Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas and Wedding...

This past week has been one for the books. As if the joys and stresses of the holidays aren't enough, I have added a long LONG list of wedding to do's. So, it has been a very fun and very hectic week. I'll start with the wedding stuff quickly and then move on to the wonderful Christmas that we celebrated yesterday.

Last saturday all of my bridesmaids came over for a brunch before heading over to David's Bridal to try on bridesmaids dresses. It was a fun day and it was so great to see all my girls. I have 3 bridesmaids and 1 Jr. bridesmaid. We picked out a dress (not shown below) for the girls along with some shoes for them as well. Thanks girls for making it a wonderful day!

Patrice being silly
Nicki pretending to propose
My T-shirt that Nicki gave me, so cute!
My three beautiful!

While we all know that Christmas falls on December 25th, it doesn't mean that the festivities are secluded to one day. I attended three Christmas parties last week, had a special Christmas Eve night with my family of 6, and then had an all-day event yesterday at my grandparent's home. It was a wonderful two days and I can't help but think of how next year a new member to the family will be added and the McLuhan-Hammond traditions will be tweaked a bit as Aaron and I come up with our own Das traditions. But until then, I have the wonderful memory of Christmas 08 to reflect on throughout 2009. I hope that it was as wonderful a time for you and that you are anticipating God's provision and blessings in this next year.

Below are Christmas pictures followed by my "wrap-up 2008" mini video to portray just a small amount of what the Lord has done in my life this past year. Many blessings and my next blog will come from the new year, 2009!
Christmas morning before opening gifts.

Our beautifully decorated Tree (thanks to Patrice)
Patrice, worn out from the festivities
3 generations for Christmas 08
Getting ready to dig in...thanks Mammy and PeePaw for the amazing feast!
The family picture for 08....until next year!

Now, here's the 2008 finale! Enjoy this short video and, as you watch, remember that while your picture may not appear, your love and support is behind each and every one of the significant moments! May the Lord richly bless you in 2009 and I look forward to another year of emails, blogs, and keeping in touch with you! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My E-trip home and Jill's graduation

Last Wednesday I got a phone call from my mom informing me that my grandmother, whom I call "Oma", had had a stroke. My dad went out there (to Arizona) last Thursday as I made the decision to up my Christmas travels and hop on a plane in the event that her situation got worse. Over the past week she has been from the lowest of low to what seemed to be a steady road to recovery. Dad returned today only to find out that during his flight she passed out again and had some kind of episode. Our family seems to be on a roller coaster ride and would truly appreciate your prayers at this time. She is one of the strongest women I have ever known and to see her suffer is difficult for all who know and love her.

While the circumstances for my early return were not desirable, there was definite good that came out of my Thursday night arrival. My sister Jill graduated from Lee University this past Saturday. Because my dad went to Arizona, it was great that I could be there for her with Patrice, Patrice's folks, Patrice's sister, and my brother Josiah. We were all so proud to see her walk across stage and receive her diploma. Great job Jill, we're SOOO proud of you!

In other news, Aaron is in India until the 28th so I'm just hangin out at my parent's home and getting ready to celebrate Christ's birth with those I love most (minus Aaron, of course) I can't wait to see him but until then, I'm surrounding myself by people I haven't seen for months. I'll keep the blog updated in regards to my grandmother and, if I dont' talk to you before, have a wonderful family-filled Christmas this year!

