Posts filed under Adventures in the World

Back to Bogota

Our arrival was the opposite of auspicious. The airport looked unusually busy as we descended through the clouds to Bogotá's bright lights but I shrugged it off and focused on getting off the plane. We'd already been traveling more than 13 hours. The aircrew announced that they had forgotten to get the Customs paperwork for us. Whatever. I rolled my eyes. Airline incompetence, we've all lived it. Then they said "Oh, and we don't have a gate so we'll be exiting onto the concourse. Normally I love exiting down stairs. It makes me feel like a celebrity or similar. Burbank is my favorite airport to arrive to for exactly that reason. I like to step out of the plane dramatically, taking an extra moment to feel the sun shine on my face and shake my hair out. It's the little things, you know.

The stairs in Bogotá were a very different Hollywood experience. I dragged myself and my small son off the plane into... chaos. It wasn't just our plane that didn't have a gate. El Dorado airport is under construction and most arriving planes were exiting without gates. The tarmac was a disaster of planes, people and busses, all sporting flashing lights. It looked like "James Bond: Behind the Scenes". Elian looked at me with wide horrified eyes. We descended from the plane into my first-ever tarmac traffic jam.

Did I mention it was raining?

All of this is to say, it didn't start so well. Colombians like to do things big, so it wasn't just a mess. It was A MESS! There is also construction all over La Septima, the principal street. I swear the first day I thought the whole city was in ruins which, yeah, not the way to start your vacation or reintroduce your son to his hometown.

Isn't this fun? I chirped to Elian as he covered his ears to drown out the jack hammers.

The thing is though that Bogotá is a beautiful city. Even with construction scarring its main streets it is impossible to resist its pristine skies, so crisp and clear after the predictably unpredictable rainstorms and it's magical mountains which rise up straight to the heavens. We had a great couple of days there, hanging out with good friends and drinking coffee every two hours because of course. It's Bogotá! In Bogotá there is always a good excuse to drink more chocolate, stay up later and laugh harder. Even the construction feels hopeful, part of the constant push to make the city better. They close all the main arteries every Sunday for family bicycling. This is a city that rallies.

I fell in love with Bogotá a long time ago. Before it gave me friends like family. Before I married Arnold and before I knew this city would give me my first-born son. I highly reccomend it to each of you. If you know what's good for you, you'll fall in love too.

 

Posted on July 17, 2012 and filed under Adventures in the World, Livin la Vida Loca.

You matter

If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.-Fred Rogers

 

One summer I worked as part of the cleaning crew at a Conference Center. In addition to myself the crew included my friend Rachel, an ex-convict and a young man with mental disabilities. Obviously Rachel and I were thought of quite highly. Despite the boys out-of-the-mainstream pedigree we had fun as a group. The ex-con taught us self-defense using magic markers in place of pocket knives and in our down time we spent the day quoting Beavis and Butthead and listening to 80s mixtapes. Ocasionally if it was super slow, we’d lock a hotel room door, crank up Welcome to the Jungle and jump on the beds.

The work however sucked. Even though I was 19 and energetic, cleaning thirty hotel rooms a day is no joke. The first bed you make is easy; but by the time you’re on the thirtieth your back aches. Wet towels are gross and heavy and people are quite frankly, disgusting. Twelve years later I still have an irrational aversion to making beds.

I’m glad though that I had that job because it taught me that there are so many service jobs that are much harder than they look. I learned to think about the line cook on his feet all day and the hotel maid whose back aches from bending over and cleaning for hours on end.

When I was cleaning hotel rooms ocasionaly people would leave us meager tips of dollar or fifty cents. We would collect these and once a week we’d buy smoothies. Smoothie day was a good day. The smoothies gave us enough to energy to jump on the beds for Welcome to the Jungle and to jam to Footloose.  It wasn’t just the smoothie though, it was what they represented, that there were some people who bothered to recognize the hard work we did.

When I was in Baltimore a few weeks ago I was almost delirious from a sinus infection. Sickness always makes me both emotionally volatile and sentimental and when I walked into my hotel room to find it pristinely clean after a long work day with a splitting headache I was overcome. I walked straight back out of my room found the maid next door and blurted out somewhat bizzarely “Thank you so much for cleaning my room. You did such a good job and I really appreciate it.”

I wish you could have seen her smile.

