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Showing posts from August, 2012

Patience Will Drive You Nuts

Cartagena has taught me that patience is cultural. What drives me crazy as an American doesn’t seem to make Cartageneros blink. What makes them restless is completely normal to me.  As I patiently wait in line, the locals are pushing and yelling unless there is an armed guard. If there is a red light or a very short traffic jam, drivers and passengers are beeping their horns and insulting anyone within earshot. At a corner store, if I don’t speak up and push a grandmother out the way to pay, she will do it to me. When it comes to food, traffic and money, it’s survival of the fittest. Waiting is for the weak. 

As lines make Cartageneros crazy, waiting in any and every other way drives me up the wall, across the ceiling, and back down the other wall. However, I never show it. I would never have any Colombian friends if I did. One day, I waited for 2.5 hours in front of supermarket waiting for each member of the group to show up. No one seemed to mind. Waiting for friends and family is no…

No English. No Service. No Customers.

As I was walking in the historic center of Cartagena, I found a frantic woman asking me if I spoke English and if I could help her find her hotel. She was an American about 60 years old, completely baffled by the confusing colonial streets. She said she approached several police officers and vendors, but no one spoke English so she really started to panic. Eventually, we found her little hotel. Her family was waiting for her with very grateful looks on their worried faces. They wanted to give me money and take me out to dinner for my troubles. I refused, but it got me thinking of why this situation even occurred.

It was the fact that English has not been taught to the people. Cartagena's developers want the city to become an international destination. They are from the larger more metropolitan cities, Bogota and Medellin, and have smoothed talked international investors.  There are already beautiful boutique hotels and excellent restaurants. Shopping is improving. Currently, the I…