QUOTE: Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childhood days, recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth, and transport the traveler back to his own fireside and quiet home!
Charles Dickens

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Retiro de Lideres (leadership retreat)

This past weekend I helped coordinate/attended a retreat for the student leaders and national workers of UCU. Its something that UCU does at the close of every year to talk about the events of the previous year and plan ahead for the following. It was a time of constant meetings, planning, praying, and organizing. Nevertheless, this retreat is one of the most important times of the year as we pray about what God has for us and the ways in which we can mature and reach more people through our service and ministry. One of the things we did was decide on the "Lema y Libro". In other words, the slogan and book of the bible for 2009.
In Spanish: Escoge, pues, la vida: Jesucristo
In English: Therefore, choose life: Jesus Christ (Deuteronomy 30:19)
The book of the Bible will be Deuteronomy
2009 is a huge year for UCU as we will be celebrating our 40th anniversary. (hence choosing Deuteronomy in symbolic reference with what the Israelites were going through after their 40 years in the desert and preparing to enter the promised land) Below are a couple of pictures and a silly little video (completely unedited) to show the hang-out times we had (which were FEW but FABULOUS!)

QUOTE:“Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans” John Lennon

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

ExpoErotica Exito (success!)

Words can't describe how awesome the whole experience was....on a campus with nearly 30,000 students, our UCU group of 30 spent the day on the National University's campus talking about God and Sex. Check out this video, it does it more justice than my words could!

Friday, November 28, 2008

The votes are in!...

Faithful readers,
After reading many emails and blog comments, a decision has been reached. heehee

Well, right from the start Aaron was suggesting I keep my mac because I would undoubtedly regret the switch back to a regular PC (which I last used about 4 years ago). Many of your emails were educational in the fact that they taught me how to make my mac more compatible with the office system/computers. Other emails encouraged us to BOTH have a mac and sent links to see how eBay and other sites offered much lower prices than any Apple store would. So, here is the decision...

Since I have an almost co-dependent relationship my mac (sarcasm) and since I have found ways to make it more compatible, I am keeping my white beauty. As for Aaron, he is going to keep an eye out for refurbished macs or new macs on eBay that will serve him well in his future endeavors. We aren't a family yet, but when we become one, we will be a Mac Family! heehee Thanks for all your input.

In terms of Thanksgiving, well, it was nice. I worked during the day (its not any kind of holiday here) and then went to my boss' house for a real Thanksgiving dinner. There was turkey and stuffing and cranberry sauce etc. I can't say that it was grandma's cookin, but it was a VERY close second and the fellowship was wonderful. No pictures to show, sorry about that, I must be slackin in the photo department. Hope that your Thanksgiving was amazing and that you had a special time with friends and family. Until next time!

QUOTE: Thanksgiving Day is a jewel, to set in the hearts of honest men; but be careful that you do not take the day, and leave out the gratitude. ~E.P. Powell

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My MacProblem and your needed MacVote.

Well, I'm in a minor dilemma.
I have the not so easy decision of choosing between a PC or keeping my mac. Why would I get rid of a perfectly good mac laptop? Because my future husband is in great need of a computer and wants a mac. The problem is that macs are twice the price of a quality PC laptop these days. Aaron needs a mac to do some of the creative and artistic things that he is into and wants to further. Whereas I, well, I just like macs. But we don't have the cash to buy a mac for Aaron right now and I have been running into problems lately with compatibility issues between my mac and my office-mates' computers. I often have to work on projects, edit videos, and hook up to systems that are not mac friendly.

Here's where you come in. Do I give Aaron my laptop and have him help me out with buying an HP laptop for half the price, or do I put a white-knuckle grip on my Apple and tell him to fin for himself and we'll get him one when we win the lottery? Mac, or PC?
Please vote soon so I can count the ballots and decide before the end of the year. Every vote counts and please offer your opinion as to why or why not. Thanks!

QUOTE: Never let a computer know you're in a hurry. ~Author Unknown

Friday, November 21, 2008

Culture Take 3

The only thing going on here these days is fervent prep. for a huge expo we have at the University next week. I'm thinking that you don't want to know the details at this point, so I'm giving a lesson in culture for the third time.

What do you think this gesture means???

It means that there were a lot of people. For example, you want to explain to somebody that the bus was SO full that there were people hanging out the doors. THAT is when you would use this.

What about this one???

