Thursday, April 26, 2007

What?! No way. Wow.

This is such an unbelievable story, it still blows my mind to think about it. When I decided to propose to my wife last year, I also decided to dedicate myself to make sure she's happy. I have done everything for her. I have supported her, both emotionally and financially, I have been faithful, loving, patient, understanding, fun, sexually satisfying, basically everything that a good man should do to the woman he loves. When she brought the idea to my attention last fall to take her to the US early, meaning she stays there while I finish my obligations here in Bogota, I was initially excited about it. At the time, she had a lot of maturing to do, a lot of personal growth to do, and a lot of independence to acknowledge. I knew it would be tough living apart and doing the long distance thing, but I knew that it would ultimately benefit her.

At some point, I recall one of my co-workers jokingly saying that she was going to meet some other guy. I never believed it because she had so much to risk and so much to lose: her new life in a new country, new opportunities, new friends, and a clean slate. I thought that it would be absolutely ridiculous for her to do something leave me for someone else. And that is exactly what she did. Within six weeks of the day I left in January to return to Bogota, she fell in love with her boss.

So we're divorcing. It'll be her second (and something tells me that it won't be her last) and my first (and last). She'll be returning to Bogota sooner rather than later. Apparently, her new man has promised her that he would come after her and marry her here. Little does he know that the only way that a US citizen can marry a Colombian citizen is if he or she is a legal resident of Colombia for at least six months continuously. Unfortunately for him, the maximum amount of time a US citizen can spend visiting Colombia is 90 days. Whatever. It's not my problem anymore.

I am still stunned that she could be so incredibly stupid and insecure about being alone. I'd like to say that I'm heartbroken but that hasn't really set in yet (if it even does). I'm still on the aghast high right now. I did absolutely nothing wrong. I fought the good fight. I did everything I could to help her make the right decisions and give her the advice she needed. It was ultimately her insecurities and her bad choices that ended everything. (Her new nickname is The FC.)

Friday, April 20, 2007

Time Fixes Everything

During the first week of February, I had the idea of giving a pop quiz to my 7th grade students when they had poor discipline. (Granted, I don't like to give academic punishments for disciplinary purposes, something my first supervisor Ana Maria taught me, but in this school it is widely and effectively used as an discipline-controlling tool and it works for my classes as well.) Since I teach both 7th grade Physics/Chemistry and Biology, I thought it appropriate to exercise the 'cross-curricular activities' preached by the administration and ask a question directly related to both Biology and Chemistry.

The students were learning about both the process of photosynthesis (in Biology) and chemical equations (in chemistry). So one of the questions on the pop quiz was: 'Name all the parts of the chemical equation for photosynthesis.' I didn't ask for the concentrations (i.e. I didn't ask that they know that there were six molecules of carbon dioxide), only the names of the molecules of the products and the reactants (carbon dioxide plus water using sunlight and energy from the sun produces oxygen and sugar). The students practically shit themselves with frustration. 'You can't ask a biology question in chemistry!' 'This is not fair!' I actually thought it was a legitimate question, seeing as how they recently learned the information (it was literally within the week prior, according to their Biology teacher).

The students complained to me, complained to my supervisor, and complained to each other. Then the supervisor and I spoke about it and concluded that the quiz was not unfair. Fast forward to yesterday when said supervisor comes up to me the day the bimester grades were to be turned in and asks me to not include the grade for the quiz. His reasoning was that the teacher of Biology for my class had not taught the topic of the chemical equation for photosynthesis. Apparently, his belief was that I wouldn't remember what the teacher told me and students themselves had said to me during class, that they had learned the information before my quiz and the quiz was fair. Rather than fight a losing battle and make his job difficult, I made a mental 'whatever' to myself and said ok.

