Since many of you have emailed me to ask how we are all doing here, I thought I would give you an update (and forego for today my usual cultural observations). The kids are doing well. Siena is adjusting to school and learning more Spanish. She has made a few friends and no longer cries when we drop her off at school. She absolutely loves horseback riding and is a natural at it. She has been taking private lessons twice a week (at $10 per lesson!) in a very professionally run horseback riding school. She would go every day if we let her, but she is too young for that. It’s wonderful that she found something that she loves so much though.
Jade is continuing to do well. She has made lots of friends at school and is basically always up for trying new things and having new experiences, a very helpful quality when we are in a new country. She tried horseback riding but it really wasn’t her thing. Reading has always been her favorite pastime and she is now rereading Heidi, the only English language book that we brought, for the fifth time. I am resisting getting more English language books because I am hoping that she will pick up a book in Spanish one of these days.
As for Saige, she is just too cute for words. At 15 months, she is expanding her vocabulary daily (in English and Spanish), is walking everywhere and basically getting into everything (her favorite activity is to run in the opposite direction of wherever we are trying to go), and stops to chat and flirt with everybody. This girl is definitely not shy! She helps us make friends everywhere we go.
Esteban is doing well although he still seems somewhat stressed out with all the changes that we have been through and all the pressure he feels to take care of everything. I have been trying to do more on my own here to take some of the work off of him. I think more than anything, the weight (and the annoyance) of the alarm waking us up every morning is a constant presence in our household. The Administrator seems to be dragging his feet on getting a technician to come in so we decided to start the legal process. Our nanny’s’s mom, is going to the police and bringing them back today so they can give the neighbor a citation and a legal warning and then we can take the steps to suing. It’s a pain in the butt but I keep telling myself that this will be a unique cultural experience.
As for me, I am trying to enjoy everything and treat everything as a cultural experience. Through school and contacts from the US and the coaching world, I am meeting interesting people and learning a lot about Colombian culture. I feel pretty settled here and really appreciate the friendliness of people we meet. Having made a very difficult move to New England from Washington DC three years ago (difficult because it took a long time to get to know people or to have somebody actually invite us over for a dinner), I really appreciate how every weekend is full of invitations to do something fun. I really feel like I am plugging into Colombian society in a way I have never before been able to experience while traveling or living in another country. Some things I like, some things I don’t like but ultimately I am trying to just take it all in without judging it too much (I fail at this daily but I keep trying). After all, I know that we are just here for a limited amount of time so I won’t have to live with the thing that I don’t like for too long. I also have to confess that I love having all of the domestic help. I am not much of a homebody and to be liberated from cleaning and cooking (of which there is plenty with 3 kids!) is a godsend.
On the other hand, as I have written before I want to find ways to give back. Yesterday, as a grocery store employee was walking our very full cart out to our car, Jade said “wow, you really don’t have to do anything for yourself here in Colombia.” While this is pretty luxurious, it’s not really the lesson that I want the kids to take away from their time here. I want them to appreciate the help we receive (which I try to model by both speaking very appreciatively of our housekeeper’s work but also by thanking her and treating her well and making sure that the kids thank her every time she does something for them) but also to realize that we need to give back.
After my blog re the elementary school kids in the public school across the street from our conjunto who go hungry because their parents can’t afford the $4.50 per month lunch fee, a friend wrote to me and suggested that I put a Paypal link on my blog page to see if any of my friends would be interested in sponsoring a child. I thought that this was a fantastic idea so I am warning all of you now, that I am going to be hitting you all up for lunch money. From my end, Alejandra and I are first going to go to the Chia Council to make sure that the lunches aren’t already being subsidized while somebody is pocketing the money (an unfortunate possibility here). Once we are assured that they are not being subsidized, we will go interview the school to find out how many kids are not receiving lunch and then take it from there…. So stay tuned…