It means something was delicious. I'm serious! Its actually a two-part deal. You start with your finger under your eye and then move it forward and away from your face. This signifies that the Tamale you had at Liliana's last night was delicious as you describe it to your friend over another eye-to-finger deserving coffee! the States when one walks into a room full of people, you simply give a general "hello everyone" and then begin to mingle with your particular favorites (so to speak). NOT SO in Latin America. Upon entering a room, you MUST greet every person individually with an air-kiss to the left cheek and some time of salutation. Translated, it would go something like this:
"Hi, Angie, what's up? (muah) Hello Oscar, how are ya? (muah) Hey there Eliana. (muah) Hi Andres, how ya been? (muah)..." This would continue until all had been greeted and THEN, only THEN, could I be seated and begin to mingle or eat or whatever.

The not so enjoyable cat-calls. This is one of my least favorite things in this culture. Despite popular belief, you don't have to have a fresh layer of makeup, weigh less than 110 lbs, wear tight clothes, bla bla bla. In fact, the only requirement for a woman to receive cat-calls is to, well, be a woman with legs, arms, hair, a face and the other womanly essentials. Seeing as Bogota is full of people who walk to work, school etc (like me) it is a daily occurance that you pass construction workers, business men, grandpas and adolescent boys. Again, the requirement for the type of man is simply that he has eyes. Click-click go the heels and whistle-whistle come the calls. Sometimes its the simple whistle and stares. Other times, such as this morning, a middle-aged man will approach you and tell you where his apartment is located if you're interested. It is immediately followed by a blank look from the woman that sends the message "over my dead body Mr." followed by a quick turn of the eyes and continuing, at a faster pace, of her journey to work or wherever her day is taking her. In my case, the rest of the walk is comprised of me feeling like I need to take a shower again and dress myself in a parka and mask from now on. EW!

That's all for now! HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY Thanksgiving to all!

Friday, November 14, 2008

My 100th post!

Wow, so much has happened since I started this blog nearly two years ago and now we're on blog #100. How exciting!

Well, this week I celebrated my birthday with Aaron and my friends here in Colombia. This will be short and sweet, but basically I had a great time! How weird to think I'm a quarter of a century old. heehee
eating at a Mexican restaurant for my birthday lunch
the girls at bible study wishing me happy birthday
my home-made card and a balloon with my handsome fiance
me laughing cause Aaron smeared icing on my face!

Wednesday night was Bible study as usual and so they got me a cake and Aaron bought my favorite ice cream! They sang and we just hung out a bit after the study was over.

Then last night, my actual birthday, a bunch of people came to the UCU house and we watched a movie on the overhead projector, ate popcorn and brownies, and just had a great time. I feel so very blessed to have people here who love me and come from all over the city to celebrate with me. My 25th year is going to be full of great change, just as this last year has been. I look forward to discovering all that the Lord has in store.

QUOTE: Inside every older person is a younger person -
wondering what on earth happened.
- Cora Harvey Armstrong

Friday, November 07, 2008

The winding road ahead...

Have you heard the song "Jesus Take the Wheel" by Carrie Underwood? If not, you can click HERE. The song is kind of depressing and I'm not, by any means, depressed. So that isn't the point. The point is that, no matter how "in control" we would like to be and often feel we are, that is a simple lie we tell ourselves. Whether you have tendencies to be a very controlling person, or whether you are more laid back and easy-going, nobody likes to think that their life is out of control. Well, not usually. This blog is a reflection just as much for me as for you. It is me recognizing and reminding myself for the 9,497, 842nd time that I am NOT in control.

Sometimes the road I'm on is gorgeous. Its the road that winds up and over the greenest grass and tallest mountains. Its the road I sense when Aaron asks me to marry him or when I find out that I'm finally at 100% support and can leave for Colombia. Its the road when I often forget to thank God for the green and the mountains because all is well in the world. We like this road. Its easy. Its fun. But it can be dangerous if we forget to recognize who laid the road out before us.