Another, more serious, example of how time fixes everything is the case of Juan Camilo Prieto. Juan Camilo is a 6th grade student with learning difficulties. I didn't know he had learning difficulties until the first parent-teacher conference in October of last year, when his mother approached me and explained the situation. I suggested that the Head of Year (in charge of all 6th grade students) become involved so the three of us could collaborate as to what the best approach would be to teach the student (sometimes the student can do modified versions of the work in the class to best suit his abilities). I filed a report for the student and gave it to the Head of Year suggesting a meeting with the parents to discuss a fair approach to the students (the responsibility of the HoY). I have yet to attend any meeting. The HoY has completely ignored the situation. Meanwhile the student continues to underachieve and I have no choice but to treat him as an equal student, even though he has been diagnosed with a learning disorder.

Does this kind of bullshit happen often in schools in the U.S.?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Looking More Forward

I began thinking about why I don't really want to be here anymore and I concluded that there are many more freedoms which exist in the states. I can see Andrea and I in Denver or Los Angeles and just waking up in the morning, deciding to get out, strapping the mountain bikes to the top of the car, packing a lunch and drinks, and spending the day in the mountains above the LA basin or the beaches, or biking around one of the hundreds of bike trails in the metropolitan area of Denver. I can see us strapping on the snowboards and going to spend the day in Winter Park or Mammoth.

I miss having choices of things I love to do, outdoorsy stuff. I miss having a bike that is my size and is comfortable. I miss snowboarding. I'd like to learn how to Rollerblade. The logistics of doing things outdoors here are much more complicated (with the exception of Sundays from 7am to 2pm and even then you're limited to the streets designated to the Ciclovia). Maybe I just don't know about any mountain biking trails around the Andes mountains here, if there are any. But not having a car limits a person tremendously regardless of what city you live in or how well-designed the city is for car-less travel.

It's true I'm much more conscientious about my health being married to a personal trainer/fitness instructor. But what I think got me thinking is something my dad said recently which was that he started weight training and paying attention to his physique at about the same age I am now. I still don't see myself attending any gyms but I do see myself doing much more fun, athletic, outdoor activities in my near future. Maybe that's why I'm thinking more and more about getting out of here and starting again.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Looking Forward

I got back last night from a 10-day visit to the states. On my last evening there, I realized that I had no desire to return to Bogota. In fact, I was looking forward to it with dread. I knew then and there that it was time to go and I am going into survival mode: keep busy, eat right, don't look at the clock or the date too often, and do my job.

I left Andrea in Tucson not yet knowing what she will do for the next 10 weeks before I move back to the states; she mentioned that she was thinking of moving back to Bogota with me for that time, she also mentioned staying in Tucson to start a business with some friends she met while moving out of my parents' house to find her own place. I'm sure she'll decide on something soon.

The thought of leaving her again made my heart ache. I haven't felt that pain in a long time. It was more than just the pain of leaving her, it was also the worry that she will be alright. We made the decision to postpone the wedding until further notice. That may ultimately mean something or it may not mean anything. She explained that she wasn't ready to go through such a formal ceremony and, like always, I support that decision thinking that it is best for her. I understand that she's going through a difficult time (like me) but for different reasons. She's changing and she thinks this period of growth is best done in the solitude of aloneness, around no one familiar around. I don't completely know how to define that, only she does. And rather than put my foot down with selfish demands and ultimatums and impede this process, I have to step back and let her find herself. I feel very vulnerable doing this, like I'm putting it all at risk. All things being equal, I'd rather be there to help her and give her the emotional support she needs. I guess I am more worried about how everything will be when I return, after some time alone and more time apart from her. I know that when I return, it won't be the same as before, when we met, got to know each other, fell in love, and got married in Bogota. I can only hope that it's a somewhat different version of the most satisfying, most enjoyable, and most amazing time of my entire life.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Empty TV Part IV

I uploaded another video I have been working on. It's nothing really exciting, other than the fact that it plays to a great song. Enjoy.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Yankee Fuera!

