12/17/2007 07:43 pm ET Updated 4 days ago

Travel Pics Not in the Guidebook: Imagine Being a Kid in Colombia

As a lifelong fan of the crudely named and endlessly frustrating Cleveland Indians, I couldn't help but smile to see that folks in Colombia are also willing to turn fellow human beings into mascots for a team that never wins the title.

Ladies and gentlemen, the last-place Cartagena Indians:


The kids reminded me of my own friends when we were that age. And Cleveland Stadium was about as well-kept back then, too.

However, my friends and I never had our psyches gently pummeled quite like this:


Those are three beautiful Colombian children playing with Santa Claus. Right next to a sign twice as big as they are, urgently warning families to stop paying kidnappers.

Can you imagine growing up with that? What would that have done to how you feel about yourself and the world?

I don't even pretend to know the answer for myself.