We're a little bummed that we'll be in Barranquilla and Sincelejo for Thanksgiving, as the North American senior missionaries in Bogotá are planning a big turkey dinner followed by leftovers and football games. However, duty calls.
They really go all out here, and start early. This apartment building is already dolled up with fake log cabin appurtenances around the windows and what look like polar bears walking among the fake evergreens.
The city is meanwhile starting to get decorated for the real holiday - Christmas!
Paying the light bill, we ran in to Santa Claus, who looks like he's been trimming down a little - I dunno, maybe he walks a lot, like everyone else in Colombia, to deliver stuff to the little kids.
This one was a little worrisome, but hey, I'm just a visitor. It looks like Santa(s) are rappelling down from this high-rise apartment, complete with animals. I considered calling the cops, thinking perhaps we were witnessing pet larceny, but was reassured by a friend that it was just a bizarre example of Christmas decorating.
Anyway, I'm told that we have seen only the teeniest tip of the proverbial iceberg. The kids here are out of school from mid-November to mid-February. Because the seasons don't really change, I guess they figure that centering vacation around Christmas is as good as any other time, and family trips and vacations tend to be taken during this time. Students are also given a month off in June-July.
We are also told, and have come to easily believe, that the already chaotic traffic gets even worse at this time of the year. This was a side street a couple of days ago from another apartment.
Also, don't even think of sending us that expensive gift you had in mind. For instance, if you were thinking of sending me Led Zeppelin IV, to which I probably shouldn't listen anyway, figuring I'm a missionary for a couple of years, the following charges would apply from Amazon.com:
the disk itself - $10.84 USD (Wow - these guys' cachet must be evaporating!)
import tax to Colombia - $14.63 USD (we call this an "import tax" as opposed to the much uglier "bribe")
shipping (and this is where they really chomp down) - $32.98 USD
Grand Total - $58.45.
OK, for 3,000 Colombian pesos (about $1.62 USD), I can buy a perfectly good pirated copy of the same album, so really, it doesn't make any sense. What we really want for Christmas is that you continue to read the blog, and send us a note from time to time.
Dave & Paula