Today I went down near the city center to witness the protest of Bush's arrival to Bogota. I received an email from a friend saying the festivities would begin around 11am but seeing as how nothing around here ever starts on time I left my apartment at 11am and got down there around noon. Just as the fun started. I was greeted by about a thousand people screaming 'Yankee Fuera' (Get out, Yankee!) holding up signs reading 'Fuera Bush' and 'Boycott the USA'. Armed military arrived shortly thereafter in full riot gear (with one armored vehicle) to essentially stir up the cauldron and receive flying debris like rocks, chunks of concrete, and sticks.

I only stuck around for about 20 minutes after the riot police started pushing demonstrators down the road and tensions started to increase. After I started walking away, maybe five minutes after I left (300 meters down the street) two explosions could be heard. People scattered and screamed, traffic stopped; I noticed everyone was running toward where I was standing. I jumped on the first bus I could find (which was the only bus in sight), along with about a dozen other fleeing protesters, and we all got out of there. Not before I got my first whiff of tear gas. It lives up to its name. Good times.

Raw footage of movies I took down there are uploaded onto YouTube.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Empty TV Part III

The follow-up video from my trip to Quindio, Colombia is now uploaded onto YouTube. Enjoy.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Kicking (Coffee) Treetops

I just returned from a week-long field trip to the coffee-growing region of Colombia called 'Zona Cafetera.' The school sent almost all of the 125 7th grade students (some chose not to come), their respective homeroom teachers, and a gaggle of security people. I had never been there before but was told by many people that it was worth seeing. And it was. We stayed on a huge plantation called Combia for 5 days and did various activities.

The first day was getting used to the surroundings, which included a swimming pool and enough rooms to house everyone 3-4 to each room. In the first afternoon, the students learned the intricacies of a coffee plantation and learned how time-consuming and difficult it is to hand-pick ripe coffee beans.
The second day we went to a place called Valle de Cocora, a very picturesque place where the students did a long nature hike where they had to challenge themselves physically and mentally plus learn how to work as a group. The guides, from an outfit called 'Bluefields', lead students along the trail which culminated in a huge lunch of fried fish and patacon, which is plantain mashed into a flat, crispy wafer, then fried.

The third day, the group was split up into two different activities. One group went to a facility which manufactures bamboo arts and crafts and make Rainsticks. The other group went to a place called Canopy de los Caracolies, which loosely translates to a series zip-wires in a forest of trees called Caracolies. One group went camping after the day's activities and the following morning went kayaking (the other group went the following evening to camp and kayak).

The last day the kids went to a nearby school where they integrated and shared activities with the locals. Kids painted murals, played sports, cooked desserts, formed a musical group, and acted out commercials.

All in all the trip was fun. There were a few problems with kids' behavior (one kid was actually sent home early for causing trouble) but generally speaking, the kids, the teachers, and the guides all got along well. Good times.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Last one on the toilet is.....!

For those of you interested, eggs, if kept at room temperature, only last about 2-3 weeks maximum. I'm currently learning that the hard way.

Sunday, February 11, 2007


I recently went online investigating what the feasibility would be to live in Australia. After reading entry after entry of my friend Dave's online journal and his year-long travels and experiences around New Zealand, I realized that I will not be personally satisfied until I (at least) make every attempt I can to fulfill my dream of living in that part of the world. So I went online and found, purely by chance, this site which rates my likelihood of being awarded a visa for Andrea and I. Collectively, we scored 120 and apparently, if I pay the $299 fee, I can find out within the next six to twelve months if the visa can be awarded to us to live and work there. Now neither she nor I are ready to move there within that time period because I'd really like for her to get her permanent (non-conditional) residency visa for the states which is a two-year process after she first arrived.

Personally, I have yet to find a place where I feel like I'm home; a place to live where I could live in financial comfort with the job I have, a place where it is easily accessible by car or plane without costing a fortune; a place that has friendly and open-minded neighbors, a good mix of different cultures and languages, and offers plenty of activities to meet my interests. Maybe I've found the place, lived there and left because it wasn't the right time for me to be there. The San Francisco Bay area comes to mind. I'd like to live there again, just not as a teacher. In fact, of the places I would like for us to live in the U.S., I don't see how we could live on a teacher's salary.