You may then quite suddenly find yourself in a valley. Its damp, its deep, and you are surrounded by seemingly insurmountable difficulties. This is when none of my dreams seem to be coming true, no doors are opening, and God seems to be just standing around on the other side of the mountain, totally out of sight. Its when I can't figure out which fork to take and I wonder what on earth God is trying to teach me. Its when my family is struggling, and I can do nothing to help. Its when I'm homesick and feel that I'v failed, its when the economy drops and my support shrinks a few digits. But this is when, as you have been trying to drive the impossible road, you must stop, pull over, try to see the beauty in the valley, and let Jesus take the wheel.

It is possible that after you finally leave the valley, in full expectation of arriving back on top, you enter the cold. The damp has frozen over, your car is dirty and tired, You have tried to re-take the wheel in thinking that your way will surely be better than the Lord's, and your gas light is warning you that you have almost run out of yourself. Its a lonely road. You have friends all around but you don't feel their holding hands nor can you hear the mute words of comfort they say. You are alone. This is when my friends forget my birthday, when my parents have too much on their plate to add my problems, its when Aaron is in his own world, out of touch with my needs, and when all I have worked for is on the brink of freezing over and cracking. Oh but look around you. Look at the snow-covered mountains that, while they seem out of reach, are still within view. Look at the branches weighted down with fresh snow. Listen to the stillness. The muted voices are only so because the Lord wants you to hear only ONE voice; HIS voice. And so we wait. We listen. We don't like having to rely so heavenly on Him. We want our control back. Just give me back my wheel GOD! If only Zoe would be quiet and listen to the one who knows the road better than any map or guide. Be still and KNOW that He is the only savior.

Then there is the traffic-infested, bright-lights-all-around, can't-get-a-word-in-edgewise, too-much-stuff-to-do road. Its a mouth-full to say cause its a truck-load to do! You don't know where to start and you feel closed in with a schedule that seems impossible. Its when I have nine projects to work on in 2 days when the last month was slow as snails. Its the months of planning my wedding from over-seas and wondering where the busy lights will take my future husband and I. Its wondering if, at any point, I'm going to try and switch lanes but run into the car next to me. Its wondering if the "policeman" will pull me over for reckless driving or speeding. But its a rush. Its fun. It swerves and moves. The river of cars curves and moves at lightening speed and its pure adrenaline that allows you to keep up. You may pull into your driveway worn-out. BUt you won't ever forget that ride you had! I suppose we could say its the road I'm on now. I can hardly catch my breath but am still not ready to get out of the car.

I pray for you my friend. I pray for you, my family. That whichever road you find yourself on today, whether it be one of these described or a different road all together, that you will soon find yourself at one common destination. It is at the foot of the Cross. Whether you see it on the horizon yet or not, you must know that it is there. Perhaps the less you try to search it out the more quickly you will find yourself under its shelter. BUt you will, precious friend, find yourself there. The Lord is faithful. He will lead you there. Just let Him take the wheel. Put away your earthly maps. Look to the Father. You can find my favorite song by Hillsong HERE. Listen, and rest.

QUOTE: “You often meet your fate on the road you take to avoid it”
A French proverb

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

From orange and black To red and green

Colombia does not celebrate Thanksgiving, as you probably already know. I have, however, been invited to celebrate it with a missionary-friend that lives here in Bogota who works with the Presbyterian missions organization. That will have its own blog later.

What I really want to get into is the fact that Colombia does celebrate Halloween and Christmas. Halloween is a bit different in the fact that the kids don't go trick or treating from home to home. Instead, they go from business to business. If you own a restaurant, shoe store, hair salon, or telephone repair shop, you best be stocked up on candy every October 31st. And what do these dressed-up little munchkins go around chanting? The Spanish version is as follows...
Quiero Paz, Quiero Amor, Quiero Dulce por favor! (Give me peace, give me love, give me candy please...) It sounds better in Spanish. And so, after the night of costumes and candy is over, people retire to their homes to try and calm their children down from bouncing off the walls.

