Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Hola From Bogota

Well today is day two of my trip to Bogota (I don't count the travel day, even though it lasted slightly over 13 hours). I can't tell you that I have seen much of the country or even the city for that matter since I got here, but that is not unusual with the almost all the overseas travel that I do. I can't even describe the airport, as I landed after dark. Since then almost every available minute has been tied up at the newspaper, with the occasional hour thrown in for a meal or sleep. 

My impressions of the place are mostly favorable. The people have been terrific both at the hotel (The Hotel Capital) and the newspaper (El Tiempo). They have been universally helpful, friendly, and accepting of my complete inability to speak Spanish. Some of their staff, being far more capable than I am, are bi-lingual, and have been able to make the process a bit easier. 

As a consequence of the language barrier, they will be supplying me with a translator tomorrow to perform the formal training classes. I have also been asked to speak more slowly, as I have asked them to do, in the hopes of finding a partial linguistic common ground. Traffic in Bogota is an interesting experience, and I am grateful for the cab ride (with a local to watch over me) to and from work. 

While Colombians drive on the same side of the road that we do with the steering wheel on the proper side as well, this is the end of the common automobile experience. The cabs are incredibly small (as are most of the vehicles), and if there is a pattern to the traffic in Bogota (other than if you aren't a local you don't get it) I have yet to discern one. The food is likewise a bit unusual, but I am sure that they would feel the same if presented with many of our menus. 

As for the exchange rate, I was handed $38,000 Columbian pesos for a $20.00 bill. The prices don't seem out of line, but seeing them in a peso rate can be disconcerting at first (unless you are unfazed by seeing a cheeseburger for $22,500)

There are a few things to get used to however, especially the security. There are police and soldiers visible almost everywhere, and there are dogs sniffing luggage even at the hotel. The security at the newspaper is tighter than I have seen since the strike in Detroit a few years ago. 

These are not special circumstances here however, and my passport is collected in order to obtain a security badge to go to work every day. I will not bore you with any of the details of the work that I am performing, as it is far from interesting, even to those in the industry. My intention is to complete it by the end of the week however,and be on my way back to fair Toledo on Saturday. Until then, adios.  

I apologize for the lack of pictures, but the weather has been too crummy to take any. In fact I have been surprisingly cool, with highs in the 60's and lows in the 40's. If it improves, which appears unlikely, I will try to get a few. 

2 comments:

Roland Hansen said...

Buenas Dias, Senor Higgins,
Como esta usted? No comprendo el Espanol y no hablo el Espanol.

Can you say amigo? Que Taco Bell?

Sounds as though Bogota isn't all that much different than the U S of A. Including the price of cheeseburger.

Su amingo,
Rolando

Tim Higgins said...

Roland,

You realize of course,that you exhausted my command of Spanish after the first 4 words...

It is embarrassing to be this old and barely have a command of English, let alone Spanish. Maybe you should be down here instead.