Something that just occurred to me as I finished watching An Inconvenient Truth for the umpteenth time (Did you know Al Gore was recently nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize?), I can predict that many of the domestic issues that have been largely ignored by the powers-that-be will be depicted and brought back into the forefront of people's lives through movies and documentaries made in Hollywood. Education, poverty, homelessness, corruption, disease... I can almost guarantee that a documentary will be made of one of these domestic problems and something will be done about it. Why wait for it, maybe I'll make my own documentary about the educational system in the US.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Recluse and Fancy Free

I'm back in Bogota and have been living solo for the past two weeks. Many of the people I work with tell me I'm 'free', meaning the wife is away and I can basically do what I like. I enjoy their little efforts of fishing around for the real reason why I don't join them in social gatherings (one hypothesis was when someone mentioned that Andrea 'had me on a [short] leash'). I see it as a weak way of someone trying to find the answers to my behavior or decisions I make without directly asking me, but at the same time looking cool in front of their friends. Some try to figure me out (men, mostly, I've noticed) by making these types of comments, trying to elicit some sort of response, whether it be defensive or jovial or agreeable. I don't give them any indication of my way of thinking. I think it frustrates them. Who knows.

The truth of the matter is I don't have any interest in going out with most of them; they don't seem too interesting to me. Maybe I'm not giving them a chance. Again, who knows. My frame of mind right now is to throw myself into as much work and as many projects as I can to pass the time, save as much money as possible to leave here debt-free. Go from one thing to another with no down time. This country has nothing more to offer me, as far as I'm concerned and I was ready to leave six months ago. Still needing a change.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Empty TV Part II

I just finished a video of Andrea's experience moving from Colombia to the U.S. Check out the video here. Or you can just see it here. Either way, enjoy.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

More Photos From Tucson

We went and had dinner with my old and good friend Melissa (formerly known as Tingle) Dojaquez and her husband Francisco (Fran). I finally met their beautiful daughter of 2 years, Annie, and found out that another bun was in the oven. Congrats to you guys.

An old hangout of Eduardo and mine called Breckenridge Brewery is no more. It has apparently been totally demolished. There is currently no evidence that it was ever there. Its location is now being occupied by a Chase bank. Bummer.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A Stroll Down Amnesia Lane

I'm currently in Tucson and happened to drive by our old apartment (from when Eduardo and I lived together). So many memories, parties, times up on the roof drinking and listening to the trains, inside jokes. Good times. (Notice the 'for rent' sign out front.)

Sunday, November 26, 2006 the rescue!

Andrea and I are currently within three weeks from leaving Colombia and arriving to the states. I have been very stressed lately for what has been going on, making sure we have everything ready, making sure Andrea is taken care of, but mostly trying to organize transportation for while we were there. We needed to buy a used car, both to travel north and for Andrea to have while she was living in Tucson. I felt horrible asking my friend Chris in Hermosa Beach to look for a used car for us amidst his busy schedule of fixing cars building cars and traveling and working as a mechanic with different car racing teams. Trying to do all of this long distance had been difficult.

Our original plan was to buy a used car, most likely an older Acura from the early 90s so that Andrea and I have a way to get up the coast to Oregon for Christmas with the Fiallos' and then back to Tucson for New Year's Eve. (This model Acura has a very good reliability record for those interested in a good used car). The car would be Andrea's for the 6 months she is with my parents in Tucson and then ours when I return to the states next July.

Things have changed for the better since this afternoon. I received a call from the family, who are currently at my brother's house for the Thanksgiving weekend in Seattle, and was quickly passed to Stu, who is Randi's (Larry's wife) father. Stu proceeds to tell me that he has a 2000 Ford Focus Station Wagon and would like to know if Andrea and I are interested in it. When I asked him how much he was selling it for, he replied 'for free'. I was shocked. I had never been offered a gift so generous and kind in my life and was at a loss for words. I thanked him and told him that we was very interested in his car and would organize a way to pick it up while Andrea and I were in California. In a daze, I was passed to my brother, my dad, to Randi, then back to my mom thanking all of them.