My point? The things you do matter. The small kindnesses you take the time to express can make a difference. Smoothie day would brighten our spirits after cleaning yet another disgusting bathroom and I like to think that my thank you put a little spring in the hotel maids step. So please, don’t ever think what you do doesn’t matter. You have so much power to make the world a better place, one small courtesy at a time.

 

Posted on April 11, 2011 and filed under Adventures in the World.

Five for Friday Pt. 49-LA Edition

Last week I went to LA for work. I met lots of great people at my site visits and got to hang out with some Torrie and Kat too! I also ate approximately 5 million meals. All of them were delicious. Today's Five for Friday is the LA Food edition. Put on your fat pants, your gonna gain weight just reading this post.

1. 1886 in Pasadena-I was so enamored with my drink and the company that I totally forgot to take a picture, but take my word for it, this bar is top notch. The drinks are creative without burying the licor in sugar or cream. It also has an amazing door that opens and closes with pulley weights giving it a fun speakeasy feel.

2. A/K/A in Pasadena-We had (among other things) portabello fries with truffle aioli. As they were delivered to the table my foodie in crime Katrina said "The aioli is so good, I want to drink it!" She made a drinking motion with her hand, just in case I didn't get it.

I wanted to drink the aioli too. I'll leave you to wonder whether I did, or not.

3. Square One Dining-I saw this on OhJoy!'s blog and thought, "I must eat there." Then I did. It was delicious and changed my life. The end.

4. Mozza Pizzeria-So fresh and so clean. This was reccommended by Torrie. My favorite pizza was a gorgonzola dolce that had rosemary and fingerling potatos. I never tasted the sweetness in gorgonzola dolce until I had this pizza, it was addictive. I wanted to shove my face in the whole thing but it didn't seem polite so I held back, sort of.

5. You tell me! Where do you like to eat in LA? What do I HAVE to eat next time I there? I mean in addition to the places that I already ate...

Posted on April 7, 2011 and filed under Adventures in the World, Bossy Pants Recommends, Five for Friday.

Taxi Cab Chronicles: Antoine’s Fragrances

My time with Antoine didn't seem too promising in the first few minutes. He seemed to be of the polite yet detached variety drivers.  A tall, handsome, middle-aged black man in a well-pressed suit he was a Baltimore native and a town car driver, in short a super-professional: the sort that answer your questions without encouraging further chat. Usually it’s my goal to have a driver become my best friend during the 15-minute drive to the airport but after having battled a wicked and plague of a cold for the past few days I wasn't really up to the task of employing my usual taxi-driver/friend-hostage tactics. I figured Antoine and I would have to settle for a normal client/driver relationship. I settled into my seat and prayed that he would take a break from texting to pay attention to driving me safely.

Then unexpectedly Antoine took ME hostage! “Why are people always trying to sell me fragrances?” he asked me apropos of nothing. “I have so many fragrances. More than 100 and people just keep trying to sell them to me like I don’t already own them!”

I mean, obviously that’s what he said. Who wouldn't start a conversation like that?

I never did ask Antoine about who these neanderthals were who kept insisting he buy fragrances, but wow, did I learn a lot about Antoine’s love for them including how many he owned (more than 100), why he was so into them (an old girlfriend felt insisted on a strict shower than fragrance schedule) and what his favorites were “Christian Dior and Creed”.

The conversation was very weird, I mean, I kept wanting to say, “Why the heck do you keep saying fragrances instead of cologne?” but instead I fed the fire, nodding appropriately and saying, “Wow, it sounds like you really love fragrances” at the appropriate moments in the conversation.

Then alarmingly he thrust his cell phone at me! “See I don’t need more fragrances.”

People, Antoine had what appeared to be a three level bar cart full of cologne bottles. And he had taken a picture of it to show people. “Antoine you weren't kidding!” I exclaimed.

“I know” he said, equally enthusiastic. “I have a lot of fragrances.”

I can’t tell you how it cheers me to know that there are so many wonderful weirdos in the world, and even better that some of that have at their disposal 100 fragrances to fill your world.

Posted on April 4, 2011 and filed under Adventures in the World.

All the Right Moves in All the Right Places

About a week ago my Aunt called to ask me if I had plans for my first night in Denver. And if not, would I like to go to a Fundraiser at the Four Seasons? And oh by the way, it required cocktail attire. Uh, a party and a chance to dress up. Count me in Tia Carolina.

