A moment of truth

A couple of days ago I got the opportunity to visit some of my possessions which have been boxed up since 2007. I took this box of CDs home with me for a joyous reunion with the music to which I listened before I went to Colombia. Now before you say, “But didn’t you have it all on your computer, too?”, I did, but when I changed from a PC to a Mac I found the music files were incompatible. (And I know there are ways of converting files but I could never get them to work.)

But I realized with a pang as I cut the tape that with which I had sealed the box as a naive, hopeful, novice missionary all those years ago, “This means it’s really over.”

I had scarcely thought of these possessions all the time I was away, absorbed as I was with everything that was going on there. I knew that when I was ready to settle in Scotland again, I would retrieve them (and perhaps ask myself why I had gone to the bother of storing them!). That moment has now arrived but in the case of the CDs, I am thrilled to see them again.

I found the soundtrack of the film that got me started thinking about returning to Latin America and to which I listened constantly for a couple of years.

I found this CD, a gift from my first Colombian friends when they visited me some time, by a musician who became a good friend and member of our mission.

And this one, which I bought on my first trip to Colombia on 2006 which has all the typical rhythms from the all over the country. Also much-listened to, but I am not ready to listen to it again yet!

So I am going to start listening to this one which seems like a good bridge between my two realities.

Share this post:Facebooktwitterredditlinkedin

It’s July!

And that means I’ve finished all my travels and talks for now.

I’ve had an amazing three months travelling the length and breadth of the country, even getting to fly over it a couple of times.

I got to see the Callanish Stones…

…and the Avebury ones.

I caught up with old friends…

…and made new ones.

And everything was green and lush and lovely.

Share this post:Facebooktwitterredditlinkedin

A Merry Dance

On observing the wind in the trees at Clarkston Station: 

The wind leads the leaves a merry dance.

Tethered, they must wait ’till autumn to fly.

Share this post:Facebooktwitterredditlinkedin

June Dates

Hamilton Baptist Church – Wednesday 6th June at 7.30pm.

Glasgow City Free Church – Sunday School, Sunday 10th June at 11am.

Helensburgh Prayer Group – Thursday 14th June at 2pm.

Kilmallie Free Church – Sunday 17th June at 5.30pm.

TCM Baptist Church, Lincoln – Ladies’ Conference, Saturday 23rd June

Nairn Free Church – Thursday 28th June at 7.30pm.

Share this post:Facebooktwitterredditlinkedin

May Dates

Latin Link Scottish Inspire! Conference Friday 4th – Saturday, 6th May, Atholl Centre, Pitlochry.

Greyfriars Free Church, Inverness, Ladies’ Meeting Tuesday 8th May.

Kyleakin Church of Scotland, Isle of Skye 11am, Sunday 14th May.

Elgol Church of Scotland, 3pm, Sunday 14th May.

Free Church Women for Mission, Glasgow City Free Church, 2pm, Saturday 19th May.

Ferintosh Free Chuch, after the evening service Sunday 20th May.

Free North Free Church Sunday 27th May.

Share this post:Facebooktwitterredditlinkedin

Changes

Now, when I go into a shop, I don’t have to hand my plastic bags containing previous purchases to the security guard to be stapled shut (in case I plan to shoplift).

Now I don’t need to risk assess a casual converstion with a stranger at a bus stop about my destination (Why might he want to know?).

Adrenaline doesn’t need to pump round my body when I meet a young man on the street with his hand in his pocket (maybe it should never have, but it did, and still does).

When I am out as dusk falls, I don’t have to start thinking, How am I going to get home?

On the other hand,  now no one’s face lights up with delighted surprise when they discover I’m from Scotland.

Share this post:Facebooktwitterredditlinkedin

The other direction

I have been back in Scotland a month today and I’m ready to make some observations about this reverse culture shock everybody promised me I’d feel. It’s not been too overwhelming yet but here is one thing that has struck me quite forcibly: the way we do greetings and farewells. So cold! So informal! So little physical contact!

I didn’t notice it immediately because of course, I hugged everyone I know, the first time I saw them again. But as time has gone on, I realize that is wearing off. And I’ve been observing other people. Only if it is a very formal situation, do people shake hands. And on leaving, they do NOTHING. Not a thing.

In Colombia, I would, at an absolutely minimum, greet every single person at any gathering I attended with a handshake, and most likely, kiss almost everyone on the right cheek (so lean left when you meet a Colombian). And I would do the same on leaving. In fact, if I said goodbye to someone and for some reason, we talked a little longer, I would say goodbye again, even if that was seconds later.

We are not cold, just not expressive, as I explained over and over again to my Colombian friends, but now I can see why they might think that!

Share this post:Facebooktwitterredditlinkedin

Banco de la República

Here is a funny “only in Colombia” moment that happened a few weeks ago.

Some time ago I inherited a bag-full of small Colombian coins, 10 and 20 pesos pieces, which are no longer in circulation, a couple of old 50 peso pieces (worth about 1p) and an old coin that I couldn’t identify.

In the interests of wrapping up neatly everything in Colombia, I set off on a quest to find out if I could get these old coins exchanged. First, I asked in the bank in which most of my friends have their accounts and they told me that coins could only be exchanged in the Banco de la República. I asked there and was told that I could come between 8am and 10.30am. When I returned at the appointed hour, the guard looked dubiously at my little bag of coins and told me to go upstairs.

There I joined a queue of people with huge sacks of coins to exchange for notes.

When it was my turn, the clerk counted out my little pile of 20 peso pieces without blinking an eye and noted what they came to. He exchanged my old 50 pesos. He identified the old coin as “centavos”, in such a shocked voice that I understood he couldn’t do anything with it.

And then, he counted out my 10 peso pieces and  discovered that there were only 9. He rummaged in a drawer, retrieved one 10-peso piece from his stash, added it to my pile, and added 100 pesos to my gains.

It all came to about a thousand pesos and my reward for all perseverance was a rarely seen, new, thousand-peso note.

Next time, the man said, please separate out the older and newer 20 peso pieces.

Alas, there will probably not be a next time, but thank you, anonymous clerk in the Banco de la República, for attending to my ludicrous request so graciously and allowing me to wrap up that piece of unfinished business.

Share this post:Facebooktwitterredditlinkedin