almost 23 years of service.

Needless to say, the wounds of his sacrifice to defend our country’s freedom are not only the ones he bares on his body, but also the ones on his soul.

After our first visit, I emailed Sgt. Lippencott and asked him a couple of questions to write this blog. The first one was, what would you say to a seven-year-old boy’s mother, like me, if my son decides to enlist in the military in the future? I asked him this because when we met, he said that he never thought about joining the military. His answer brought me to tears. Continue reading “An Oath of Gratitude”

Divide and conquer

Hilda Molina

Last Sunday, October 27th, Argentina elected Alberto Fernandez as its new president; he will take office on December 10th. Nonetheless, his triumph has not been the main focus of the media spotlight. Center stage is the return of the controversial and former president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner as his V.P.

Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner became the first female president of Argentina in 2007 succeeding her husband, Nestor Kirchner; she was re-elected for a second term. Together, The Kirchners became the power couple of the Judicialist Party, amassing twelve years in office from 2003 to 2015.

The center left elected government will face the challenge to steer the third largest economy in Latin America with inflation over 50%, US$100 billion in foreign debt, and more than 30% of its population in poverty, according to Argentinian media outlets.

The results of this election have sent shock waves across the markets. Why? Perhaps it is the phantom of Fidel Castro’s ideology that haunts Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. Continue reading “Divide and conquer”

Taking a deep breath

backlit beach dawn dusk
Photo by Cedric Lim on

Last year, my eight-year-old son started struggling with his second-grade math. For a few days, I felt as if our kitchen table transformed into a Medieval torture dungeon while doing homework. Who would have thought that the unanswered 3+2 question could trigger so much anxiety?

Once I decided to stop inflicting pain on myself and causing my son’s irreversible psychological damage–imagine his face trying to understand mathematics smothered in a thick Spanish accent–I searched and found a tutoring facility close to home.

After I dropped him off for his first session, I noticed the yoga studio* next door and realized that I too, needed some tutoring. The next Thursday, and almost every Thursday since then, I have been religiously practicing yoga with one simple goal: taking a deep breath from life. Continue reading “Taking a deep breath”

The real clown is Hollywood

Photo: @JokerMovie Twitter

Last week, there was a controversy in the U.S. that had nothing to do with President Trump. I’m not kidding. It was in reference to the premiere of the film Joker next Friday, October 4th. (See trailer)

In April 1940, DC Comics introduced the Joker, a bank robber with clown grandeur. However, throughout the years, the creators of Batman’s arch-enemy transformed the character into a psychopath with genocidal desires capable of the most abhorrent acts.

In the 2008 version, The Dark Knight, the Joker was played by Australian actor Heath Ledger, who died from a prescription drug overdose a few months after finishing the movie. Continue reading “The real clown is Hollywood”