Wednesday, July 04, 2012

4th of July from Colombia

We've packed out; the apartment is echoingly empty and we're living out of suitcases. The Tabbies' tower has been donated to animal shelter ADA where we still volunteer and all that's left is a week of work and two big Embassy 4th of July events - our first.

The first Independence Day celebration will be tomorrow (the 5th of July?) and I'll be in business dress working the event as the Ambassador hosts the Embassy's Colombian friends and contacts. I haven't done this before, but apparently we'll be briefed on the protocol of "pushing and pulling" en route to the event. No, it's not like a Japanese subway worker's duties, from what I understand, pushing and pulling means moving guests towards (and then later away) from the Ambassador to encourage a good mixture and discouraging one person from hogging all his time and conversation. Should be interesting; I'm practicing sentences in Spanish along the lines of, "..but have you seen the buffet?!"

Then this weekend will be the "community" 4th of July event which will be a more traditional family-style pic-nic gathering. The Community Liaison Office (CLO) who organizes these events first made it a pot-luck, with dishes divided by last names (we were side dishes). But later an announcement came out saying, "forget the potluck - just come!" I thought maybe that meant that they weren't getting enough RSVPs (I must admit, it was getting complicated thinking about what we could make and bring, and in what container, as we're living sans tupperware out of the Welcome Kit now) - but perhaps it's the opposite, and they sold so many tickets that they're now sporting the bill for the franks and beans? Who knows, but not having to make something palatable for hundreds and transport it in a zip loc bag is a relief.

But today is the actual 4th of July!
So I celebrated it in a true American fashion: I went to the dentist and got a haircut.
It was a far cry from parades, BBQs and fireworks, but it was a day off work where the Colombians were still open for business, so I had to take advantage of the time. Colombia's Independence Day is July 20th and the Embassy will be closed in their honor. In fact, Embassy Bogota enjoys 22 local and American holidays per year, which is (I've been told) the second-greatest number for any US Mission abroad. Someone said we are topped only by a Mission somewhere in Eastern Europe. In fact, we also had Monday off for a local holiday for Saint Peter and Saint Paul. There were no processions to the church or colorful displays of saints or candles in windows, just quiet streets as people headed for the countryside for the "puente" (long weekend).

I hope the festive feeling comes tomorrow, because today has been just another mostly-overcast 64 degree day with buses flying by the apartment, businessmen and women in suits having lunch in the park nearby and the construction site on the next block fully operational. Heck, I'm even wearing beige. Perhaps we'll find some fireworks simulcast tonight on TV?

Nine days left in Bogota.
It's bittersweet to leave, but I'm ready for the next adventure. I hope our 4th of July events act as a nice send-off, offering a feeling of closure for this Colombian chapter.

Coming next: Tim goes to the Amazon and saying goodbye to the Big Brick City.

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