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Random Observations II

Dsc01472I went to see "El Codigo Davinci" with my 2 project architects last night.  Let's just say that the Sincelejo Cinemas don't have Dolby sound yet.  In fact what they do have is folding chairs, 2 home stereo speakers on the floor, and a home movie projector with a dim bulb.  It reminded me of those old science movies we had to watch in the gymnasium in junior high.  Except I never drank Club Colombia cerveza out of the can in junior high.  Bonus: I learned how to say, "Nice mullet!" in Spanish...

Another helpful Spanish phrase when you're 6'2" 205 lbs with a short haircut:  "I swear I'm not in the CIA".  I made the mistake of going to the US embassy in Bogota to register myself and read the security reports on Colombia's different regions, a standard service in US embassies around the world.  Colombia has the shortest report I've ever seen:  "You shouldn't be here. Anywhere."  No kidding.  And while the embassy itself is a massive fortress, the area around it is pretty sketchy.  So in retrospect I can say that registering myself for my own protection was much more dangerous than hanging out in mountainous jungle towns overrun with guerrillas and drug cartels.

I am the *only* gringo in Sincelejo.  I was reminded of that fact when I went to the supermercado and asked for sunblock.  That was stupid.  When the cashier finally stopped laughing he told me that if I promise to buy all 100 bottles he'd order a case of it.

Colombians are more attached to their cell phones than SiliconValley geeks, and the system here is very different.  It's free to receive a call, but to make a call you pay by the minute based on the time of day and whether you're calling a number that's with the same carrier as yours (cheap) or to one of the other two carriers (expensive).  So of course the obvious solution is for everyone to have one phone for each carrier thereby ensuring you can call anyone/anywhere for about US$0.08 per minute.  The downside is that when you meet your group of friends for dinner and everyone puts their phones in the middle of the table it's like being at an electronics flea market.  There's no room for any food, and good luck finding the phone that starts ringing...

Some guy on the street with a large stick was kind enough to lighten my load by removing the watch from my wrist and the 20,000 pesos ($8) from my pocket.  I didn't get a good look at him while holding my head in pain, but I can't help but wonder if he was the same persistent watch salesman on the corner who earlier in the week I'd told that I didn't need a watch since I already had one.  That was stupid.

Mototaxis are the best way to get around Sincelejo, especially between my hotel in downtown and the worksite at barrio Alto Rosario on the outskirts of town.  They aren't really taxis perse, but rather anyone with a 2-wheel vehicle who gives rides in exchange for money.  Most are just people who are cutting through town offering a ride in order to generate some extra cash.  But there are rumors that some of the them are kidnappers who take their unwitting passengers out of town at high speeds to be thrown into a pit until ransom is raised.  So my solution is to choose the old lady with the 1977 Puch moped that barely has enough horsepower to get her 85 pound frame moving.  You should see the look on her face when I drop my 205 pounds on the back, put my arms around her waist, and yell "Vaminos!" .  Even funnier is the look on everyone else's faces as she peddles (and I push us along ala Fred Flinstone) screaming through town at speeds reaching nearly 5mph... 


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