Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Welcome, 2007

Well, we're back. Actually, we returned from holiday on Sunday evening, but we spent yesterday doing various tasks that needed doing. That, combined with my need to catch up on the international and sports news (El Tiempo isn't a great newspaper), meant that I didn't get around to the blog until today. At any rate, the following is a brief description of our holidays:

We left Bogota about 1:30 pm, a bit later than planned but not too bad. I picked up the Grandparents and then Diana from work and we headed out. As we hadn't had lunch, we stopped at a fairly rustic, llanero restaurant. A llanero restaurant serves food typical of the Llanos (or plains) to the east of Bogota, or, in other words, slow grilled/smoked meat. It's delicious. We ate something called chiguido (spell that one for me) which is essentially like a big hampster and another form of meat that I really don't remember the name or have any idea what it was. This reminded me of another experience I had a few months ago with one of my wife's uncles. We were ordering lunch and he asked me if I wanted "ubre". I had no idea what it was and just agreed without thinking. Turns out "ubre" is "udder" and tastes like ass biscuits. Fortunately, I had a combo platter with some real meat and was able to nourish myself suficiently with the rest of my lunch. Ubre is officially off the list of things to eat.

At any rate, while a little nervous about what we were ordering, I ended up quite pleased with the food. It was delicious. So even if I ate oversized rat, it was damn tasty rat.

The ride to Girardot was mostly uneventful. We passed the time talking and counting various things we saw on the road, like burros and Ano Viejos (note: that's ano with an nenye). Ano Viejos are large oversized scarecrow type dolls that are filled with fireworks. It's custom here in Colombia to explode them on New Year's Eve in a symbolic Adios to the previous year. It's also obviously quite dangerous as even the Colombian government is cracking down on them. So we didn't see that many. Our hotel had one, sin (or sans for those frenchies out there) fireworks.

Girardot was hot. Probably in the 90's the entire time we were there. The resort was nice, but not in the Las Americas 5-star on the beach in Cartagena sort of way. Of course, it was a lot cheaper too. We enjoyed our time there swimming, playing games like pool, and relaxing. I spent a good deal of time with my brothers-in-law and Azul (Diana's godson), as well as with Diana. The grandparents spent most of the time sitting in the shade, drinking cool drinks, and sleeping.

On New Year's Eve, the hotel had a party with a live 14-member orchestra (band). It was awesome. You have to have one that size to be able to play Salsa at the least, so we were really fortunate. They played for several hours and we danced as much as we could in the heat and humidity. Overall, it was a blast. Maybe I'll post some photos.

Operation "Keep the hot Colombian sun from scalding my lilly white ass" was mostly successful. I used a lot of sunscreen and only had slightly reddish shoulders when we left. Of course, my wife is now black. She enjoys the sun.

In the hall of assininity, I practically kicked my little toe on my right foot into oblivion one morning. I was playing X-Box with Azul while everyone else was sleeping and somehow managed to stub my toe badly when I got up to go to the bathroom. It was severely bruised and made walking difficult for days. It's mostly better now, although still slightly swollen and sensitive. Most people have accidents like that when they're drunk. But I'm so talented I don't need alcohol to do something that stupid.

We left Girardot on Tuesday and drove to Anapoima. It took about 45 minutes or so as there was no traffic and the two towns are fairly close. If Girardot was in the 90's, Anapoima was in the upper-80's. Cooler, but by not much. Of course, the club in Anapoima is where grandparents feel the most comfortable as it's like Cheers: everyone knows their name. So they were extremely happy to arrive.

The club there is nice. It has a lot of activities for kids and the food is probably better than what we had a Girardot. But, and this is my only real complaint, it has the feel of a previous generation. It's an old club with old buildings and an elderly feel to it. That doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it, it just has a different feel to it. I guess I just don't need people to know my name to feel comfortable on holiday.

More of the family were in Anapoima as well. There were some aunts and uncles and cousins, so we were a bigger group. I did a lot of Sodukos and Diana did a lot of reading and sunbathing. And we enjoyed the time with the family the best we could (there's still a language barrier and they're all basically alcoholics).

On Thursday, 4 of us went into the town to play a truly Colombian game called 'tejo'. Tejo is, essentially, like horseshoes on steroids. There are target "boards" at each end of a track and players have to throw a round metal object at the target to score points. The board is filled with clay so that the metal discus' will stick. There are various rules, not all of which I understand, but the basic goal is to land your throwing peice in the middle of the target. That, however, is extremely difficult, so you end up scoring in other ways. The reason this game is great fun, however, is that there are 4 smallish explosives on the target. And if you hit those and cause an explosion, you get more points and the "heule de victoria" or "smell of victory". Add beer and mix.

We had a great time playing tejo. Diana's uncle referred to the tejo hall as a "Colombian pub". It was an extremely rustic place with a corragated steel roof, a dirt floor, and bathrooms only for men. Women, typically, don't play tejo.

The playing court is free, you just pay for your consumption. Which, the enterprising man that ran the place, made sure we never had a shortage of beers. I believe that our total was 32 beers in 3 hours. Ouch.

At any rate, on my very first toss, hobbled with a painful toe injury, I pulled my left ass. I've never pulled an ass before, but let me tell you, pulling your ass makes everything more difficult. You just don't realize how vital your ass is for walking and sitting until you've pulled it. Of course I didn't stop playing, but it surely didn't make it any easier for me. I'm still not 100%, but at least now I can pretty much walk completely normally. For a few days there I was just hobbling around with the double handicap of a practically broken toe and a pulled ass cheek.

We came back to Bogota Sunday afternoon and that turned out to be a good decision. There was virtually no traffic and the ride was quick. When we got to Bogota the city was empty. Practically a ghost town. I'm sure it would have been terrible on Monday.

All in all it was a good vacation. We relaxed and rested and enjoyed our time together. I pulled an ass and bruised a toe, but those were fairly minor grievances. We did have to fend off the alcoholic side of the family with frequency, but that was also a bit of a minor annoyance. Of course, the mosquitos bit us pretty badly, but it wasn't exactly like vacationing in a swamp (hello Chincoteague). In the end, we really enjoyed it and I know it was great for Diana to have that break before starting the new year at work. Now we're back to our usual routine and I'm trying to sort out my job situation.


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