Friday, July 18, 2008

Grande y Pequeño

So, where were we?

Ah sí, the Dudes are asleep. Charlotte has stopped giggling and is playing with some miniature animals she bought during our last outing, whilst watching Disney Español.

CC and I decide to hit the shops downtown. The two of us drive to pick up her friend, the Good Witch, and we all go downtown for shopping! I began to feel a little uncomfortable walking down the sidewalk with these 2 ladies. They are maybe 5’2” on a good day, and I’m 6 feet tall. Every Colombian we see is only as tall as my shoulders. So, we are walking and EVERY SINGLE PERSON stops what they are doing and looks at me as I walk by. Then every once in a while I hear some one whisper “Grande” as I walk past. On the outside I appear confident and am just going about my business. On the inside I’m having a real mental battle. Part of me wants to run and hide, and the other part of me is thinking, “Screw them! This is who I am!”

I remember when I was a young girl, my family lived in Sicily. My dad, Padre-man, has always told me to never be ashamed of my height. When we would walk around the towns and markets of Sicily we were generally the tallest folks around. Padre-man told us to keep our heads up and faces forward, not to look down at the ground and avoid people. One of his favourite sayings is from Eleanor Roosevelt, “No one can make you feel inferior without your permission.”

All of these memories are rushing over me as I walk with CC and the Good Witch. The ‘screw them’ attitude won out. Everyone, and no, that is not an exaggeration, EVERYONE still stared as I walked by and I still heard grande at least twice a block. I laughed and told the girls that I was going to start saying pequeño to everyone who called me grande. (FYI: Pequeño means small) I didn’t actually say that to anyone, not out loud at least. Someone needs to set a good example.

We went to a little shop with all kinds of hand made pottery and Colombia knick knacks. I bought a couple Colombia bracelets for the kids and miniature chiga. A chiga is a bus, similar to the kind that the kids rode in VillaMaria. I’m going to make an ornament out of it for our Christmas tree. Yeah, I’m that good, and I think ahead. Most of the time. Then we hit a candy store, I bought some SuperCoco lollipops for Charlotte’s class next year. They are made here in Manizales. We also went to a grocery store for COFFEE! I bought lots of bags of different kinds, and I bought some chocolate bars used in their hot chocolate and I can’t leave out that all important ingredient, PANELA! I asked CC what exactly panela is, it is made from sugar cane. It is not refined like our white sugar, and it still has the sugar cane colour and taste. They are sold in all sorts of sizes and styles, from ‘instant’ granules to big thick cow pies. Yup, you know I bought those cow patties!

By the time we were finished with our spending it was nearly 5 o’clock and we were expected at the Lady in Red’s house for dinner. After dropping off our purchases and picking up the Dudes and Little Mermaid we drove to LIR’s house (that’s Lady in Red, amigos). All the ladies we met yesterday are college friends of CC. The LIR has a 9 year old son. He is SO CUTE! He attends a bilingual school here in Manizales and once he warmed up to us (which took all of 2 minutes. We maybe giants, but we’re gentle giants!) he began to speak in English. His English is excellent. NO ACCENT! The Little Dude loved playing with a big boy. They played with matchbox cars and transformers. The LIR is so thoughtful; somehow she procured some girl toys for Little Mermaid. At first Little Mermaid played with an anatomically correct niño (that’s baby boy, gringos). Then she switched, as she always does, into veterinarian mode and began focusing on the stuffed animals.

As an aside…
The other day I learned that CC’s father is a veterinarian and a lawyer. After he finished vet school in Colombia he attended a school in Oklahoma (I think it was Oklahoma State?) where he specialized in large animals, like cows, horses etc… Later, back in Colombia he returned to school and became a lawyer. He practiced both professions, simultaneously until he retired. Maybe he and the Little Mermaid can talk about life as a vet this evening!

Soon the LIR’s husband came home. He is a mild mannered bespectacled man, much like certain Dude I know. He’s also a doctor. Like a certain someone…

We sat down to dinner and had an incredible time. We ate a traditional Colombian Soup. It was a clear broth with a chunk of corn, some yucca and potatoes. There were bowls on the table, one with shredded chicken, one with Latino evaporated milk, and one with capers. You add as much of each item you’d like. Then mix it all together and enjoy! We also, had CC’s favourite Colombian food item – Arroz con Leche. It’s sort of like a coconut rice pudding. Muy Bien!

It was a great evening. The kids had a BLAST! CC really has some wonderful friends. We didn’t want to leave, but, everyone has work in the morning and kids to get to sleep.

Buenos Noches!