The next day, as you go about your business walking down your normal streets, you notice an unusual hustle a bustle....busier than the regular chaos that is Bogota......Green and Red are going up EVERYWHERE!!! Because we don't have Thanksgiving, they just move right on in to Christmas. The shopping malls of North America are NO MATCH for what this city is transformed into every Christmas. I had heard of its magnificance but had never lived it. The pictures I am showing are the ones I got off the internet but as we continue into the Christmas season, I'll put up some of my own. I can' do it quite yet out of sensitivity to all you North Americans that might stone me if I post a Christmas song or something until after Thanksgiving (Jill, Mom, etc). Though I should mention that I have already bought Faith Hill's new CHristmas CD and listened to it twice in its entirety. Haha...sorry Jill! Well, that's it for now! Enjoy the pics!

p.s. I may not be IN the USA, but please know that I recognize today's significance as you all go to the poles. Please know that I am praying for you and the outcome of this election.

QUOTE “Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.”
John Quincy Adams

Monday, October 27, 2008

We're Engaged!

WOOHOO!!!! Aaron got here last Thursday and popped the question on Saturday. The video tells all! It also includes the actual proposal as he was able to very sneakily get it on tape! Enjoy!

QUOTE: Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking together in the same direction.
~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Hairy Experience

I have been wanting to dye my hair dark again but havn't had the time or cash. Well, I got a little extra in my paycheck this week so I decided to treat myself. Keep in mind that when I say "treat myself" a FULL head of color and some highlights throughout only costs $40. Crazy huh? At my salon in the States (which isn't the highest priced) it would cost me MINIMUM $80. So, I figure I'm getting a great deal. I went a little funky and put in a splash of red which is completely in style in Colombia and I happen to think its super fun.

Why am I telling you this? This blog is mostly for all you ladies out there who may just get a little giggle out of my experience yesterday. I walk in to the salon and they starting oo-ing and aw-ing at my hair color which is naturally quite light. This, to them, is the most fantastic thing and they can't fathom why I would want to go dark when 50% of Colombian women pay lots of money to stay blond. But, reluctantly, they comply to my wishes and start mixing up color. Ya know, I'm not too sure if they were new at putting in color on natural blondes or not...but based on their puzzled looks and constant under-the-breath questions to one another I was getting pretty nervous. I mean, you can relate right? You're about to do something a little on the wild side and you have your own doubts. But then the TWO stylists assigned to you both seem to be lost little puppies in a closet of hair color.

For the following 2 1/2 hours I had FOUR, yes FOUR hands in my hair. Why you need two people to color a head, I'm not sure. And so you're sitting there thinking "this is either gonna come out great because of all the extra attention, or its gonna be a mixture of black and orangy-pink, fried crispy, and frizzy as a cotton ball" I sat their, praying for the prior. We made it through the washing and drying and, well, I was in awe. They did an amazing job! Exactly what I wanted! But the nerves of the morning wore me out and by 9 last night I was staggering home to fall in bed. Despite my extreme excitement over Aaron's arrival today, I actually slept great! I'm headed out now to pick him up. Bellow are some pictures of the hair. It may take some getting used to for some of you but trust me, its super fun!

QUOTE:Life is an endless struggle full of frustrations and challenges, but eventually you find a hair stylist you like.
Author Unknown

Monday, October 20, 2008

From the Word

As part of my evening routine I read The Message Remix//Pause. What is that exactly? Well, I'm sure you've heard of The Message version of the know, the one in every-day, plain speech? Its great. Well, the Remix//Pause is exactly what it sounds is a remixed version of the Bible; synchronizing old and new testament books and breaking them up in a way that allows you to read an O.T. passage and N.T. passage every day so as to read the entire Bible in one year. At the beginning of each book it gives a little history and some kind of insight. As I was reading the intro for 1 & 2 Samuel I couldn't help but have a "wow" moment. I just want to share with you what it says. It's nothing deeply profound. In fact, you may have heard something like this before. I know I have. But the wording is so understandable and applicable....I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. And now.....

