Sunday, July 22, 2012

Independence Day! (Colombian Style)

So, the whole thing started over a flower vase, though not really.  As is frequently the case here, the whole thing was rigged.  
The locals were getting sick and tired of the Spanish, and the group of patriots (=hotheads) in Bogotá decided to stir things up.  So, they went over to Joaquín Gonzalez Llorente's bric-brac shop and asked if they could borrow a vase for a dinner they were going to hold for another local hothead.
They knew who they were bugging.  Really, it was a set-up.  They had picked Old Man Llorente because he was a Spanish merchant and also a mean guy, and they knew well and good he'd say no.  Which he did.  So, they hit the streets, now all riled up over the lack of flowers on the table.  
And because all of this happened on July 20th, 1810, we got the day off, and almost everyone else scrammed out of town for someplace warmer, I think.  Meanwhile, the porteros put up the Colombian flags on our empty street.
This whole vase-asking-refusing thing had very little to do with Simón Bolívar and all that happened several years down the road (see later entry), but it was the first time the good folks of Bogotá had openly revolted.  And some are still openly revolting, I might add.
But what if you're a Colombian Mormón, and you decided to stay put for Independence Day?  Well, after revolting, the next best thing is eating!
The Tierra Linda Ward, the congregation we attend, had a big get-together, to which everyone was to bring a typical dish from whatever country they originated.  It was varied, as we have someone from pretty much every country in Central and South America.  Paula, good American girl that she is, baked two apple pies.  They were declared, "Muy deliciosos!"
The Santendereanos (people from the state of Santender to the north of us) got together and made "mute"  (that's pronounced "Moo - tay").  I had a bowl-full, and was informed that it was a good batch of mute.  Yeah...OK.  However, I was also quietly informed by a non-Santendereano that I should not ask the identity of the "meat" floating around in it.  Double OK on that one.  Better not to know.     
The Peruvians brought something with potatoes,
 while the Mexicans brought (wait for it, wait for it..) TACOS!
 We were made to wear funny Colombian hats while everyone laughed and took pictures.
All in all, a good social day, with some interesting food.
But really, if someone wants to borrow a flower vase, just lend the silly thing.  They could have avoided a lot of trouble.
We hope your hats are even half this attractive next Colombian Independence Day!
Dave & Paula

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Uptight American expats advised to "Lose the watch, amigo!"

OK, I'll admit that this whole time-zone thing can be confusing.  We have to calculate ten hours difference to Azerbaijan when talking to Ashley.  Mike is six hours different, living south of London almost directly on the famous line running through Greenwich.
However, I must be missing something.  For instance, the party at the neighbors' began yesterday afternoon, and at 7:30 this morning, was still going strong.  
On another occasion, friends of ours here  were invited to a wedding, and were reassured that yes, it started at 7:00 PM.   
At 9:00 PM, no one had shown up, though a few arrived by 9:15.  The food made it by 11:00 PM.
To be fair, on a doctor appointment the other day we only waited an hour, which is on par for  a lot of offices in the U.S., I'm sorry to say.
On the other hand, church starts on time!
I guess it will just take a while to learn which time zone we are in for what.  I was looking at a watch the other day...
...maybe not.
Well, we hope that the time-space continuum in your particular sector is more predictable.
Dave & Paula

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Heat wave?! I don't THINK so!!

Perhaps I'm being a bit unsympathetic to the plight of much of the continental US of A this evening.  However, if you look closely in the photograph, you'll notice the following items:  a) the Duke sweatshirt (go Devils), b) the blankets, c) the Peru hat (good for more than just a fashion accessory), d) the wife huddled close, wearing a turtle neck and a jacket, and finally, our trusty Samurai 1500 space heater, the use of which will probably add a half-million pesos to this month's electrical bill.  
What you don't see, and heaven help us that you or anyone else may never see, is one of the good-golly, jumpin' Jehoshephat, cross-my-heart-and-hope-to-die ugliest pair of sweat pants that your mother ever shoplifted from Target.  ("Hey!  They're better than the blue ones that looked like bloomers!"  She got me on that one.)
May all of our weather moderate toward a happy medium, and may Paula take my advice and leave those things in Bogotá!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Be careful who you let in your kitchen!

Grant and Annette Hacking finished their three-year assignment as Mission President on June 30th.  In every Mission, there are a couple of missionaries assigned to be Assistants to the President, and several others who manage rent payments, visas and other necessary support items.
These guys wanted to fix dinner for the Hackings, and Paula volunteered her kitchen.  
Potential big mistake. 
Actually, they did pretty well,
 and yucking around.
They dragged in the extra table,
 and set the tables carefully.
Unfortunately, the food and company were so good that I forgot to take pictures.  The following will serve as simulations of the actual dinner: 

I think you get the picture.  It all went well, and at 9:00 PM, the missionaries went home before they "turned in to pumpkins," leaving the guests of honor to do the dishes.
Overall, a successful evening, with the missionaries doing their heartfelt best to honor the Hackings.  
We hope that your dinners do well, and that your guests do the cleanup, too.
Dave & Paula

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Just in case this also happens

Wow!  We heard about the huge storm on the East Coast and the terrific damage it caused.  
Meanwhile here in Colombia, Nevada del Ruiz, a volcano about 90 miles from here, has been threatening for a while, becoming more active this week.  (Actual picture taken 19 hours ago)
In case you have the same problem up there this coming week (and boy would THAT be a double bummer), here are some suggestions, among others, from El Tiempo, the big Colombia newspaper.
"1. Close doors and windows and secure with tape."  (Unless you want to get out of your house because there's a really big scary volcano nearby making ugly noises.)
"2. Protect sensitive electronics until the environment is completely free of ash." (Unless you have your iPad already under your armpit and you're running like crazy from a really big scary volcano nearby now making very ugly noises.)
"3. Stay calm."  Excuse me?!  
"4. Stay informed by listening to local radio stations about the eruption."  (Unless, of course you see something like the picture above (19 hours ago), in which case you probably already have that radio under the armpit on the other side from the iPad, and are making serious tracks in the opposite direction.) 
"5. Do not wear contact lenses because of the possibility of corneal abrasions."  (Great. Now you'll probably run slam into a tree and drop the iPad.)
"6. You may eat vegetables from your garden, previously washed."  (Yeah, of course wash those vegetables as your neighbors are skeedaddling past your house yelling and screaming.)
"7. Put ashes in plastic bags."  (You can probably use the neighbors', because they already skeedaddled.)
"8. Clean surfaces with a sponge or cloth soaked in detergent, tapping the surface, do not rub."  (Very important; do not rub. You may anger the Volcano and Formica spirits.)
"9. Clean your computer or appliance using the vacuum." (see #2)
"10. Do not wet the ashes. This may form a hard mass, and cause the roof to collapse."  Oh, yeah, the roof may collapse.  
Stay tuned for more instructions from your computer.  Unless, you know, #2 above.
Meanwhile, may your local volcanoes stay quiet.