Sunday, February 27, 2011

February 25, 2011

February 25, 2011
I hit the breakfast “Casino” at 5:30 am (same scrambled eggs, fruit and bacon as yesterday) and was told to miss the 5:55 am bus in favour for the 6:55 am bus to an all-day orientation a block away. Alone and confused I got on the bus which went all around the area before depositing me at the middle school next door. But far be it for me to question the process so I met with my new translator Vanessa. She put a headset on me and translated as the instructor, Manuel went through the powerpoint presentation.  Her dialogue included numerous and somewhat funny, loud but derogatory remarks about Manuel. We were joined by about 30 very nervous new hires who’s passing mark decided if they got to start or not and several were here for their second and last chance. Our bus was supposed to take us to another camp for lunch but not surprisingly didn’t show up so I convinced Vanessa and a couple others to come to my camp and we bs’d our way in. We ordered overcooked prawns on yellow rice and Vanessa was able to track our bus down for the journey back to the school. We finished by 5:30 pm with Vanessa giving us all the answers to the two tests we had to do and I managed a bus ride back to the compound, a cold shower (like there’s a choice) and a walk to explore the local flora and fauna. I surprised a very large iguana from under the overgrowth and took photos as I walked through an anthill with penny sized red ants in my sandaled feet.
The showers here consist of a cold water pipe running out of the ceiling with a 120 volt cord attached to two terminals on the showerhead. I suppose there is a small element inside and when the water makes contact, and in theory heats up the water as it dribbles on to you. In practise, they had to turn the power off because when a shift comes in, the whole country goes dark.  So my showers consist of stepping under the Fawcett, squealing like a little girl and stepping out before lathering up and doing it a second time. Nothing like our 40 gallon heaters at home.
When I learned I was coming to Columbia, one of my biggest consolations was the opportunity to wake up to fresh mountain grown, dry roasted in the sun and ground-by-a-donkey coffee. In fact, I have yet to have a good cup of coffee and what we are supplied with is bottled Nescafe instant coffee which disappoints me to no end.

7:55 pm
I had a silent dinner of thinly sliced porkchops, ensalada and my choice of papas (french fries) or papas (mashed potatoes). Not bad and the quality of the food could be rated as just like left overs.
As I sit, I am in the narrow court yard between our huts looking up at the wireless antennae with prayerful eyes. Its rapidly blinking green lights offer more than its deadly slow signal. In fact, there is a lonely toad making its way across the ceramic tiles in front of me.
After half an hour and not even one page loaded, I think I will attend my lonely room and read a book. I do have a 32” flat screen in my room which was a condition of my contract, though ironically the few channels available are all in Spanish. Mind you CNN is on but one can only watch so much of that.