Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Horses, Gentlemen, and Peeled Eyeballs

So, I packed up my life and moved to a South American country most people misspell (dude, it’s Colombia, not Columbia, I have not been hiding out in South Carolina all of this time). Somehow, despite the chaos and subtitled sitcoms, it hasn’t been until recently that the reality of my new life has sunk in.

Case in point: Saturday Matt and I went on a horseback riding trip with some friends. If you’ve ever gone in the US, you sign releases, receive copious instructions, and are supervised every minute. Colombia tosses you onto a horse, gives you a guide, lets you do what you want, and, best of all, two bottles of liqueur come free with the trip. Trail shots! Afterwards, we went out for steaks and bitched about our sore butts. I also discovered the limits of my Spanish: I caught myself saying “voy a montar caballeros” instead of “caballos” - in other words, “I am going to ride gentlemen.” Boy, was I popular! Perhaps I had too many trail shots.

I also got to experience the Colombian health system on Friday when I took my friend Worth to get Lasik surgery. First, we went to his doctor’s office...which turned out to be in a completely different part of town from where the surgery was actually going to be performed. We got back in a cab and crawled across town (including one exhilarating shortcut through a mountain shantytown/police station/point where we thought about pretending to be Canadian). We arrived an hour late...only to discover that the doctor would not show up for another 20 minutes. Latin America rules. Worth was led into a tiny little room in back, and I waited, drank coffee, and chatted with some of the ladies - several of whom thought I was Worth’s wife or mistress. I thought about blowing their minds and saying Worth was MY mistress, but instead I laughed and explained that he’s a friend.

Also, a couple weeks back, Matt and I had the first big party of our married career. Mardi Gras, complete with shrimp creole, red beans and rice, and (of course) jambalaya. I also served up three batches of Jell-O shots for the Colombians to try for the first time and the Americans to guzzle with abandon. We also hired the Ambassador’s bartender for the evening, known to women here as “David, the cute one.” The party ended at 3:30, with Matt’s former boss and some friends cavorting to Bon Jovi in masks and top hats. I had spent about a week on the decorations, which have now been up for almost two weeks. It’s the diplomatic equivalent of those people who take down their Christmas decorations in February.

In other news, my stuff got here last week. I am now fully aware of how much I own, as it’s completely covering the living room in semi-organized stacks. The maid hasn’t been able to set foot inside there for a week. I’ve spent the last two days trying to organize our books, unfortunately, every time I do so Matt finds a neat book he absolutely has to show me then and there, or has the nerve to offer an opinion on household organization. This completely derails me, and I’m convinced that the books will just sit in stacks until our next post.

Finally, speaking of our next post, we got our bid list last week. We have to submit ten bids for posts that are either English or Spanish-speaking, plus one to five random places. We’re so far basing our decision process on places with funny names. Windhoek, Suva, Ashgabat, Bujumbura, here we come!

That’s it for this week - tune in next Tuesday to find out who won: me or my shoe collection.

Pet Peeve of the Week: As I've said before, I live in Colombia, not Columbia. Please stop sending me emails asking me about life in South Carolina. Uh...Go Gamecocks?