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Archive for March, 2008

Adventures in Colombia

Seth’s parents arrived on the 12th of March. We went out of town for an overnight with them last Friday night to Guasca which is about an hour north of Bogota. We stayed in a beautiful, quaint little bungalow-type place that his parents had read about in the Chronicle. It was in a valley surrounded by beautiful mountains. The rooms were nice with little fireplaces to keep them warm and little vases of fresh roses. We tried their famous recipes for dinner and met the owners from Houston.

As we walked around the first day I told Seth we should just go ahead and stay another night since it was so nice. That was before we went to bed. A man came in to build our fire and we quickly realized that charcoal popping and flames flickering were something we were not used to sleeping with. Jackson was screaming and quite confused by the light show. We finally fell asleep. A couple of hours later I rolled over and saw Seth jump. I asked if he was ok, he said he had just been hit in the head by a june bug that had made a crash landing. We searched the bed and didn’t find it. A little unsettling but we tried to go back to sleep. A short time later I awoke to the sound of another approaching flying bug….I could hear it getting louder and louder as it approached. It thudded onto my pillow. As I laid there trying to ignore our situation I looked up to see the june bug propped up on my sheets right in front of my chin. As we fell asleep again, something caused the guard dogs to get excited and they stood outside our room for an hour “guarding us”. When the dogs quieted down we finally dosed off. At 3:30 AM, Jackson woke up just howling. He was still in the process of cutting his two bottom teeth. He was inconsolable for about an hour. It was about then that I told Seth that if his parents hadn’t been with us we would have loaded up the car and driven back to Bogota in the middle of the night. Their room was lovely and they slept great. Turns out our room had a crack in the wall significant enough that bugs, large bugs, could crawl right in. Ironically, we might go back in the future but we will for sure request a different room. Here are some snap shots from the weekend.

Reading with Mia…in Tech sweatshirt from Justin and HollySwinging with Grandan in the hammock in our room

stream near the hotelpassion flower in the garden

img_2889.jpgColombian guards “guarding our car”…they were at the hotel for a special event but hung around our car once they saw the Dip platesimg_2898.jpg

On Sunday afternoon we all went to the market in Usaquen. Joe met his first pig head and our beloved camera took a fateful fall. We bought an oil painting and “kind of” captured a picture with the painter.

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Our last picture

I made a comment to Seth that the more we leave “home” for our adventures, the more home feels like home. One last funny story on the home front…this week we requested a rug from the Embassy housing dept because Jackson will soon be crawling on our hardwoods and we want him to have a soft area to crawl. We were pleasantly surprised when the day we requested it they bustled over with a rug. I was on my way out the door so they convinced me that it was new and in great condition, we signed for it and rushed out the door. When we got home to roll the rug out it was more than damp. Sonia said, “they specifically said it wasn’t wet”. Now why would you ever think to say something is “not wet”. After a day and a half of propping the rug on 6 dining room chairs we called in and got them to switch out the “not wet” rug. Only in Colombia! Beware of people who warn you using such words.

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Just for fun

Lilypie 1st Birthday Ticker

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So as you can expect driving is an adventure here in Bogota. When our car arrived a few weeks ago I had visions of spending a few weeks doing leisurely Sunday drives with Seth encouraging me sweetly from the passenger’s seat. Now he has been sweet and encouraging but the practicing in this crazy city never occured. A week into the car sitting in the garage, I had a crazy morning and decided there was no way we would make it through the day without me driving. So, Jackson and I headed out. Not only is the traffic pretty heavy here, the people don’t have awareness of lines on the road, motorcycles don’t use lanes and you have to pull in backwards to every parking spot in case you need to evacuate your location quickly. The parking is a challenge because the spots are super tiny. Anyhow, we had a very successful first adventure and have had a few since then.

Today, however, I had my first “Colombian fender-bender”.  No fender was bent, no dent made, no scratch evident. But when a taxi cut me off, swerved in front and slammed on his breaks my car “tapped him”. There wasn’t actually a noise. My bumper is basically plastic. We (Sonia and I)  watched as he jumped out, saw that I had diplomatic plates and the drama began. I wouldn’t say he was a great actor but he drew a crowd nonetheless.  A homeless man without legs “rolled on over” (to quote Michael from the office) to offer his support. He, along with the cars full of people in the two lanes we were blocking, kept telling me that the guy just wanted my money. The taxi driver threw his arms up in the air a few times, pointed to a dent 5 inches above where my car was next to his (my car didn’t reach high enough to touch his car there unless I did a wheely that I wasn’t aware of). He kept demanding that I pay him. Finally, I said in Spanish, “sir, if you want to talk about this I will call my security guard from the Embassy and he will be happy to talk to you. But, sir, he is honest (implying that this man was not) so I don’t know if you want me to call him”. He threw up his arms, did a huge 3 year-old huff and ran back to his taxi.  Sonia stood trembling and the homeless man let out a cheer for our victory.  We actually have security guards that drive around the city in case this kind of situation happens.  If only they had driven by! I’m not sure the legless homeless man could have defended me much if I had needed that. He was encouraging but not ready to throw any punches.

We have collected a few pictures over the last few weeks of signs here in Bogota just to give you a feel for the driving culture.

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This sign can be seen from our apt window. We continue to look outside and wonder what it is signaling. We aren’t sure if it means that if we watch long enough we will see an accident. Instead of a speed limit sign to present the warning in a positive light they have chosen the negative  warning of “you will crash”.

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Another great sign. If you cross the road here, you will likely get hit. If you are a driver people will randomly run in front of you and you will hit them. In the states it’s a mom walking with her school age child. Not car-crashing and pedestrian-slaying.

Yep, that dog is doing exactly what you think it is

This isn’t a driving sign but a funny one! We see this sign frequently. Instead of a friendly sign saying that you need to clean up after your dog, they have illustrated it. No one can say, “clean up what?”

These are the things that make us realize that we are far from the USA!

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