I'm not writing it ALL down cause that would be super long....I'm just quoting the highlights, believe it or not.

"Four lives dominate the two-volume narrative of 1 & 2 Samuel: Hannah, Samuel, Saul, and David....these four lives become seminal for us at the moment we realize that our ego-bound experience is too small a context in which to understand and experience what it means to believe in God and follow His ways...
be reminded that these stories are not exemplary in the sense that we stand back and admire them, like statues in a gallery, knowing all the while that we will never be able to live either that gloriously or tragically ourselves. Rather they are immersions into the actual business of living itself: this is what it means to be human...
These four stories do not show us how we should live but how in fact we do live, authenticating the reality of our daily experience as the stuff that God uses to work out his purposes of salvation in us and in the world...
(here's the really good parts)...
One of many welcome consequences in learning to "read" our lives in the lives of Hannah, Smauel, Saul, and David is a sense of affirmation and freedom: we don't have to fit into prefabricated moral or mental or religious boxes before we are admitted into the company of God-we are taken seriously just as we are and given a place in his story, FOR IT IS, AFTER ALL, HIS STORY; NONE OF US IS THE LEADING CHARACTER IN THE STORY OF OUR LIFE! ...
for the biblical way is not so much to present us with a moral code and tell us "Live up to this"; nor is it to set out a system of doctrine that say, "Think like this and you will live well."

Ok, it was a lot, I know. But wasn't it fantastic??? I just keep reading it. Ok, now, for just a moment I'll tell you what's up this week. We don't have internet at work which has proven to be a bit of a challenge. So I spend my time both at home and work trying to catch up on things (since I have internet at home). Aaron arrives Thursday so I'm busy getting last minute stuff ready for that. SUPER EXCITED! That about wraps it up. No quote this week as I think the excerpt from the Message is long enough! ;) Blessings as you live out of the box!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Buses, beaches, and an INCREDIBLE WEEK!!!!!!!!!!!!

What can I say? I had THE MOST incredible week of my time in Colombia so far. Where can I start and NOT make this 19 pages long? Ok, I'll start with the bus. 18 hours will get you to the Northern Coast from Bogota. But the drive is INCREDIBLE...through mountains and valleys and into the tropics. WOW! Using the bathroom on the bus was quite an experience and, if any of you women out there would like to laugh your tails me and I'll fill you in on the hilarious details of that little experience.

I seriously can't give the day-by-day account of things cause it would take too long. I'll just sum it up. I went to the beach for an afternoon which was fabulous! We had two days of planning before the students started arriving from all over the coast of Colombia. There were 29 of us in total and we had an amazing time. The theme was "Can you have power without corruption?" How great is that for Colombia? Its also great for me! I'm learning to have some authority and "a say" here but I hope to learn to practice these things with complete humility and with an attitude of service. It was a great theme to study in detail and, even more, I UNDERSTOOD the lectures! WOOHOO

The retreat ended on Monday afternoon. We got all packed up and then hopped back on a bus for a 19 hour ride home. The travel time always depends on traffic and weather. I would make that trip again ANY TIME. I even had the thought more than once of "I could see myself living here". The culture in the coast is very different from the food, to the relationships, to the language. Its very very HOT and nobody has AC. And the coast tends to have a poorer population in general. But the people make up for it and I have definitely fallen in love with more of this country. The video will say it all! Enjoy the 2:30 minutes of my most incredible week so far!

QUOTE: Our culture runs on coffee and gasoline, the first often tasting like the second.
Edward Abbey

Monday, October 06, 2008

The Times

It has been pretty ordinary around here lately. I'v been teaching classes and doing my normal UCU thing. So, at the risk of sounding a bit boring, I just wanted to update you on what lies ahead this month as it is already packed!

