Friday, November 30, 2012

News Flash: Paula attacks Bogotá taxista!

I am sooo glad to not own a car here in Bogotá, making me one of the 85% of the 13 million  folks in town who depend on their feet, the buses, the TransMilenio and, of course, the taxis.
At last count, there are 40,000 of the little yellow beasts here, which number is controlled by the ownership of a cupo, the city's permission to drive maniacally, creatively make lanes where they don't exist, honk the horn continuously, and do it all cheerfully while counseling your passengers on how to avoid bad taxi drivers.  All for a controlled, and lousy fee.  And by the way, most drive for 12 hours a day, 6 days per week.  And by the way #2, the cupo now is bought and sold for around 75 million pesos, or about $40,000.00 US, which is about four times the cost of the little yellow beast itself.  
When I ask them, the average tenure of the taxi driver is about 8 years, ranging from zero to 37.  We found the zero yesterday.   
A disgruntled previous passenger warned us as he disembarked, "He doesn't know where he is."
Surely, we thought, a taxi driver?  Not know where he is?  Pfff!
He didn't have a Bogotá clue.  We were in no particular hurry, I remembered the first day on many jobs, and I had sympathy for a fellow newbie and human being.
But no, not a clue did he possess.  When I directed him to head generally toward the left, he made for the right, finally completing a giant circle, all the while the meter ticking off its digital accounting.  
When we finally arrived, the charitable feelings were about shot.  I asked what the fare would be, and without even looking at the fare card, he answered "ten mil pesos."
OK, I admit it.  This is only a representation of the actual event.  I was too busy trying to grab Paula's hands as they went for the guy's neck, and I couldn't reach the camera.  I don't know what the penalty here in Colombia is for assault with intent to kill , but I wasn't about to find out.
I tossed the guy five mil pesos, which was about 20% over what it should have been and departed the vehicle.  A couple of buckets of cold water over her head, and Paula was like brand new.  
We hope that your taxi drivers know where they are, wherever they are.
Dave & Paula

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving?! OK, so I'm thankful for drugs.

Thanksgiving has a long and fabricated history in the United States.
It's all based on a single letter by a guy describing a three-day harvest gorge, in which the newcomers and the locals ate as much as they could from the fall surplus before it all spoiled.  Someone rhapsodized about it in 1821, Lincoln made it official in 1862, and the rest is, you know, bad for the turkeys, great for commerce and family gatherings.
Here in Colombia, with its interesting history, folks are usually just thankful to be alive and have some arepas on the table, much less the repast portrayed above.  Also, there are already 20 (that's two-zero) official national holidays, most pegged to a religious occurrence or personage about whom no one remembers or cares, but hey, it's a day off.  
So, how did we celebrate Thanksgiving?
With a Colombian colonoscopy, of course!  Duh!!
That picture, of a TV celebrity having his American colonoscopy, and I'll bet it wasn't on Thanksgiving, has gotta be fake.  The guy is awake, everyone is having fun, etc.
Anyway, for reasons that will become clear later (nothing bad, never fear), I needed to have it done, it was all normal, and since you'll probably (remember, "never say never 'bout nothin'") have a colonoscopy in Bogotá, we'll leave it at that.  I'll just say that I'm thankful for drugs.
Next year, I think I'll have, hmmm, a root canal!!
May your holidays go better than that.
Dave & Paula

Addendum:  OK, I've got to be fair.  We got together with some other gringos the previous Monday and had turkey.  Now that's off my conscience.  Second thought, next year maybe I'll do hair transplants.  

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Through the teeth, over the gums, look out stomach...Hey!! Did that ant just move??!!

We knew that the Morenos were coming over, and we finally, really had to eat the ants.
So, who was going eat an ant first?  Many such important decisions are made with a coin toss.
This one was made in a far more democratic, reasonable way.  It was my camera, so she had to go first.
I tried to be encouraging.  "Gallina!  Gallina!"  ("Chicken!  Chicken!")
 Her sense of adventure just stuck out all over.
 You could almost feel her expectation of gustatory delight.
And then it was over.  A few tentative crunches, and "Ah, they're not that bad.  OK, Big Guy, you're up!"
Being the man, I of course had to show the stony machismo that I was made of.
 OK, they really weren't that bad.  Kind of like crunchy small popcorn.  With antennae.  And legs.
 I survived!  Of course, I knew all along I would.
Whew!  We told the Morenos with a straight face that we had downed the crispy little critters, and they were so delighted they promised to bring us more!
We hope that you get to try something new today also.
Dave & Paula

Monday, November 12, 2012

One of these days, we have to eat these ants.

Culona ants, that is.  Great big suckers that are fried and munched in the Santender district (state) of Colombia, and are considered a real delicacy.  
As luck would have it, the nice adult missionary couple from Bucaramanga brought some back for us.  "Gee, whiz!  Thanks!  We'll, uh, have to try those."
And so, they have sat guiltily for a couple of weeks (do ants get better if they're aged?).
Unfortunately, the Morenos are being sent to San Gil next week, so we really, really have to eat these ants so that we can give them an honest answer.  
We hope that your neighbors aren't from someplace where they eat bumble bees.  Or slugs or something.   
Dave & Paula

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Shopleaving - is it really a crime?

I've never shoplifted anything.  Really.  A couple of months ago, we hung some curtain rods, and ended up with an extra sealed package of ceiling-hanger thingies.  By the time we got around to taking them back to the Home Center store (no, that's not a translation, it's just Home Center), it wasn't worth printing out the receipt from the scanned files and standing in line at the service desk and then embarrassing myself with my Spanish and giving the clerk another reason to laugh at the old gringos.
we just put them back.  
Now, we're guilty of shopleaving.  Some guy in the Inventory Department is going to sweat reconciling the numbers when it comes out that they have one too many packs of gold curtain rod hanger thingies.
We hope you don't get caught, either.
Dave & Paula

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Quito?! Neato!!

The 25 Mission Presidents in the South America Northwest (or was it the North America Southwest?) Area meet twice a year for instruction, and to briefly catch their breath.  This fall the meeting was held in Quito, Ecuador, this being a central location for Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela, the five countries that comprise the Area. 
I am kindly included along with the other Area Medical Advisor in Lima, because, uh, well, because the Handbook of Instructions says that we're supposed to be included.  So there.
Actually, it gave me a chance to speak briefly to the whole group, and to touch bases with all of "my" Mission Presidents, and more importantly, their wives, with whom I interact frequently.
We're in there, in the back somewhere, in the Not Really a Mission President row.  
Most of the three days were taken up in instruction.  However, that didn't preclude taking advantage of the hotel's nice exercise facilities.
Or the nice pool, though it had to be early morning.  And yes, that's a shower cap.  And yes, I'll probably pay for publishing that picture.
One day we were able to see a few sights, including the Equator in Ecuador, and yes, that's why it's named that way.
 However, I was not allowed to buy a "Zero Latitude - Zero Attitude" t-shirt.  Bummer.
The llama visit was de rigueur.
All in all, an enriching seminar and visit in a beautiful place.
We hope that you are doing well, and can find a better looking bathing cap than that.
Dave & Paula