I've been told that President Uribe's policy of democratic security has made the cities here safer and the countryside more dangerous. The result is that you can live most of the time in Medellin without the reality of Colombia's conflict impinging on you at all, if you ignore the ragged, displaced people at the traffic lights begging for help in their mispelled signs. But every so often something happens to make you aware that this is a country still suffering an extremely damaging civil conflict. Here are three examples. On television, between adverts for shampoo and breakfast cereals, there are adverts calling members of the armed groups to demobilize, with the slogan demobilization is the way out. Rummaging among the toys in a shop on the coast, I found a little model plastic soldier with what I took to be a mine-detector in his hand, part of the landscape in a country with the third greatest number of land-mines in the world. And finally, the anti-explosive dog in the picture playing his part in keeping the crowds safe during Medellin's spectacular flower festival in August. And how do Colombians cope with the war as an ever-present backdrop to their lives? By laughing. They are the most cheerful people I have ever met and they can laugh at anything. Is this evidence of the triumph of the human spirit in the face of adversity or a dysfunctional response, storing up psychological problems for generations to come? I can't quite decide.