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Sunday, June 30, 2013


I did not expect leaving Colombia to be an emotional experience.  Maybe it was the several weeks of non-stop going, or the continual goodbyes, or the stress of packing all our stuff up once again and sending it off in four shipments, or trying to stuff the remaining items into 10 suitcases and 5 carry ons, or waking up at 3:00 am to be ready for the shuttle pick-up at 3:30 but I was not prepared for the rush of emotions that hit me  as I left the building.
With the kids downstairs ready to go I took one final walk around the now empty apartment and began to cry.  By the time I made it to the elevator I was in full-blown sobbing mode. Chad asked me if I wanted to take a moment to collect myself but I shook my head knowing there was no stopping the water works that had already begun.
I stepped into the lobby and saw the Portero who has been there every day for two years opening the door for me and smiling at my feeble Spanish attempts.  I walked over to him to thank him but instead flung myself into his arms in a big, American bear hug.  This was no polite, social Colombian kiss on the cheek.  I actually think it was more appropriate for my Americaness to come out at this point rather than trying to stay within Colombian custom.  He was so kind as he let me sob my eyes out on his shoulder.
As we drove away the finalness of our life in Colombia really hit me.  I sniffed and let the tears leak out all the way to the airport.  Although it was not my favorite place, I realize the importance of the growth our family experienced during this time and the benefits to other members of my family.  
Adios Colombia.

Monday, June 24, 2013

How we knew we were back in America

We knew we were back in America for our first meal when:
1.  We had to wait 10 minutes to be seated.
2.  The menu was in English - I actually knew every ingredient in every dish before I ordered!  This actually became a time intensive process as I slowly read every item and and imagined every combination of flavors before deciding.  
3.  We could order our dish without sour cream and it actually came that way!
4. There was no Limonada de Coco on the menu.  I am seriously craving that drink!
5.  The wait staff was overly happy hoping for a good tip.
6.  All our food was brought at once - no one had to eat alone.
7.  The portions were huge - our whole family could have shared one meal!
8.  The check was shoved under our nose the moment the last bite of food touched our lips. Of course the disclaimer "whenever you are ready" accompanied it, but we knew they wanted to hustle us out the door.

It's good to be home!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

You Don't See That Everyday

I sat in my friend's car and inquired about the missing rear view mirror.  A common scam in Bogota is to steal the rear view mirror when the car is parked or a bit more threatening is when you pull up to a stop light and a person runs up to the car and pops out the mirror out and runs off.  Inevitably you end up buying back the same mirror that was stolen. We turned onto the autopista (highway) and a kid on a bike, peddling as fast as he could, peddled up next to us flashing a business card.  True to Murphey's law he wanted us to come buy a new rear view mirror. We had a good laugh from this encounter as we slowly pulled away.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Moving Day

We are now in the midst of pack-out.  Like seriously.  As I sit here on the carpet I am surrounded by boxes and watching the bubble wrap flow freely from the roll.  I really, really hate this time.  I'm not good at it, rather, I'm a wreck.  
The tension started on the day of the survey when they showed up and didn't speak any English after I had specifically requested and been guaranteed an English speaker.  After an hour on the phone they left and returned later with an interpreter.  Normally I just plow my way through these things (and I mean that quiet literally with no grace), but there is no way I could coordinate a move with shipments of four types in Spanish.
A big part of the move for me is just getting past my own emotions.  This has nothing to do with my family, the embassy or the movers.  It's simply me.  I really should be checked into a mental institution for the week where I can happily chat with all the other crazy people.  Pick me up on the way to the airport and all crisis' will have been averted.
Although the employee is supposed to have the time off of work to help with the pack-out, Chad was the only medical person in town, so he had to work.  Therefore circumstances alone caused me to be a bit uptight when the packers arrived.  
The plan was to begin with Damon's room, pack his 100 lbs. then move onto our air shipment.  We began but they didn't bring a scale with them.  Their idea was to "guesstemate" our shipping weight.  It didn't take much at all for me to fall apart yesterday morning.  Another hour on the phone with the embassy.  Of course they were flabbergasted that there was no scale at our pack-out either.  After that I watched them drop part of our computer on the floor and unpack all the little pre-packed things, you know, Christmas ornaments and such.  By lunch time I sat in the corner and had a good cry.  
The scale arrived after lunch.  We discovered Damon's shipment to be 150 lbs. over weight.  He spent this morning unpacking it all and they repacked it for him.  I hovered over the scale to make sure he got exactly 100 lbs. of stuff to take to college.  We now have a pile of stuff in his room that I have no idea what to do with.  I'm likely to throw it out the window.
Today is going much better.  Chad is here, he's been a load of help.  We are at 50 boxes and 2,356 lbs.  Downstairs is finished and now they are moving upstairs.
They are going to do our house and furniture inspection this afternoon.  Ha!  It's the dirtiest the place has been in two years and you can't see any surfaces with all the stuff in the way.  I'm sure they will have to do another one. 
Oh well, in 9 days I will be on a plane headed home - whether my stuff makes it out of Colombia or not!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Most Beautiful and Wonderful Prom

This is simply one of those emails that I never want to forget.  The schedule for the Sr. Banquet on graduation evening, otherwise known of as "The Prom" here in Colombia.  In my mind this event is not really a prom, because who brings their mom to their Sr. Prom?  It's also a bit beyond a simple banquet as you will see from the "rain of balloons".  Rather, I almost equate it to a wedding reception so I have therefore been bugging Damon to know if he has practiced for his "mother and son" dance.  