To make matters even more fortuitous, my good friend Danielle was there for us this evening. I was then intending to rent a car online this evening when I realized that I didn't have all of my current credit card information. My cc is to expire at the end of the month and Danielle was nice enough to email me the new number. However, in her haste, she forgot to give me the new expiration date. While online, reserving a rental car for a ten-day period between December 17th and the 27th, I called her on her cell phone. She was visiting her new boyfriend in Florida at the time and driving to his house. When she answered and I explained my predicament, she interjected with her plans to be in Denver, then in Texas during the time we were renting a car and offered Andrea and I to borrow her car, instead of renting one. She is going to contact her parents to confirm that it is possible and get back to us.

Monday, October 16, 2006

The New Empty-TV

Here's the latest video I put together.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


What happens when you find yourself always looking forward to everything? Lately I've been finding myself saying things like, 'only one more day until...' or 'in two more weeks...' and 'by this time in two months, I'll be...'

I've also been thinking about whether or not being a teacher is the right career path for me. I realized recently that being a teacher is one of the few jobs that exist where someone can put so much time and effort into, yet see very little (if any) payoff. In the past 3 years, I've averaged between 22 and 25 hours of classroom teaching. Additionally, I must spend anywhere from on the average of 4-6 hours every day of the week outside of the classroom either planning classes/labs/activities, grading papers, in meetings, or taking classes to become better at what I've been debating about even doing. And what do I see as a result? Parents coming in telling me that their child is a genius and asking me why their failing. Students who bitch about things being too difficult. Mediocrity, apathy, ignorance, blah blah.

Could all these ramblings be symptoms of the change that I've been desiring for for awhile now? Could this mean that I am due for another career change (I was in the environmental consulting business for about the same amount of time before becoming a teacher), or could this all just be me overthinking things?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Times they are a-changin'

This morning Andrea and I went to the US Embassy here in Bogota to ask for a residency visa for her. We couldn't have been more prepared because we had all the documents we needed (or so we thought - more later on that). We double- and triple-checked to see if everything was in order and it was. Props go out to mom who stepped up and decided to sponsor Andrea when she arrives. I, too, will be her sponsor as I am her husband.

After the initial wait of about an hour, we stepped up to the first bulletproof window and Andrea communicated with the Colombian woman behind it via jailhouse phone. The woman mentioned that we were missing a document but instructed us to drop off the papers nonetheless and proceed to another area. Unshaken, we then waited for about 4 more hours, during which many people were sent home visa-less for of whatever reason. I concluded after the third hour that the longer the wait, the better off you are.

At about 1130am, Andrea's name was butchered over the loudspeaker by a gringo employee and we were called to another bulletproof window. The man began speaking to Andrea via jailhouse phone and after a few moments she passed the phone to me because she couldn't understand everything. It appeared that the missing document was important, but not so much to deny her her visa. Basically what happened was, as a sponsor and unbeknownst to both of us, I too needed to fill out an Affidavit of Support Form I864 (like mom did as a sponsor) and submit that to the embassy as well. The man told me to inform Andrea that she can return to the embassy any time before September 19th with the form (and a letter from me stating that I haven't paid federal income taxes in the past 5 years) and she will be awarded her visa.

She's returning tomorrow.

This afternoon we began pricing tickets for the both of us to return to the states in December. And Andrea has informed me that the pressure is on for her to improve her English as well as complete the ISSA certification before then. Apparently, when she feels the pressure is when she performs best. I believe her.

Friday, August 11, 2006

The cost of the war in Iraq

You may already have known this, but I didn't. Imagine where this money can be better utilized.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Some photos from marathon day

Andrea before the race starts sporting a lovely ensemble.

Whereas I am wearing a 15-year-old pair of volleyball shorts.

Plaza de Bolivar was packed. This is only part of the people that would fit in the frame.