Fresh off my love-fest with Ahmad, my very favorite Sudanese electrical engineer/taxi driver I started getting ready for the party. Then suddenly I got overwhelmed by the simple task of getting dressed. I like looking at fashion but I am not efficient at dressing myself appropriately. For reasons I cannot explain I started over-thinking the whole scenario. What should I wear? Was it appropriate? You'd think I was going to Buckingham Palace the way I was angsting.

I turned to google. Cocktail attire=short dress.

Okay. I can handle that. I settle on the dress I bought for my 30th birthday. It has draping so I can eat all I want and not have to suck in my tummy.

Strategy is important people. Always think about how you are going to look good AND eat.

I'm heading down to the party which technically was the opening of the Four Seasons Denver and the woman on the elevator and I start talking. I like her hair. She likes my jacket. She mistakes me for a student. I pledge my eternal love to her for the unintentional compliment. We're on our way to an Ahmad-like friendmance when we run into (almost literally) Aaron Neville in the lobby. "Oh my GOD" she says "That's Aaron Neville" He replies "Hey sistah" Then she starts wigging out a bit  "I wish I had my camera!" I'm kind of confused and slow but I finally spit out "I do, I have my camera!" so we run after him but we're too late. Bummer.

I thought that was going to be my big blog story of the night, but it wasn't. He has really broad shoulders FYI.

My Aaron Neville delay meant I had to run to the party in my heels. When I get there I'm sweaty, limpy and incoherent. I'm in babble overdrive "Hi Tia Carolina, I saw Aaron Neville, taxi cab drivers, blah, blah, blah" Luckily it's really loud so no one hears what I'm talking about anyway. I meet my aunt and uncle's friends and then I realize... that I'm in the kind of party you see on HBO shows.

There are acrobats hanging from the ceiling and all the women are wearing Herve Leger dresses. Waiters are walking around with lamb chops and truffle risottos. I'm told there was a room exclusively filled with candy. A woman walks by on stilts and there's a red carpet. It was surreal. That's when my Aunt's friend says "There's going to be a band. Have you heard of them? They 're called One Republic."

Uh, what? Yeah, I've heard of them. In fact I hear them on the radio everyday for the last three years.

Are you jealous? Cause I'm jealous of last Saturday night Emily, she had FUN! So we eat, and have lamb chops and chocolate martinis and all matter of deliciousness (thank you DRAPING DRESS) and I'm in the front row of a One Republic mini-concert with a martini-glass full of mashed potatoes. #Truestory.

Incidentally, they rock. Go see them if you are a fan.

After I locate my Aunt and Uncle (who unsurprisingly were not interested in a band they've never heard of) I sit down to chat with someone who I thought was another buddy of theirs. She was from Argentina originally and lives in DC. Perfect, I LOVE Argentina and DC. We talk about her kids (twin girls now grown), East Coast vs. West Coast, how kids adopted from Colombia are the cutest. She gives me some great parenting advice. I talk about how I love the Smithsonian and if I were a billionaire a free-public arts museum would be my legacy too. It's Ahmad all over again. I could've talked to her forever. I had yet another moment of reminding myself that it's weird to hug strangers you've just met.

Turned out though she wasn't a friend of my Aunt and Uncle's, she just happened to be sitting at their table. And she was at the party because her husband worked for the firm that financed the hotel. What? A Four Seasons hotel!  At that moment my Aunt's friend comes over and says "I just ran into the head of Guiness beer".

How did I end up at this party? I am a mid-level civil servant with a toddler. I usually don't hang with financeers.

I should've known though, my Aunt and Uncle might not be interested in listening to rock bands but they have the energy level of rockstars. They always know the cool stuff to do.

Although it was outrageous-cool to see the band and the atmosphere was unreal, at a party it's always about the people you meet. It's about your Aunt's friend with the infectious laugh and the sparkly red glasses and the Argentine woman who agrees that Colombian children are ridiculously cute.  It's about showing off pictures of the little boy you're missing back at home and arguing with your Uncle about whether you are almost as tall as him in your heels. In a taxi cab or at a Four Seasons, it is ALWAYS about the people you meet. Interesting people are everywhere and connecting with them gives me such joy.

It doesn't hurt though, if you end up in an elevator with some rockstars. And I wouldn't say no to a mashed potato bar either. I'm just sayin!

Posted on November 9, 2010 and filed under Adventures in the World.

