Friday, March 5, 2010

We've been back in the U.S. for a month

A sunset from the ridge on San Jose Alta, Barichara, Santander, Colombia.
And there are a number of observations I can make about both the people and the living style that is continuing here vs. Colombia.
1) Everyone seems to be in a terrible rush here. No one appears to have any patience with anyone else and yet they complain that no one is patient with them! Colombians demonstrated they were willing to take time to listen to a couple of gringos/gringas struggle with the language so they, the natives, could provide a service. Here, if you take too much time trying to explain what it is that you are looking for, people are literally rude enough to begin drumming their fingers on the counter!
2) It has always been my policy, being in Public Relations at one point in my life, to return phone calls. I found this to be true in Colombia as well, even though there were times I couldn't interpret all of the message, the people I called did call me back. Here... well, it's no wonder things are in the mess they are. I have called some people several times and do not even get the courtesy of a return message - ever! Or we may call someone and it's not a good time to talk, which is understandable - and we're told, "We'll call you back in (fill in a time slot)." Only the call is never returned. Must be the rush that everyone is in...
3) Fear... a lot of conversations overheard in U.S. malls, shops, grocery stores, etc., seem to be about fear - "I'm afraid the world is....", "Aren't you afraid your retirement funds will disappear?", "Did you hear that Social Security is likely to be stopped?", and "What if we have an earthquake?" It is true my Latin American Spanish is not high-level functioning but I was able to eavesdrop a little bit on conversations in similar locales down there and the message I got there was significantly more hopeful: "Aren't you glad we got a little rain today?", "We are excited about our daughter's school report...", "It was nice that the doctor took time to explain that procedure to us...", and "It was good that the cost of dinner was less than we expected." Much of the phrasing seems to be aimed at a positive view of things instead of fearful.

I am not complaining. There are many things about life in the Northwest that are pleasurable, but the speed of life here isn't one of them. And there are some aspects of life in South America that are significantly more challenging than in the U.S. (like having good quality water all the time!) and harder to overcome. Still, I miss the kind of "shut-it-all-down-it's-dark-outside" way of life and waking up to the crowing of the rooster in the finca nearby. And the noise... or lack of it. I really miss the country quietness. Sigh.


  1. Such a good post Sandy that made me think about how rushed and in some cases - like you picking-up on others coversations - how concerned about the future we all seem. How important it is to get a level on our worries and try hard daily to focus on the good things that are happening in our lives.Perhaps not reading the papers or seeing the News so often helps with that, so much sadness and grief worldwide. We all seem to be very busy these days and life should it not, be so much easier now with computers and wonderful domestic tools to help us daily. Are we all trying to do too much do you think? We must remember to talk of cheerful topics in our daily lives and certainly smile more.

    I loved the quiet slow days of living in the Middle East when even a cup of tea became a ceremony to be savoured and chatted over and a walk to town was the adventure of the day.
    I must admit I try very hard to count all my blessings of which there are many and even when very down, try to conjure-up a precious moment or a special time.
    My sincere very good wishes to you. xxx

  2. Excellent! I especially liked number 3! If you don't mind, I will post that one on my blog (with a link here).

    As for number 1, this is true, too. Patience, like the kind one needs to live in South America, is unheard of here in the States. I remember getting back from living 6 months in Brazil and I got locked out of my house for 2 hours and a week later, my tire went flat on my car, again, another 2 hour wait. Both episodes didn't even bother me the slightest. It's amazing how a change of viewpoint can change everything else.


    - Adam