Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Bubbles and Balloons in Bogota

And so from Brazil to Bogota, Colombia, a surprisingly long 6-hour flight and arrived having saved two hours from the time change. Met by my former students and good friends Bea and Sandra and whisked off to a lovely Asian restaurant by a park. Bea’s husband and 5-year old daughter came as well, the same daughter that was in the belly when Bea took Level III with me. Something special about that.

The food was excellent and in the park, one man was blowing large bubbles and another selling balloons. My time in Sao Paolo was extremely urban, from the hotel to the school to the hospital to the shopping mall, no time or opportunity to soak in a city park. So it was a refreshing change to eat stir-fry looking out at bubbles and balloons.

Off to my next hotel, feeling a bit winded walking up 4 flights of stairs and then realized that Bogota is at 8,675 feet altitude! That’s high! Up early the next morning to start the next 5-day Jazz Course, this in a lovely private school with a bird sanctuary, friendly staff and beautiful plantings. The energy and spirit of the 40 Colombians quite similar (no surprise) to the 44 Brazilians and both groups were impressive in terms of the number of men—about 15 in each case, rare for Orff workshops. A fine day, but once again, my voice failed me. Tomorrow will try a microphone. Maddening to teach without full voice!!!!

Driving back with three of the students, we got pulled over by the police. I had remembered from my first time here 7 years ago that Bogota’s strategy to ease traffic is to only allow people to drive every other day. They have it figured out with a license number system. Of course, some get around it by buying two cars. But my driver forget this wasn’t his day and we got pulled over by the police. We tried the light banter “Please be kind! An innocent mistake!” approach (and it was- the driver simply had forgotten), but the policeman was not giving. The punishment was to take the car right then and there to some far away place where you had to pay lots of money to get it back. Looked like we were going to have to leave to take a taxi when the driver told us to wait and went back to talk some more the police. Apparently, the police suggested that he could just pay them some money directly, he did and off we drove. Corruption is alive and well! But in this case, mercifully so. He paid them each about $20 instead of the $200 and many hours it would have cost otherwise. But worried it could happen again, he left the car with a nearby friend and we all got a taxi. And we got a story out of it.

I am happy to report an increase in bicycles and also bicycle lanes. And the neighborhood I’m in has lots of trees and walkways through greenbelts. In the distance, some mountains. And nice to be in a place where I can actually mostly speak the language. Teaching in Spanish in Sao Paulo was just fine, but felt bad not to join in the dinnertime Portuguese conversation or talk with the people in the supermarket.

So back in the traveling music teacher mode, still not as wholly here as I would wish, but the cough is disappearing and I’m ever hopeful the antibiotics will fully kick in. We’ll see what tomorrow brings. And I hope it includes bubbles and balloons!

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