Sudanese engineers and Argentine financeers

So I'm in Denver right now for work. If you follow me on facebook or twitter you might know that I've been having so much fun it's silly. It all started of with my cab driver. Since I documented my love for them last week I felt almost obligated to accost my driver with friendship. Luckily downtown Denver is a good 1/2 hour form the airport so I had lots of time, because this one was a little... different. He was really starched and pressed and kind of formally quiet. In my experience drivers are usually kind of rumpled (sitting all day will do that to you) and loudly conversing in foreign languages via cell phone.

It seemed this driver was shy, but I don't really see that as a barrier. So I started in with the questions.

Social tip from me: Questions are really the best way to get people talking. Just keep asking people something till they crack. 99% of people like to talk about themselves.

What's your favorite Denver restaurant? Weather, blah, blah. He was polite but not talky. A little difficult this one.

That's when I pulled out my secret weapon: Are you a Denver native?

Obviously I knew he wasn't. Most drivers are immigrants and have the thick accents to prove it, but I feel like asking someone where they are from is rude, it insinuates they don't speak good English. Many people with heavy accents speak perfect English so I don't like to be unintentionally offensive. Anyways, this question was my golden ticket cause turns out my driver was...

A Sudanese electrical engineer who came to Colorado on a full scholarship to University of Colorado, Boulder.

I know! It explained a lot, he wasn't a career driver but merely supporting himself after having been laid off. He of course instantly became my favorite person in the world becuase I love international students. I asked him about Sudan, about how he liked Boulder, about his plans for the future. He said he liked the friendly spirit of the American people but due to the economy (he'd been unemployed for a year, thus the taxi) he was going back to Sudan where he'd found a new job as an engineer. As we speak Ahmad is returning home to Sudan after 8 years in Colorado.

I kind of miss him a little bit already.

We talked forever, about reverse culture shock, learning second languages and how no matter how wonderful the place you go to is, your first home is always, well, home! We were laughing and chatting like old friends, it was awesome. I was really dissapointed when we got to my hotel. I wanted to get Ahmad's info and hang out more, but I'm married and that's both weird and inappropriate so I didn't. I really wanted to hug him and say good luck and I wish you well and thanks for sharing about your life.

That's kind of inappropriate too though so I settled for staring at him in a creepy way as I weighed hugging vs. the more apropos well-wishing. Isn't it amazing though the beautiful stories behind the people you meet? Ahmad and I are really close in age but our lives have been radically different.  Yet still, our paths crossed and we had so much in common. Sometimes life really is beautiful.

Note: I got so carried away with Ahmad that I'll have to leave Part 2 for tomorrow.

Posted on November 8, 2010 and filed under Adventures in the World.

Elian Vs. Arnold

Oh man I have been waiting SO LONG to publish this video!  I can't even tell you how excited I am to share the awesomeness of this epic battle between my beloved son and my sweet husband.  This video was taken at Martiza's parents house our first week in Colombia with Elian.  The whole week was equal parts overwhelming joy and nightmarish struggles. Because the adoption was not yet finalized I chose at that time to only write about the joyful moments but let's get real, it wasn't all fun.  Elian refused to eat anything but yogurt for the whole week among other issues.  Keep this in mind as you see my child battle with Arnold over his sovereign right to EAT ROCKS.  That's right we spent the whole week stressing about his eating only to watch him sneakily try to devour pebbles at the playground.  We watched this video almost every night we were in Colombia and it still makes me laugh hysterically.  ENJOY! PS-I can't believe how much bigger he is now.  Crazy.

PPS - Thank you to everyone who shared their encouraging words and crazy parenting experiences yesterday.  I truly appreciate your support!

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Posted on February 25, 2010 and filed under Adventures in the World, Livin la Vida Loca.

The Signature

Remember when I alluded to last minute drama regarding our ability to secure Elian's visa in time to leave Bogotá together?  Yeah, that was a fun time.  And now I'm going to tell you all about it... While we were in Colombia things went unnaturally well.  We got Sentencia 8 business days after we requested it which is CRAZY amazing.  We even got his birth certificate the same day we got Sentencia thanks to our lawyer's savvy connections.This gave us 5 days to get his visa.  It only takes two.   We were more than golden!  We were home free! I couldn't eat anything but saltines but I was over the moon.  We were on our way home!  And then we weren't.