Hello everyone

This saturday arrives de day of the party of the grade of our children in the Hilton Hotel; for everything to go as it has been plan since already various months, is that we detailed the timetable and activities that are going to happen during the prom.

6:45 PM- 7:00 PM
Arrival of family, students and friends to the Hilton Hotel.  ( carrera 7 No. 72-41. TelĂ©fono : 6006 100)  Have in count the traffic of saturdays

7 PM - 7:15 PM
Arrangement in the tables assignet to each group of students in Salon Platino
(there will be a person in charge to tell you where your table is located, this will have the students name on in Ej Sara's table)
IMPORTANT the students from Y13 DONT have to enter the salon, they will wait in the waiting room, so they can later enter for the special event.
Unfortunately we dont have extra time to wait for any student that arrives late for this group entrance to the prom.

7:15 PM
Student come in to the t=room, they will head to the center of the dance floor, where we will receive them. Later each will go to their respective table  and the dinner of 3 times will began.
When the first plate is finished a video will be projected.
After the second plate, each father/ mother/ family or friend (you choose) will give a present to each of ther childs.
After the dessert, student will be invited to the center of the room, with a partner (father/mother/ family or friend) to give start to the dance, which will be enlighten by a rain of ballons. 

Guests that were invited and bought the $40,000 ticket will enter (this can be modified depending on the schedule of the other activies previous to this one) assistance will give each guest a bracelet of diferent colors to identify adults and minors of age. Each guest will be registrated on a list, recommended to take identification so no problems will occur.

11Pm to 12 AM
DJ from the Mega will play . Daniel Sala
Party will end at 2 AM

Entering and exiting the party is not permitted, if they try to do so they will risk for the hotel security to not let them in again to the event.
Who ever wants to smoke can head towards the open pool , which canbe enter  by the Bar Levels, located in the first floor of the hotel.

The dress code choosen by the guys is: Males: Suit/ Tie and for Females: long dress or coctel.

We also want to remaind to whoever wants to take their own alcoholic drinks, will have to go to the hotel by friday from 9 to 11AM, having a price of 70,000 per bottle.
Inside the salon there will be a bar where you can adquire different beverages (price was already send in another mail) this consumption will have to be pay at the moment of bought, also alcoholic beverages will not be sold to minor age (under 18)

We take advantage to salute and ask support from every one of you to take care of the party so it can be a beautiful and wonderful Prom for our kids!
To everyone who has colaborated, Thank you very Much!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Funny Faces With the V.P.

Dr. & Vice Presiden Biden with Ambassador and Mrs. McKinley
A week ago the Vice President was in Bogota for a visit.  Chad put lots of extra time into the preparation for this vist in meetings and taking the med. staff to hospitals for inspection.  He's done a few other visits already in his State Dept. career for the Pres. and Sec. but no one has ever taken the time to say "thank-you".  So it was rather meaningful when it was announced that the V.P. would be doing a "meet and greet".
A very fresh looking Dr. and Vice President Biden came straight from the airport to shake hands with us and mingle for an hour before going to their hotel room.  Somehow after I get off an airplane and out of my car I look a bit worse for the wear.  My hair is tousled and make-up thin.  My clothes are quiet wrinkly and I just have a general feel of stuffiness about me.  Not the Bidens.  They were relaxed and spiffy - not a wrinkle on her suit.  I have to admit that since I really don't pay much attention to politics or who's who, I had to google search photos to be sure I was polite to the correct people!
They each gave a speech.  I was particularly impressed with the V.P. who didn't use notes and incorporated many personal Colombia antidotes into his talk.  His thankfulness for the overseas employees really felt genuine, and I appreciated that.
Maddie shaking the VP's hand
Oh Yeah!
They did a great photo op with the kids.  My girls had the hugest smiles after he came over and shook their hands!  We endured a bit of waiting and shoving to make it up to the red rope and shake his hand. I tried desperately to get some great pictures, but I just wasn't quiet tall enough and I really don't have a great knack at capturing the moment with people and expressions.  Damon had the greatest little chat with him about finishing high school and heading off to college.  Every baby in the room was kissed and cuddled.   It was a great experience and definitely goes into our top 10 experiences while in Colombia.

Getting an important message from the VP
Chad throws a comment out of the corner of his mouth
Damon contemplating the answer to "Which college will you be attending?".
Overall my favorite photo with Damon's arm casually slung around the VP!