Not very modest of me but I am very proud of myself. I drove into Bogota today with my friend as co-pilot! I battled the traffic and the potholes and emerged in one piece! I know it’s hard to relate to unless you have been to a developing country with crazy drivers, but this is a big deal. I can finally get around on my own and have more independence! I have been waiting for this moment since we arrived and I am so happy that it is here. And not a moment too soon since Saige and I are invited to a birthday party on Friday in Bogota. Now I can get us there.
On a different note, I am still trying to get the hang of time here. My gringa head just doesn’t get it. OK, so everybody is perpetually late. We are invited to a kid’s birthday party at 3 pm; show up at 3:45 pm and are the first people there. Fine. I get it, I think. What becomes a bit harder to get is that people invite you to the birthday party two or three days before the party. The first time this happened I thought that it was an oversight, that they forgot to invite us and then remembered at the last moment. But no, that seems to be how it is done here. Which is fine I guess (not like we have such a full social calendar here) but I am always scrambling for gifts at the last minute.
And then there are situations like the birthday party we were invited to by one of the neighbors a few weeks ago. The party was scheduled for 3 pm, exactly the time that our hosts decided to go to the store and pick up some drinks. And then they got sidetracked and stopped by the mall. The party finally started at 5 pm. They said that it would be a small party so Esteban and I assumed that we were the only non-family members invited; thus, they were flexible with the start time. But no, we got there around 5 pm and there were about twenty people there. Apparently they just showed up at some point and waited for the hosts. I really don’t get this system.
Oh and today, Siena came home from school and told me that school actually doesn’t end this Friday, but next Friday. I thought she was mistaken since I just confirmed with her teacher this morning that this Friday is the last day. Well, Siena is right. The school administrators changed their mind today, 2 days before the end of the school year, and decided that school should go on an extra week. I asked our nanny when her daughter’s school ends and she said “I don’t know. Her school hasn’t decided yet what the last day is going to be but it’s sometime in November.” How do they make any plans here? I bet you can all see how my gringa mind is struggling with this. We are all about plans in the good ole US of A. They clearly aren’t about plans here.
How does anybody get anything done you might want to know (or at least I do)? Well, not very effectively from my viewpoint. We finally had the party planning meeting at school today. This is the meeting to get parents’ and teachers’ input on next year’s gala that I am basically in charge of. This meeting has been planned and rescheduled three times. After all this hoopla to get things going, I was the only parent who showed up to the meeting! It was just me and all of the teachers. The school director kept making excuses for why nobody showed up (it’s raining; we must have picked a bad time, etc.) and referring to me as the parental representative. Me? I don’t know anybody here. And I certainly don’t seem to know how things are done.
In fact, all we managed to get done at this meeting was to explain to the teachers that there is going to be a party and that we need to get parents involved. Really?!? Eight people had to stay after school for this? As we were wrapping up, the school director asked me if I had any thoughts on all of this or anything to say on behalf of the parents. I wanted to say “well, how about we find a core group of interested parents, talk to them privately, get their buy-in and get things moving” but I could hear Esteban in my head saying “remember, relationships here are much more important than getting things done”. So I just demurred with “I am new to all this so I am just listening and taking it all in. Whatever I can do to help. Blah, blah, blah.”
OK, thanks for listening to me vent. I need to get it out of my system but believe it or not, I actually am starting to feel somewhat at home here. It’s a good life!