What we needed was just one thing.  A document from Colombian social welfare that says and I quote "These people adopted this child."  Never mind the birth certificate with our names or the Court Decree saying the same things.  The stupid Hague convention requires this document.

But no big deal?  Colombian Social Services is on it!  They always turn around things super fast. We 'll get the doc and then we go to the Embassy and the next day visa.  Bada-bing.  Bada-boom!  Easy Peasy.  Except this is us, so of course something went wrong.  Actually many things went wrong.  Shall I tell you about them?

Monday: We leave the document to be signed.

Tuesday:  The computer breaks down. No big deal.  They'll do it the next day.

Wednesday:  The ONLY person internationally authorized to sign the paper QUITS HER JOB over some policy disagreement and LEAVES social services.  We are now officially screwed.  Elian and I simultaneously throw tantrums at a Bogotá Shopping Mall.

Wednesday Night:  My stomach ailment mysteriously returns.  I ponder what it will be like to spend a week in Bogotá by myself with Elian and then take a 13 hour flight home with him.  I think the cold sweat is a bad sign.

Thursday Morning:  Nauseous and depressed I return to my all saltines diet while I wait to find out what's going to happen.  I know if we don't have that document by 11 the embassy won't let us in and we'll have no chance of getting the visa until next week.  I look and my baby boy and pep talk myself.  This is a blessing, a special time to spend together... but I don't believe it.  I know it would've been horrible.

Thursday Morning:  Our facilitator calls and says "Get thee to Social Services we are going to track down the head of the dept and get her to sign."  I was like, what?  The head of "Social Services" is kind of the equivalent of trying to track down a member of Obama's cabinet.  Not easy.  When we arrived they said "Oh she'll be here any minute, she's at Casa Narino.  Yeah, Casa Narino is the Colombian white house.  Okay then.  "At least she's not actually with the president!" they add trying to cheer me up.

Thursday Morning 10:30:  Our facilitator starts visibly getting nervous.  Not a good sign as she is a cool cucumber.  She looks at me and makes a decision "We are going to the embassy with Elian.  We will beg the embassy to start processing the visa with the promise that the document is coming.  Arnold is going to stay here and get the signature."  People at social services are fluttering around in a tizzy about our situation.  Alright then, off we go.  I'm officially scared.  It's the first time I've ever seen our facilitator walk quickly.

Thursday Morning: 10:55:  We get into the embassy with 5 minutes to spare.  There are big weird gates that open and close.  They make a sound very similar to Lostzilla.  We're there for a few hours.  They provisionally accept our application.  I try not to throw myself against the service window and faux hug the consul.  My appetite begins to return.

1:30 -No sign of Arnold.  I'm wondering where the hell he is because cell phones are not allowed in the Embassy.  Nor are ipods. Nor are cameras(thus this all text post) It makes the hours you spend there freezing outside like cattle all the more entertaining.

2:00 - We return to Social Services after promising to bring back the document later that afternoon.  We arrive to find Arnold in a hysterical fury.  Social Services neglected to put my name on the document.  And Ms. Cabinet Member has gone into another meeting while the document is being re-written correctly.  Arnold has spent the last four hours wandering the hallways with the plan of launching himself on her if she accidentally steps in to the hall.  All of social services is eyeing him suspiciously.

3:00 pm -Arnold tells me he is going to throw Elian at Ms. Cabinet Member and grovel at her feet if he sees her.  I plan my "begging for mercy" speech to use at the Embassy.  And then our last minute miracle occurs and they FINALLY appear with the document.  I try not to scream with joy.  I am hysterical but not lacking in dignity!

3:30 pm - We turn in the document and finally eat for the first time today.

FRIDAY -We pick up Elian's visa 8 hours before our flight is scheduled to leave.  I'm not ashamed to say that I wept there in the Embassy when they handed it to me.  And when I mean I wept, I don't mean a little, I mean  A LOT.  I may have imagined it but Bogotá suddenly seems to me the most beautiful it's ever been. Pristine clear skies.  I feel like Amelie after she gives the box back to Dominique Brodetau.  Everything is WONDERFUL!

And that my friends is how spend our last two days in Bogota.

Posted on February 9, 2010 and filed under Adoption, Adventures in the World.

