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food / travel

No Gold Mine? No Problem For Colombia's Cajamarca Region

After voting to ban metals mining, residents in the mountainous area west of Bogota are staking their future on farming and tourism.

in Cajamarca
in Cajamarca
Juan Miguel Hernández Bonilla

CAJAMARCA — Reaching the Vargas family home, on the Bellavista estate in the pine-covered mountains of Cajamarca, is no easy task. After driving for a good half-hour along a dusty, unpaved road, visitors then have to leave their car with the neighbors and walk a few more kilometers up a track leading from the road to the mountain-top homes of hundreds of peasants.

But it's well worth the trek. Hidden in the department of Tolima, the area is like an agricultural Eden. The banks of the Anaime river are banana trees and coffee shrubs, purple-leaf acacia and orchids. A few meters further up there are vines of beans, peas and passionfruit. And in the highest parts of the mountain range, at 2,500 meters above sea level, potatoes, passion flower, blackberries and a variety of edible roots, such as arracacha. Scientists and farmers agree that over time, ash from the nearby Machín volcano enriched the local soil and made it one of the continent's most fertile areas.

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Russia

When Mom Believes Putin: A Russian Family Torn Apart Over Ukraine Invasion

Sisters Rante and Satu Vodich fled Russia because they could no longer bear to live under Putin — but their mother believes state propaganda about the war. Her daughters are building a new life for themselves in Georgia.

A mother and her daughter on a barricade in Kyiv

Steffi Unsleber

TBILISI — On a gloomy afternoon in May, Rante Vodich gets the keys to her new home. A week earlier, the 27-year-old found this wooden shed in Tbilisi, with a corrugated iron roof and ramshackle bathroom. The shed next door houses an old bed covered in dust. Vodich refers to the place as a “studio” and pays $300 per month in rent. She says finding the studio is the best thing that’s happened to her since she came to Georgia. It is her hope for the future.

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Her younger sister Satu Vodich is around 400 kilometers further west, in the city of Batumi on Georgia’s Black Sea coast, surrounded by Russian tourists, Ukrainian flags, skyscrapers with sea views and the run-down homes of local residents.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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