And other non-sequiturs.
27.01.2009 13 °C
--WARNING! Insensitivity and callousness abound. Please do not let this reflect your opinion of me as a cultural, educated, and periodically intelligent young women...its been brewing for a while and had to come out.--
So maybe its the Colombian version of Ace of Base's The Sign that triggered these thoughts/realizations, or possibly the signs reading "BoingLand" written in that same curly italics that Disney uses boasting your favorite Disney characters with no official connection to Disney, but some things are just, well, off.
Bogota, and the rest of Colombia, definitely has its charm. Pretty buildings, lush green coffee plants, blah blah blah, all has its appeal, but there is something particularly intriguing about street performers in this part of the world that really just doesn't seem to fit its desperate desire to be taken seriously by the rest of the world (and I mean street performers in a very literally way- they stand in the streets at red lights). While the homemade silver knight's suit of armor, made, I'm pretty sure, form the metallic stuff that covers your car windshield's sun shade and stuffed with the sorry excuse for batting they put in "pillows" here, warrants a chuckle, its not exactly the most vivid reminder of Colombia's push for modernity. However, I guess you can't fault them for resourcefulness. I guess one plus of all the street performers here (the 3 guys stacked one on top of each other on shoulders juggling fire, the guy who made a life-size doll out of ladies clothing and and 1/2 of an old Elvis costume- the rest of which he wears- which he ties to his ankle and dances making it look like she is dancing with him, the unicycler balancing a crystal ball on his head, and my personal favorite: the guys with the "oh-so-mysterious" water pitchers that somehow conjure up water out of nowhere. Really guys, really? Exactly how stupid are we?) is that you really get your money's worth out of that 60 cent bus ride you are on--even if you are adding a dollar for every time the breaks are slammed on, someone falls on top of you or you are thrown across the aisle as the driver artfully clips the curb in an Indy-500 style hairpin turn. I guess you can't not call them creative.
Still, in a country fairly obsessed with learning and absorbing anything and everything that will put them on par with their economic trading partners, there a few incongruities. I'm not about to fault anyone for wanting to elevate their status in life, in the world, whatever (apparently my capitalist roots have sunk in). And, I am in no position to be pointing fingers at those studying a second language (almost always English here), but there are some cultural practices to be observed when really wanting to incorporate another language-and therefore culture- into your life. If I were to teach a completely politically incorrect class (I imagine not too far off from the ones I am incredibly unqualified to teach that I am doing now) I would assign this list, first thing, of things Colombians may want to ditch at the door:
-Early 90's hair accessories, circa Nancy Kerrigan at the Olympics. Unless you are wearing a leotard of some sort, these are unacceptable. And even then arguable.
-The continuous shouting of the word "llamadas" (meaning 'calls' signaling to others that you have minutes to sell to those need to call others - the Colombian version of a pay phone) that comes out more like a bleating goat or sheep with a similarly nagging, and utterly annoying whine.
-Colectivos and busetas: I would not be surprised if for an episode or two of one of those crazy Japanese game shows (where people jump of giant rolling pins onto a floating foam 'lily pad' to try to make it to the hanging door on the other side of the baby poo colored lagoon. You know the ones I'm talking about.) they decided to substitute running across 8 separately suspended platforms for getting on and off a crazy Colombian colectivo. Let's just say they don't always come to complete stop.
-Pooper-Scoopers. Amazing inventions. Enough said.
-The smell of a deep-frier. They don't bottle that stuff for a reason, there is no good explanation for why entire street corners should reek of it.
This is my absolute favorite:
-Stopping quickly in the middle of the sidewalk/escalator/doorway/aisle/stairwell/pathway/street/etc. to which you have to (a) abruptly stop as well to redirect your no-longer direct walking path, (b) run into the back of them and attempt to apologize while containing obvious and intense ire toward their completely inconsiderate disruption to the flow of (often heavy) traffic, or (c), a combination of both (a) and (b) that just makes you look completely uncoordinated and like a babbling idiot. Lose, lose and lose.
Now, I realize this has not been my most 'culturally sensitive' account, and I would like to consider my un-classy jabs uncharacteristic, but its been a rough couple of weeks so pardon the acrimony (Dad- aren't you impressed with my diction??) and have a laugh. After all, whats the fun in laughing at things if you can't share it with others.
Luckily, I will soon have someone(s) to share all this with. Steph and Aaron are making their way down in just a couple of weeks, and Marty's sister Beth is coming on their heels. My judgementalism will hopefully be kept at bay for at least all of February while I get to play hooky and tour guide all in the same few weeks.