St. John the Divine

I once read an article that said "There are two types of girls in the world, those that read Madeline L'engle and those that didn't" I loved that because  Is am the type of girl who read Madeline L'engle and the supposition is that those who do are creative, headstrong, brainy types.  And I love the supposition that I might dare to be considered all of the above.

Madeline L'engle is best known for her children's book about time travel "A Wrinkle in Time" but she wrote A LOT and my favorite book of hers is called "Walking on Water"The book is a meditation on creativity and the Christian life; the vocation of twriting/art. The call to create.  I love that book dearly and read it once a year or so.  In addition to writing 50 or so books during her life she was also a devoted Episcopalian and served as the writer-in-residence at St. John the Divine  Cathedral in New York. St. John the Divine is the largest gothic cathedral in the world and it figures prominently in some of her novels so whenever I get a chance to go to New York I feel compelled, obligated even to visit and watch my childhood stories come to life.

When Arnold and I visited New York last fall on our "last hurrah" before the hurricane we ended up staying directly across the street from the Cathedral.  Everyday as we left Liz's apartment the Cathedral was our great hulking friend bidding us good morning at at night it's flying buttresses watched us head safely back home.  Here are the pictures from that trip and the beautiful building that holds not only a house of worship but my childhood dreams.

Posted on February 3, 2010 and filed under Adventures in the World, Bossy Pants Recommends.

Home Sweet Home

We made it home and while the flight(s) weren't as terrible as I was expecting I can't say that a 13 hour trip with a 1.5 year old is enjoyable either.  And for that matter, nor is the day after a redeye flight with a toddler but you know what?  I was so relieved to be on the plane all together that I could've cared less about the screaming.  (Note to all travelers: There is something worse than being on a plane with a screaming baby and that's being the person whose holding the baby. ) When we arrived in Sacramento and I stood up to de-board several people looked at Elian and nodded their heads as if to say "Oh that's where all that noise was coming from".  I'm glad none of you had to make that trip with us but I can't deprive you of the funner moments of the trip can I?    Here's a small and unthorough "photodocumentary" of our journey home!

Posted on January 31, 2010 and filed under Adventures in the World, Livin la Vida Loca.

Prayers Answered=Homeward Bound

We had a very exhausting and stressful day yesterday securing a signature we needed to get Elian's visa but I'm not going to dwell on that because we got it and we're going home.  TOGETHER!  Praise be to the Lord.  Hopefully when we get home I'll have enough energy to blog about that ordeal.  We finally got his visa today with a mere 8 hours to spare before our departure back home.  And although I've been ready to leave for awhile I'm also sad to leave behind Bogota, our friends here and the wild and wonderful journey we've had together starting our family.  But I know someday we'll be back and the next time I wander these streets this beautiful city will take me on a sentimental journey remembering our first days together as a family.

Posted on January 28, 2010 and filed under Adoption, Adventures in the World.

SENTENCIA!

Yesterday we signed some very important papers.  Today I am very happy to introduce you to our son Elian Emmanuel.  Thank you to each and every person who cared for us, prayed for us and encouraged us through this strange, difficult and wonderful journey.  We love you all. Sincerely, The Perez Family

Posted on January 25, 2010 and filed under Adoption, Adventures in the World.

The Name Game

I think it’s time for a little cultural lesson on names in Colombia.  To start everyone in Colombia has two last names.  i.e Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  His last name is Garcia Marquez.  Garcia is his father’s last name and Marquez is his mother’s last name.  Women in Colombia of my generation usually do not change their names to match their husbands but keep the two last names they inherited from their parents.  Children inherit their names with the same pattern.  So if Gabriel Garcia Marquez marries Isabel Allende Salvador then their child would be called Elian Garcia Allende.

Don’t worry I’m going somewhere with this.  And hopefully somewhere amusing.

A few weeks ago when we were buying our plane tickets to Bucaramanga we were buying them at 3:00pm on Dec. 31st, this is equivalent to trying to buy plane tickets at 4:55 on Christmas Eve.  All the employees are mentally checked out and ready to GET HOME ALREADY.

Enter us!  Ready to buy our tickets with our weird American names. So Arnold gives his name.  Great!  No problem.  Then comes my name and the guy is like What?  What do you mean you have the same last name?  Wh-Why?  Huh?

Apparently the rep’s stress was contagious because Arnold started blurting out random unsolicited information “She has two middle names” The guy is like, I don’t need any middle names but Arnold continues to not pay attention  “Two middle names.  Two middle names!”  Finally I had to step in and say chill…. He doesn’t care about my middle names.  My last name is Perez.  The rep begrudgingly accepts this and we all move on.