We could barely walk after the race was over. All in all it was a good day.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

1 hour, 10 minutes

Today was the sixth annual Bogota Media Marathon. Andrea signed herself and I up for the 10 km run (there was an optional 21 km run also) and the day couldn't have been nicer to be outside, bright sunshine and very clear skies. I had run one other 10 km (it's actually 12 km) for competition, it was the Bay to Breakers while I lived in San Francisco (I recall finishing in under an hour. 50 minutes, I think). For this run, neither Andrea nor I properly trained for this event but I knew beforehand that she would finish ahead of me. The 10 k race started precisely at 11am, which was a bit strange for around here, and Andrea and I were immediately separated. We expected that to happen because she and I have different paces.

So after about 10 minutes of winding our way through the historic downtown streets of Bogota, the race opened up and the men were separated from the boys. I exerted a little too much energy weaving my way through the human walls of people and by the time I got to the third km I started to feel tired. But I pushed on and settled into a nice rhythm. I had to slow down to a walk a few times but I eventually reached the home stretch. This is where it got stupid.

So there we are thousands and thousands of people running in the same 10 k race at roughly the same time and the finish line was at a park called Simon Bolivar (the photo really doesn't do it justice as to how large it actually is). The home stretch was about 500 meters long, downhill and the you could see the finish from the top.

I had this vision at some point during the final stretch of me crossing the tape in some dramatic fashion like Jesse Owens in the Olympics in Germany or in the movie Chariots of Fire. Not this time. Not today. By the time I woke up from this fantastic finish I was envisioning, I saw that there was this wall of thousands of people trying to cross the finish at the same time because the space by which to cross was reduced to mere 7 meters (20 feet) in width. Whoever designed this finish line needed to crack open his industrial design books once more.

So me and thousands of my closest friends and I stop on a dime and my muscles immediately tense up. And for those of you who have ever competed in a running race, or have even done treadmill work or have run outside for exercise know that when you stop exerting so much energy, you need to slow down gradually, either at a slower running pace or a fast walk so that your muscles don't tense up. Again, not today.

So I march amongst the sweaty runners for another 10 minutes until it opened up to this enormous amphitheater filled with music, gatorade and water stands, food, and tens of thousands of people. I find Andrea (who finished about 10 minutes ahead of me) after playing phone tag with her and we quickly left.

Chalk off another thing from the 'to do' list in Bogota. Photos to come later.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

For Those Watching Their Food Consumption

Jumping on the fast food nation bandwagon, Andrea recently found a website that you may want to remember next time you are pressed for time and want to grab lunch or dinner (or breakfast as the case may be) on the go. It lists all of the major fast food chains in the United States, their menus, and nutritional information such as: number of calories, fat, carbs, and proteins in each serving. Everything from the Breakfast Burrito at Burger King to the steamed lowfat milk you put in your Starbucks Iced Cappucino (tall). Take a look. It's not a 100% complete menu list in some cases, and may not have promotional foods, but at least it gives you a good idea.

(Without going into too much detail, you can do a rough daily calculation of how many calories, proteins, carbs, and fats you can consume, based on your lifestyle (i.e. sedentary to extremely active), your age, height, current weight, and your goal (i.e. to maintain, lose or gain weight). There are tons of websites like this, all with more or less the same information.)

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Gearing up

The past couple of days I've been mentally planning for my upcoming trip back to the states: what I have to and want to bring back and for whom, the dreaded 12+ hour trip (through Newark this time, a first for me), where I'll be staying and with whom in Los Angeles and North Carolina, the things I must buy and want to buy because they don't exist down here (or are too expensive), the road trip to Arizona and Las Vegas to register my fingerprints (to facilitate finding teaching jobs in those states as well as California), items that must get fixed (laptop, pocket watch) because they cannot be fixed here (or are too expensive), and the time spent relaxing in the sun at the beach. Of course, I'll be communicating with Andrea on a regular basis via Skype, which makes that much easier.

