Monday, December 24, 2012

Excuse me?! Bing Crosby and WHO??!!

OK, right off the bat, I had my reasons for the search; on the other hand, I have the right to remain silent as to what they were.  Luckily for us, iTunes comes through loud and clear in Colombia.  
Now, sure, you've got the Vienna Boys' Choir, 
and you've got the country version,
and he was Cuban-born, so Jose Feliciano did it Latino-style.
However, as I searched in to the distant, fuzzy edges of iTunes, I felt myself sliding in to a different dimensional reality.  The Klezmonauts?  On "Oy to the World?"  Really?  "The Little Drummer Boy??!!"
And then it got weird.  While The Tabernacle Choir tried to reach me through the time-space warp, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, John Tesh and Celtic Thunder flashed by, all singing about the young fellow and his rhythmic offering.
As the versions of "The Little Drummer Boy" passed 2,000 (I am not making that up), the numbers on the iTunes meter began to blur as they scrolled faster and faster.  Suddenly, through the purplish haze, I could hear the guitar wailing.  "No, no!" I cried out.
Then, all became silent.  As in a dream, the sound rose from a whisper, gradually rising to an unearthly duet.  "It couldn't be..." I thought.  "No, really, it shouldn't be!"
And yet it was! 
This part, I am not making up either.  It was David Bowie and Bing Crosby, same song, complete with a reference to a video of the same unholy mashup.
I backed slowly away from the computer, then ran to the fuse box and threw the circuit breaker.  Just in time!  The world stopped spinning and came to a shuddering halt.  It was still Christmas Eve!  I had a chance to repent and look for something else on iTunes!
We hope that your Christmas Eve is going better than this, and that, with family gathered about, you have a Merry and warm Christmas.
Dave & Paula

Thursday, December 20, 2012


First of all, let me state that I have no desire whatsoever to be mayor of Bogotá, an unruly, sprawling megalopolis of 13 million people.  They probably wouldn't vote for an aging gringo anyway.
But they did vote for Gustavo Petro, a former member of the M-19 urban guerrilla group, which group laid down their arms and decided to join the political process in the 90's.
While Petro has definite left-leaning tendencies, he is also considered a progressive, and in a lot of ways is trying to shove Bogotá screaming and kicking in to the mainstream of the modern world.
However, the trash pick-up companies of the city dug in their heels at his plan to municipalize them, attempting to turn their employees in to city workers.  Their tactic was simple, predictable and smelled pretty bad.
The other part of the mayor's plan was to institute recycling, whether you want it or not.  However, the plan didn't include the trucks needed or other infrastructure, just the decree.
There are approximately 11,000 'recicladores,' or folks who make their living off of doing just what Mayor Petro is trying to get Bogotanos to do by his mandate - separating their recyclables from other garbage.  They make the rounds of the garbage containers in town and load their horse carts,
and push carts,
and search the nooks and crannies,
and in the end do a remarkably efficient job at turning in recyclables, while eking out an admittedly tough living.
In the end, with the garbage quickly piling up, the trash fight ended by the mayor returning things to their previous state, but with the vow to keep trying.
One commentary read, "The recycling plan looks doomed to failure, not only because Bogotanos just aren't used to separating their trash [themselves], [but they] aren't used to following government instructions."  Bogotanos??!!  NO!!
We hope that your trash (and your recyclables) are moving along at the proper pace.
Dave & Paula

Thursday, December 13, 2012

How do YOU spell "Hippy-Hoppa?"

Apparently, there are two ways to write the name of this surprisingly pleasant medium-sized town in northwest Ecuador, which we briefly visited to check on a missionary.  The first is the more common:
The second is more interesting and certainly less pronounceable.
We also found the inspiration for any anthropomorphic (person-like) trees in the Ceibo pronounced "Say-bo" for all you Jipijapans, which is the official national tree.  We would suppose that the Ecuadorian countryside gets downright spooky on a full moon when these guys start walking around.
Our visits to the missionaries brought us to the seaside town of Bahía ("Bay") where we spent a pleasant night in a near-abandoned hotel, and squeezed in a walk on the beach before night fell.
Back in Guayaquil, we had the honor of presenting the usual, scintillating PowerPoints (see "GI Distress, Ingrown Toenails; gross presentations concerning") to the missionaries in that city.  However, the missionaries were rescued from sheer PowerPoint boredom by the fact that it's Christmas.
The missionaries had a good time with their presentations, and visiting with each other and their great Mission President and his wife.
We were also able to attend the beautiful Guayaquil Temple with the group.  And yes, I have sunscreen on that bald head.  They don't call it Ecuador ("Equator") for nothing.
So, we're back in good-old chilly, rainy Bogotá, trying to ignore the guys banging and chipping on the roof.  It was a rich and instructive trip and luckily, the missionaries are doing well health-wise.
We hope that your trees don't start walking around.  Too much.
Dave & Paula

Saturday, December 8, 2012

OK, take one city off the "have to see" list

We are once again on the road, this time to help chase down contacts of a sick missionary with a communicable disease and have them all tested.  This has brought us to Portoviejo, Ecuador, which as you're aware, is known as "The City of the Royal Tamarind Trees," though looking out the window, I can't see one for the life of me.
So, we flew to Guayaquil, stayed overnight with the Mission President, then got on the bus to Portoviejo.  Paula had to make sure that the curtains were straight. 
The two young missionary Assistants to the President, didn't seem as worried about the whole curtain-straight thing.
I must say that the four-hour bus ride was enchanting.  I must say that or the Ecuadorian Department of Tourism will revoke my visa.  Actually, it was not, and the violent (and most likely pirated) DVD of some regrettable export of American culture that was playing on the bus wasn't either. 
Portoviejo has had some tough times, but is coming back as a center of agriculture for the region. How can you not like a place with an angel guarding the local mall?
 We gathered up those who had some risk, and told them about what they had to do.  This picture was taken BEFORE they were informed.
 We guarded the exits at the clinic.
Everyone survived, with strict instructions to not go into too gory details in their weekly letter home to their mother.
So, what do you do in Portoviejo while waiting for results?  Well, you can hang out at La Casa Del Guardafango, or 'The House of the Mudflap.'
Or head across the street from our hotel with your squeaky moto to La Esquina del Lubricante, or 'Lubrication Corner.'
Or (duh!) you catch up on your sleep!
We hope that your test results come back negative, also.  
And by the way, sadly for the Portoviejo tourism folks, you can probably drop if from the list.
Dave & Paula