Then the guy goes “What’s the babies name” and Arnold goes “Uhhhhhhhh?????”

That’s right, he goes blank because Elian’s name is not his current legal name and multi-tasking information is not Arnold’s forte.   The rep is looking at Arnold as if he’s going to kill him. That’s when I have to intervene again  “Hi name is XX” This proved to be too much for our weary Aerorepublica rep.  “What? You two have the same last name but his is different?”  He starts to eye us as if we are kidnappers.  Then we have to step in with the “Adoption process, blah, blah, blah” explanation.  The rep’s eyes start to glaze over.  He hands us our confirmation number with a look on this face that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me.”

If we were a normal couple… that’s where the story would end but we attract disaster like young women in horror films.

Satisfied with our purchase we sit down at Juan Valdez to celebrate the successful purchase of plane tickets.  Yay!  That’s when we realize that my first name is spelled wrong.  Ruh-oh!

In the US this would be a MAJOR problem so I send Arnold back to Aerorepublica.  It’s now about 5 minutes before their office will close on the eve of Colombia’s biggest holiday.  Elian and I settle in at Juan Valdez and enjoy our tintos while the employees noisly close up all around us.

Five minutes later Arnold returns giggling.  He says “When I told the guy about your name he freaked out.  He started saying Emili, Emily!  If I call her name “Emili” is she going to say “Who is Emily? I don’t know who Emili? is”  NO, SHE’S GOING TO SAY I’M EMILY.  What’s the PROBLEM?”  So yeah, needless to say I now know that in Colombia Emili=Emily and it’s NO PROBLEM!

Posted on January 21, 2010 and filed under Adventures in the World.

A few details

1) Thank you everybody for your kind words and advice from yesterday.  I have to be honest and admit that my recent health problems were actually not that bad. Not fun, but still not that bad.  Nothing compared to some past “health events”: I’m looking at you Mexico City D.F. and Fiona Rojas-Clancy.  Today I’m back on my feet and a steady diet of the two most delicious foods in the world:  Saltines and Gatorade.  Thank God because today was the day the family was going to force me to go see a doctor. 2) Our internet “friend” is still MIA.  His network’s name is Omar.  Please come back Omar!!!  I need to catch up on Modern Family.  On the flip side the waiter at the internet cafe is flirting with me.  When I greeted him today he said "Oh your hands are so cold!  Where's the baby?" A little weird, but still love the personal attention.

3) And in totally un-related news today we found out today that Bienestar’s Family Defender has 3 days to review the file which means it should be back to the judge by Monday by the latest, perhaps even tomorrow.  And then hopefully.  Sentencia!  And Embassy! And Visa!  And back home!  Woo-hoo!  That’s news good enough to kill any amoebas!

4) And of course… your daily dose of Elian.  I would hate to provoke the internet’s wrath by not posting pictures.  And by the internet I mean Em D.

Posted on January 21, 2010 and filed under Adoption, Adventures in the World.

Que lo cumplas feliz!

Remember how it was Arnold's Birthday last Sunday?  Usually his birthday kind of gets swallowed up in the post-holiday hangover but this year with Carmen as my wingman I decided we could do it up right! Surprise party!!!!!

It all started out pretty simple but then as more people got involved I decided it might be better if my organizational contribution might be to "take Arnold out to the movies" so the party could be prepped.  I have to say this was a very smart move on my part.  I avoided a lot of boring discussion about what beverages should be served with cake plus I got to go to the movies.  Miraculously Arnold didn't suspect a thing.  When Carmen called and asked if he was at the door yet he turned to me and said "We better get back now, I think my Mom's tired of being with the baby."  Then he detailed out an elaborate plan for the rest of our night which included taking Elian on a walk and taking Carmen to mass.  Meanwhile I nodded in agreement as I plotted my dastardly surprise birthday plans "Muwahahahaha!'

I have to hand it to the Restrepo-Perez-Carrascal families.  They really know how to surprise the right way!  We opened up that door to a "Happy Birthday" chorus and a never-ending stream of people who poured out of Andres' bedroom.

It was a great day, wish you all could have joined in the fun!

Posted on January 18, 2010 and filed under Adventures in the World, Livin la Vida Loca.