I leave here July 1st in the morning and return July 18th. I'm looking forward to seeing some people.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Personal Space and Sidewalk Etiquette

Having been car-less for the past 6 years and living in a city where so many people rely on public transportation and walking, I have to finally comment on personal space and sidewalk etiquette in general. And this can be applied to most cities, I think. Let's say you are walking back from the grocery store with 25 pounds of grocery bags tugging at your rotator cuffs and the sidewalk has a fair amount of people on it. How would you react if you saw me bearing down on you, walking in the opposite direction? The typical, logic thinker would move out of the way realizing that a man of my stature carrying a small refrigerator's worth of food has the right-of-way. Not here. Certainly not here.

Now being one of these logical thinkers, I can justify a certain percentage of these head-on encounters by someone not paying attention for whatever reason; maybe they're talking to a friend who is with them or they may be talking on the phone, whatever. But no, most of these encounters (I've realized recently) are people minding their own business walking in the opposite direction and just completely ignoring my presence. Leaving me to negotiate their presence by shifting my weight and whatever weight I happened to be carrying so they can pass by unscathed.

Which brings me to my other complaint about sidewalk etiquette and that is this dependency that people have where they have to walk next to one another in a group of three or more people. I'm sure many have you seen these moving human walls holding hands or connected arms coming at you in the opposite direction leaving you with the responsibility of getting out of their way. Yes, God forbid that anyone in the group should have to fall behind another and walk single file for six paces. I've never been so aware of my personal space in society until I came here and began walking the streets. It has come to the point where that is exactly what I do: walk in the street rather than on the sidewalk. It just seems to be easier that way.

One more little sidenote about personal space. The library in the school I currently work at (which is rare for a school to have a library in these parts) had recently been constructed to a two story section because the roof is vaulted. The finished product has left the ceiling for the lower level to be (exactly) my height, 6 feet 5 inches tall, and the upper level even shorter in some parts. Do you want to know how many times I've hit my head on the ceiling in this library? Zero. Why? Because I'm completely aware of my personal space and where and how I move my body.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Who Knew

This past Friday I was married to Andrea Aguirre in Notary Public #5, Bogota, Colombia. Having never been married, much less married in a Notary, I didn't know what to expect but Andrea advised me that it would be very informal. Andrea and I were accompanied by some good friends from my previous school and Andrea's father. We had to wait about 45 minutes for reasons unknown, then were ushered into an office where we sat at a very old desk. Then a very obese, middle-aged gentleman who had an advanced case of emphysema and was rank with cigarette smoke, sat down heavily, read our names, and asked if I understood Spanish. He then proceeded on a 10-minute monologue about the importance of marriage, how to treat each other, respect one other, and any future offspring we may have. We signed a couple of documents and that was that.

Mom and dad arrived later that evening by plane to meet their new inlaws, celebrate with us and, most importantly for my dad to meet Andrea for the first time. Many translations ensued, Colombian arts and crafts were purchased, dinner was eaten, and in general, good times were had by all. In the near future, we'll be making an appointment with the U.S. embassy for Andrea to acquire her spousal visa and whatever other documents she needs in order to work in the U.S. At this point, Andrea and I plan to stay one more year here and then move to the United States for an indefinite amount of time. She would find work as a Body Systems instructor and I would continue my career as an educator. We'll be sending out the S.O.S. to friends and family at about this time next year for any possible assistance in job placement.

On a personal note, if you told me 10 years ago that this was how I was to be married for the first time I would have told you to have another drink. I guess that's how life is. But in all honesty, I'm super happy and looking forward to the next year here in Bogota with my new job and the next few dozen or so years with Andrea.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

You Tube

After seeing Dave Kha's video he made for his mom for mother's day, I decided to upload my own video I made a few months back. It was my first attempt at making a video with the IMovie program I've got on my computer and I think it's a good first attempt. Enjoy.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Strike two

Today is the second day of the private bus industry strike. The streets of Bogota are normally filled with private buses which carry millions of people to and fro. These buses are not to be confused with Transmilenio, which is the government-owned bus system (the BART or NY or London subway system equivalent) that is also a highly effective way to get around. According to Andrea this strike happens every year, but normally lasts only one day. Apparently, the private companies and their drivers are striking because they want to be able to follow the same routes as Transmilenio.

