What does that really mean anyway? Well folks, I have an apartment! What a blessing...video to come! Thanks for the many prayers!
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
I want you to know where I live. I want you to be able to picture interactions with the people I work with. This is important to me because YOU are part of my life, even if you are across the ocean. And so I thought it important to give you just a tiny intro into Colombian Culture. Keep in mind that these are a) only minute details of daily life and b) from MY perspective and things people have told me here. This is kind of a long blog, but you might just find yourself laughing...so it may be worth the 5 minutes! heehee
Things we eat...Coffee with NO cream but VERY sweet (I still find cream to put in my coffee, I can't help the gringo within), "Arepa con queso" is a very typical breakfast or snack. Its similar to a small pancake made from corn and stuffed with delicious cheese, then you fry it and enjoy the delicious greasy snack...I'm becoming addicted! Vegetables....LOTS of vegetables. I bought THREE FULL GROCERY BAGS of fruits and veggies the other day. Grand total: $9. WOW! I could get used to this! And finally, while I could go on for days about the food here, an interesting fact is that everything comes in bags! The last picture you'll see of the food section is of typical groceries you'd buy at the store: milk in a bag, cream in a bag, pineapple sauce in a bag, and, yes, KETCHUP in a BAG! p.s. water comes in bags too!
Gestures we use and DON'T use...First of all, as in many cultures, it is rude to point at people. You only point at things! So, if you want a friend of yours to take a look at somebody across the bus aisle or the street, you point with your LIPS (as demonstrated). This can become quite challenging to those of us who have tiny lips! But, its still better than pointing and a lot more subtle if you do it right. We also do not indicate a PERSON's height in the typical U.S. way with palm facing downward. No, that is only to indicate the height of ANIMALS. Instead, you use a gesture with palm pointing outward (as demonstrated). I forget this one a lot...but they are gracious enough to remind me.
Things that I have had difficulty adjusting to, but hey-that's life in Colombia...TIME: oh gosh. I could tell you 15 stories about how time is NOT of the essence in this culture. Zoe: remembering how much she has to get done, politely asks her boss: "How long do you think the meeting will last today?"... Her boss replies: "Oh, probably an hour or so, I have a lot to do today..." Actual meeting time: 3-4 hours where we generally talk about the same thing in every possible light. We also talk about our relationships and struggles and accomplishments in this meeting, unlike the gringo meeting which is all work and no play. The culture is a lot more relationship-oriented which can be a wonderful thing! So, you just adjust your day accordingly and whatever doesn't get done...mmm...o-well!
BUSES: again with the buses. Well, the more I ride them, the more I realize...the drivers are on their own agenda. When you are approaching your stop, you must find the nearest "bell" to ring and do so, thus indicating to the driver that you would like him to at least slow down so that you can jump for dear life. However, if he doesn't feel like stopping just then, or if he stopped only 100 yards back, you just get to stand at the door and wait until he FEELS like stopping. Yes, this means you may end up back-tracking for a good 5 minute walk. The locals will often keep ringing the bell and even bang on the side of the buss or the GLASS door, but, me being the gentle and soft-spoken missionary that I am just wait quietly until he slows down enough for the jump...haha The Joke's on me GRINGA! ;)
"Se ARRIENDA" means "FOR RENT": Some of you have followed me on my journey to find an apartment and it is NO SMALL TASK. I won't go into detail, but after 3 weeks of searching, we are STILL waiting for a response. Hopefully it will come today but I'm telling you, patience is a virtue that I am learning, whether I like it or not!
The CELL PHONE system here is quite the maze. Its impossible to explain, but lets just say that there are 3 main cell phone companies and they don't work on "minutes" per month. Instead, its "pesos per month". So, there are different prices in calling a land-line, calling another cell that has your carrier, and calling a cell that is of the other 2 companies. In my case, its about 8 cents a minute to call my co-company phones and other land-lines, but to call another company's cell is about 15 cents per minute. Depending on who I call the most, I will run out of minutes accordingly and have to re-charge. It was confusing at first. But, I think I got it!
And finally...MONEY: There are approximately 1,800 Colombian Pesos to the US Dollar. So, I can go to the ATM and pull out ONE MILLION, yes MILLION, Pesos for the equivalant of $555 dollars. Crazy huh? The Dollar changes daily, so it isn't always that exact amount, but I'm just rounding. How much does it cost to live here?...here are some prices, not including the fruits and veggies which I already mentioned...
a new cell phone (basic): $35
A 10-minute taxi ride: $2
pair of shoes: $15-$25
hair cut and COLOR: $28
Bed and mattress (double size): $250
And that about wraps it up for this lesson in Colombian Ways.
p.s. I think it should be noted for all you "Roach-aphobic" people out there....at 8,000 feet above sea level, there are quite practically NO BUGS in Bogota....the Lord sure knew what He was doing when He called me here!