Tomorrow evening I leave, by bus, for the coast of Colombia. Its about an 18 hours ride up north to Santa Marta. I'm headed up there for a UCU regional retreat. Our team will be arriving a few days before the retreat to make the appropriate preparations before the students arrive. The retreat ends on Monday the 13th at which point I will head 4 hours south to Cartagena to spend 2-3 days with my roommate and her family (Yomaida is originally from the coast). I should be arriving back to Bogota on October 17th. I have never been to the coastal region of Colombia and am excited to visit.

The other exciting thing happening this month is that on Oct. 23rd my boyfriend will be arriving for a 10-day visit. He has been in Honduras for 2 months doing a short term missions program, language learning, and traveling. It will have been more than 3 months since I last saw him and we are very excited about seeing one another. I'll still be working during his visit but we'll have the evenings and 2 weekends to do touristy things and show him around.

Other than that, I suppose no news is good news. I continue to become accustomed to the many Colombian differences in culture and am truly enjoying my life here. I'll have a much more exciting entry after the retreat with all kinds of fun pictures. Until then, God Bless!

QUOTE: Life loves the liver of it.
Maya Angelou

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Culture: Take 2

I got some interesting reactions to my last blurb on culture, so I figured I'd keep it up! This one isn't quite as long....but hopefully just as entertaining!

Bills bills bills...
You may be interested to know that paying bills here is quite different. Whether it be a cell phone bill or electric for the house. First, the bill arrives at your mailbox (some of us are lucky enough to even HAVE mailboxes, others just get it placed in the lobby of their apartment building) You then take the bill to any bank that is listed on the bill. You generally have a VERY LONG line to stand in (particularly if your bill arrives at the end of the month). The teller takes your bill and the CASH ONLY that you pay it with. The money is deposited directly into that businesses' bank account and you're set for the month. Weird huh?

Cucumber juice
This one is a new one for me. I woke up this morning and my roomate was making cucumber juice. I gave the "what on earth is that" look and she explained candidly that there was no more fruit in the house and so she was making juice out of the cucumber. Ingredients: Cucumber, water, and sugar. BLend until mushy, strain, and drink up! I did not try it, but it smelled like a fresh salad. I think I like my OJ better! ;)

Cross walks.
What Cross Walks? There are absolutely NO pedestrian rights here. You wait until there is a clearing and then you run for dear life. If you take too long, you will either get run over or cussed out. I say this too lightly. Because the fact is that there are MANY deaths every week from people who don't quite make it across in time. It can be very dangerous!

Gringo tax
Any of you who have traveled have probably noticed that upon hearing your North America accent, local venders will spit out a price that is WELL above the item's worth. Something I'v noticed...they don't do that with the locals! Well, I'm not one to really accept that kind of treatment. So I generally firmly mention something like "Sir, around the corner they are selling this same item for 10,000 pesos Less ($5). Would you like to match that price or should I go back to that store?" Their faces usually drop momentarily before they give me the item for the lower price.
Taxis are the WORST about this. They either try to short-change you or up the price. The other day, for a 7,000 peso ride ($3.50) I paid with a 20,000 peso bill. He only gave me 3,000 pesos back, hoping I wouldn't notice. When I quickly corrected him by "asking" if I hadn't given him a 20,000 bill, he looked at me in the mirror and reluctantly handed me the remaining 10,000. He said in a mumbled Spanish "you're no gringa" HAH! What a compliment. What can I say, its the "gringo tax"

That's all for now folks. Just remember, when in Rome...

QUOTE: I think foreign countries really do like it when American artists sing in their language. And when you go over there and say, 'Hi, how are you?' in their language, they love it. It makes them feel like you're doing it just for them. We in America take so much for granted.
Natalie Cole