Tuesday, August 16, 2011

So long and thanks for all the fish*

Criminal Minds is on right now. 


It's on every night here, one of the only shows in English so we seem to watch it a lot. The wife of one of Peter's co-workers used to work homicide with the RCMP in Vancouver. I once asked her if she ever watches shows like the CSI and Criminal Minds type shows. She said that she COULDN'T STAND all the CSIs, but that Criminal Minds and Cold Case were both pretty accurate. 

I'm going to miss it, I think... along with a certain Dr. Reid.

* * * * * * * * * * * * 

Although I've written all year about our time here and the things we've done, I haven't spent much time describing some of what makes it such a special place. I've left out a lot of details.

Like the smells.

While I definitely won't miss the smell of the Septima with its thousands of unruly taxis and almost equal numbers of obnoxious smoke-belching buses, there are many smells here that will always make me think of Colombia... the scent of rain in the air (which happened probably 80% of our days here!), corn grilling on street corners and meat grilling on parillas, smoke from cedar and eucalyptus wood fires, and the sweet scent of jasmine flowers (now one of my all time favourite smells).

And the sounds.

The ringing bells of the church next to our apartment building, the buzz of the gate letting cars and people into our complex, the somewhat-out-of-place-yet-completely-normal sound of horses' hooves on the pavement below, the bells of the propane trucks, the vendors in the market, the "buenos dias'" and "buenos tardes'", the "permissos" and "gracias'", the buzz of the phone in the kitchen when the portero would call up, the sound of our doorbell early on Tuesdays and Fridays signalling the arrival of our maid...

Ah, Rosalba, our maid.

At first I was completely against the idea of having a maid. I didn't need help. I didn't like the idea of some stranger being in my house, doing my laundry, touching my stuff. Someone I couldn't even communicate with. Then I got pregnant and so sick I could barely drag myself out of bed before noon. A person gets used to not cleaning bathrooms or the kitchen, or changing beds, or vacuuming, or doing laundry pretty darn quick, letmetellyou. Having some help around here (even if it was only two days a week compared to most people's five) has been nothing short of phenomenal.

But Rosalba is definitely not the only person I'll miss. 

There are other people... great, lovely, amazing people.

The friends we've made here have been really wonderful. The Canadian Embassy is not huge, and there are definitely some, uh, "colourful" personalities within its walls, but in general it's a really nice group. Even though our post was only a year long, most everyone embraced us -and our growing family- with open arms. Many (both Embassy staff and others from the expat community) went above and beyond to make us feel welcome and at home and cared for and loved.

* * * * * * * * * * 

As I sit here, it's after 1am and I'm sure I'm going to be tired in the morning. That will, however, hopefully make the nap I have planned for the afternoon even more effective.

You see, we have this wee overnight flight with four kids that leaves Bogota just before midnight tomorrow night.

(Or more than likely after midnight since the flights from here are rarely on time.)


Even though we haven't left yet, I'm already feeling a bit nostalgic about this place. This country. This city. These people and the year we've spent among them. I honestly don't know if I'll ever be back here...

There is much I'll miss.

*10 points** to the first person to correctly identify the origin of my post title and tell me who said it.

**In this case, the 10 points will actually be a tagua (also known as "palm ivory") ring that I picked up at the market today. You'll have to agree to send me your full name and address, or we'll arrange to meet if you're local.

ETA: I published this post at 1:12am, and although Kelly commented at 3:01am (so says google reader), Sara aka @squirrellykoala responded to me via twitter (since she couldn't get the comments to work) at 2:21am. I am impressed that you both knew the answer AND THAT YOU WERE BOTH UP SO LATE. The correct answer is, OF COURSE, that "So long and thanks for all the fish" is a parting message from the dolphins before they leave earth prior to its destruction in the fourth book "in the increasingly inaccurately name Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy Trilogy" and is also and also the title of said book. Congrats Sara! We'll touch base when I'm back and unpacked.


  1. It's from the Hitchhiker's Guide To the Galaxy (the fourth book) and the dolphins said it when they were leaving Planet Earth. :) Love that series.

  2. You'd think that I could get here first once! Especially at this hour of the day. :) It seems to me that Kelly's got it. Indeed, thanks for all the fish.

    Thinking of you as you travel.


  3. darn! i would have loved that ring! ;)

    travel safe.

  4. Thinking of you guys as you travel! Loved reading the post, and sadly missed out on the ring. :)

  5. I think you are there now--wondering how the trip went! Love your descriptions of Bogota and I always love your way of writing! Keep it going girl! Hugs to all of you, A. Dianne


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