So I got a call from my 'boss' saying that the strike has been extended another day as they negotiate. So they canceled school today. I don't really see how one has to do with the other since the school has its own buses but whatever. My 'boss' also asked me for the telephone numbers of several other members of the English department to inform them of the cancelation because she didn't have them.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Papa Adam Smooth

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May 19th, 3pm

Hi all. Just a quick message saying that Andrea's an my wedding date had to be postponed a few weeks and will commence on the above date, rather than this Friday, April 28th. So no need to FedEx any gifts just yet.

Also, I should find out within the next couple weeks whether or not I have a teaching job. There's a school here that I interviewed for and a school in Monterey, CA that has been pending since the beginning of February. More news when it comes.

Monday, April 17, 2006

April 28th, 3pm

Andrea and I will be married in a Notary Public on this day and time. We're pretty fired up. I still have to confirm but, from my understanding, when she and I relocate to the states we'll get married again because the Colombian marriage doesn't apply there.

This past Easter weekend, she and I went to Santa Marta and Parque Tayrona for a short vacation. I've been to Parque Tayrona, Christmas vacations 2 years ago. Not much has changed, it's still beautiful, heavily populated during vacation days, and hot as balls.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


Next week I have a job interview with another school here in Bogota. The school is a British-run and British-operated school with a British curriculum. If a job is offered to me, I would be inclined to think that it would be a relief from the invertebrates I've been working with and for for the past few years. God forbid if I should make a mistake or if I make an error in judgment or make some cultural faux pas, I would actually hear about it from a supervisor shortly afterward but no. I have to hear it from a coworker weeks later after the incident has gone through the entire staff. To give you a good example, in my current school of employment, it has come to the point where my immediate supervisor is afraid (literally afraid) of talking to me. If she has something to say to me directly, it is usually in the form of short bursts of well-rehearsed sentences without making eye-contact. What kind of a boss is that?

Speaking of invertebrates, I had a very bizarre conversation with a coworker a couple of weeks ago. Now keep in mind, this coworker woman and I haven't said 10 words to each other since August aside from the occasional 'good morning', mostly because she and I are in different departments and have different schedules. It was the end of the workday on a Thursday and the conversation was very brief but disturbing and went something like this (in Spanish, of course):
her: "So I heard you juggle, or you are a juggler."
me (after a few confusing moments to see if she was actually speaking to me). "Yes, that's right."
her: "So is that the reason why you feel so superior to everyone?"
me (after a few more confusing moments processing what she had just said): "Um, what?"
her: "Yeah, is that the reason why you feel so superior to everyone?" (she repeated it in case I didn't understand because of the language when in fact I didn't understand how she could make the leap from such a benign question to such a malignant one).
another female coworker from behind me: "Yeah, and so hateful, too."

Rather than defend myself or get into some heated discussion, I simply shook my head in disbelief, chuckled a bit, turned to my friend Charlie as I was slinging my backpack over my shoulder and said, "Well, it's good to know that everyone feels so positive on having me around. It makes me feel so good about myself." I wished him a good evening and promptly left.

My point is that there will be gossip no matter where I work, I've learned that from experience. But when gossip prevents someone of authority from doing their job is where I have a problem. Of course all the women get along with each other and along with most of the men, too. Charlie is like Switzerland, he pleases everyone and has everyone's trust but, in truth, simply has a high tolerance for bullshit. I don't. This phenomenon of gossip was common in the last school I worked at, too, but it wasn't as bad. I have my own theories about why it's worse at this current school compared to the last one but whatever. It doesn't matter. I didn't know what to do about it then and I still don't other than to ignore it and focus on doing a good job. One can only hope that the British school doesn't function like this.