Tuesday 29 June 2010

To Wonder Or To Wander

Yesterday morning I was concerned I’d developed agoraphobia.

You see, it’s very comfortable in this apartment.

Everything is soft and clean.

There is plenty of food and the bathroom is lovely.

Beyond the apartment there are roads you have to cross and people trying to sell you stuff.

There are young boys selling black plastic bags, adults sorting through rubbish, acrobats performing at traffic lights…

Every time I step outside I realize how easy I’ve got it, which makes me feel ashamed and confused, and brings me to the inevitable conclusion that humans are selfish bastards.

“Speak for yourself!” you may say.

I am.

After all I’m the one hiding in the apartment.

Ironically, seeing people struggling to make ends meet puts me right off shopping.

As if not spending money will help anyone!

Even if I did fancy a shopping spree the Shop Girls here are so sticky they put me off it.

They chase you around the shop like an episode of Tom n’ Jerry.

But perhaps my mind is playing tricks.

The less you see for real, the more you imagine.

Luckily, the Fiancé is not the sort to watch me develop a mental disease.

He takes me outside and walks me to a lovely park.

There are lofty palm trees and a huge eucalyptus.

I feel relieved as we sit side by side in the quiet.

When I travelled to South America with my friend three years ago, we never stopped more than a couple of days in a city.

We preferred the countryside, opting for excursions in the mountains rather than museums tours.

Cities take some getting used to and can be daunting.

Still, the mind can be scarier than the outside.

I’ll wander soon.

I just need time.

Monday 21 June 2010

Football and Nails

The World Cup is very distracting and I love it.
Here in Bogota everyone is watching.
Colombia may not have classified but there are plenty of other exciting Latin teams to support.
Thank God I’m staying in a home that’s embracing the tournament!
My very first day with the in-laws involved shouting at the telly as Spain played Switzerland.
Despite our enthusiastic support from the sofa sidelines, Spain lost.
I rang my dad feeling distraught.
“It’s part of their strategy,” Papa assured me.
My in-laws are brilliant and not just because they get emotional about football.
They are everything I could hope for: Caring, generous, open, relaxed, good-looking, funny, affectionate…
Did I mention affectionate?
My Mum sometimes calls me ‘Flower’ which is lovely. Over here, they take it a step further.
Mi vida, mi amor, mi lindo Corazon…(my life, my love, my beautiful heart…) My Fiancé’s family don’t speak without uttering some loving term. I reckon they couldn’t resist even in an argument. Even in a football match.
Pass me the ball, my life.
I’m fast getting used to being here.
It’s been special seeing my cousin too, who turned up in Bogota on the same day, as part of her world travels.
We went for a manicure and pedicure together. My first ever!
The women assigned to me fell quiet as she realized how much work lay ahead.
I winced as she scraped and chopped at my cuticles with a tool not too dissimilar from the wire cutters back in the shop.
All these years of moaning about horrible finger nails, well finally Shop Girl has nice nails.
Unfortunately wearing open shoes is a bit of a no-no in this city so I can’t show my toes off. Instead I have to make do with walking around the apartment bare foot so I can enjoy looking at them.
That’s enough now.
Spain is playing in 2 hours and I’m already nervous.
Yesterday my mother in-law bought a special Spanish supporter snack pack, of chorizo, jamón Serrano and Manchego cheese.
What more could I want?
Ah yes, a goal!
And if not?
Well there are plenty of Latin teams to cheer for!

Wednesday 9 June 2010

Shop Girl in Washington DC

Washington DC is clean.
It’s so clean I’m tempted to drop litter just to test whether a gnome pops out of somewhere to pick it up.
So far I’ve resisted because I’m concerned the gnome may issue a million dollar fine.
We’ve been staying with my sister-in law (to be), her husband and their 3 year old son.
I was so nervous about meeting them that I couldn’t eat my free packet of pretzels on the plane.
I remained nervous the day after our arrival as the immensity of our trip hit me.
Speaking Spanish felt as uncomfortable as the ulcer I’d developed on my tongue and I worried my new nephew would sense my fear and attack me with a plastic Star Wars laser beam.
Of course that initial anxiety is long goneand has been replaced with a good feeling.
I love being part of this new family. It’s so special hearing this smiley child say, ‘Hasta mañana tios’ (‘See you tomorrow uncle and auntie’) to me and the Fiance.
Of course, as an Auntie I feel it’s my duty to teach him proper English.
Eating out recently, I found it hilarious that the American waiter couldn’t understand me when I asked for a glass of water. A table of Colombians and I, born and raised in England speaking English, was the only one who couldn’t be understood
“Water,” I said, again, in my best Queen’s English.
“Wa- Wa- Waaat?” the waiter replied.
“Water,” I repeated.
Still nothing.
“Warra,” my little nephew says, later.
“No, WA-TER.”
“Warra,” he says, giggling.
I shall not give in. Nor, daresay, will he.
Slowly I will introduce ‘pavement’ ‘lift’ and ‘rubbish’ to his vocabulary.
Then I’ll do the same with Spanish from Spain, because with so much Colombian slang around me, I don’t know what’s going on.
A bit of Catalan might not go amiss either.
I’m only teasing really, hearing American accents everywhere makes me feel like I’m in a film.
They’re so friendly too.
In fact, I can’t get over how chirpy they are when they’re working.
Shop assistants and waiters all introducing themselves and wishing you the greatest day of your life, even when you are the hundredth person they’ve served that morning.
What are they all on? I wonder.
As Shop Girl such chirpiness was reserved for special occasions and not for each and every customer.
Then again, I never expected a massive tip.
Is it too late to hope for one now?
I mean, obviously I want you to have a super dooper day!