Saturday, August 23, 2008
It seems that we MIGHT have an apartment. We found THE PERFECT place for the most amazing price. We turned in our paperwork and after talking to the landlord, things seem to be looking our way. However, we won't have a definite answer until Wed. or Thurs. Knowing that eventually I am going to need a WHOLE LOT of stuff for the apartment (because both Yomaida and I are going into this with nothing but some clothes and two couches), I decided to do some price shopping today. My current roomate, Zunny, accompanied me down town where there are thousands of little stores that sell descent stuff for reasonable prices. Here's what I got:
This little pile includes some amazing new dishes (a nice set for $20), 3 pans that were on sale, 3 tuperwear containers, and...well....there's a story with the coffee pot. Zunny and I decided to go to Carrifour which is their equivalent to Wal-Mart where we decided we needed some coffee for the house. I went to pick up my favorite brand and the lady in the aisle was showing the promotion....5 pounds of coffee got you a 6-cup coffee pot for FREE. HAH! So, for $15 I got 5 pounds of coffee and a coffee pot. I'm thinkin thats a good deal! I didn't have a coffee pot yet for the apt. so I killed two birds with one stone.
Being silly with my new pans...
Zunny and I getting back from out 6-hour shopping spree in the POURING rain!
And this HEAP is my current closet. Yes, this pile of sheer mess is how I am currently living with no space to call my own. Well, I absolutely adore Zunny and so it is worth having the mess to get to share a room with her for a week or so. No biggy!
I'll be sure to post an update as SOON as I get word on the apartment. Today's shopping was only a taste of what is to come....here are some of the things on my very long list
bed and mattress
a few rugs to help with the cold tile floors
QUOTE: "Wal-mart... do they like make walls there?"
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
What exactly IS Ibague? Heehee....its a city in Colombia. About a four-hour drive will take you to lower altitude (Bogota is about 8,000 feet), lush greenery, 85 degrees, and the smaller city of Ibague. I was there this past weekend for an UCU retreat with about 45 college students and recent graduates. In this case, pictures are definitely going to speak louder than words. So, enjoy!
This was the view from my bus window on the way to Ibague.
One of the pictures from the place we were staying-A retreat/farm just outside of Ibague. Roughin-it in a beautiful place!
Where the girls stayed...25 girls sharing a room and only TWO bathrooms. Heehee
Some of the girls! I made some good friends.
Me with the local farm pet...he could even talk, in Spanish of course!
Ok, this is a LONG story. We had a "talent show" and a big group of us did a skit. My role: the small "pool" that the Eunich was baptized in by Philip in Acts. It was HILARIOUS! The guy in the pic is the Eunich and he is being dipped. heehee
Sitting in one of the sessions.
A candle-lit time around a bonfire. Great fun!
leaving the property and headed to catch the bus back to Bogota
The official group shot for the weekend. Such a blast getting to know all these folks!
In terms of my apartment situation....what apartment? Yeah, the one that we were going for was turned down. So we're kinda back to square one. Meanwhile I am living at the UCU house. There are two spare rooms here and there's a kitchen. There are some definately pro's and con's to living here but I'm not worried. I see myself being here 2-3 weeks before we are able to get approved for an apartment so, what's a couple weeks? Its great because I just wake up, shower up, get dressed, and boom!...I'm already at work! The main downside is that there is a fairly large lack of privacy because students are coming and going all day. But, no biggy! Just keep praying that Yomaida and I find just the right place for us. God knows what's up! Until next time friends!
QUOTE:There is nothing so easy to learn as experience and nothing so hard to apply.
Friday, August 08, 2008
Here's some key points of interest to fill you in on what I'v been up to.
First of all, in silly news, I tried baking in Colombia. Sound stupid? Well baking in HIGH altitude (8,000 ft) is no joke! I tried my hand at brownies. I followed the "high altitude" directions and, well, they were a HIT to say the least. Brownies aren't common around here. They were a LOT more "fudgy" than normal but I actually like them better that way.
Yesterday they threw a "welcome home" party for me at Grace's house. It was actually held outside in her apartment complex but it was fun. We ate, played games, and just had some nice fellowship. It was also a going away party for another missionary from Germany named Astrid. She has worked in Colombia for 11 years and is headed back home to take care of her elderly parents. So it was kind of a bitter sweet party. But fun nevertheless.
I got my Colombian I.D.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm so thrilled. After three visits to the appropriate offices, I finally got my Colombian "Cedula". This is actually very important as at any given moment you can be stopped on the street by the police and asked to present your Cedula. So, I'm official. I only had one week left before I became illegal. So it was good timing. Here's some proud pictures of my newly acquired residency!
And lastly, Yomaida and I turned in our papers to an apartment owner and are waiting to hear back. Its quite a process and you practically have to hand over your life to them for the approval process. Bank statements, copies of IDs, a total of six references, and a co-signer. So yeah, if they decide that we are worthy of the apartment we should be hearing back from them in the next 3-4 days. Pray hard! That's all for now folks!
QUOTE: The love of one's country is a splendid thing. But why should love stop at the border?
Sunday, August 03, 2008
Hi friends. This isn't one of those urgent moments where we need to gather the troops for a 24-hour prayer fast. I would, however, truly appreciate you saying a word on my behalf. I am currently looking for an apartment with a fellow worker of mine and, well, its proving to be tougher than we thought. The sooner we can find one, the better it will be for both of us. Please pray specifically that we find one in a timely manner, in a very safe neighborhood, close to the office, and in our price range. I promise to let you know as soon as we find something.
Other than that, all is well in the land of coffee. Though I do recommend to all my fellow coffee-lovers that you not go overboard. I did that my first week here and became completely dehydrated! What can I say, Colombia makes GOOD coffee!
QUOTE: "The morning cup of coffee has an exhilaration about it which the cheering influence of the afternoon or evening cup of tea cannot be expected to reproduce."
Oliver Wendall Holmes Sr.