Saturday, November 8, 2008

An insider's view

So, here are some pictures of my bedroom. I have the master bedroom and the furniture was all provided by the school. It's not so bad really, the mattress is pretty hard to get used to because it's so hard, but other than that, the stuff they provided is pretty good. As you can see, I have a picture of Chicago's skyline over my bed, I love having it. Thank you Cesar for that!

Here are the windows that lead out to my private balcony. I'll have to take some pictures of my view for the next post. I keep missing the good time when the light is just right.

Here is my insanely huge closet, this is only half of it, the other half has all my hanging clothes and there is plenty of room for all of my shoes, which is just such a nice luxury that I've never had. Notice how everything is folded up so neatly? That is thanks to Patricia, our maid.

This is inside my bathroom, it's apparently a steam room, but unfortunately, it doesn't work. I'm not sure it would be used though if it did work since it's 80+ degrees here everyday.

Here's the rest of my bathroom. My bathroom is one long hallway that starts with the closet, then the steam room, and then this. And, we're on the top floor of our building. So, when I come home from somewhere and I really need to go tinkle, I have to run up four flights of stairs, then another flight within our apartment, then down a long hallway. Always an adventure.
I'll have to post pictures of the rest of my place next time too and of the neighborhood in which I live. I live in what's called Ingenio II and it's known for having very huge, elaborate houses owned by mafiosos. It's also known for decorating at Christmastime like the Griswald's in Christmas Vacation...I can't wait! I saw one already tonight, it's still early November right?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Post Election Day Thoughts

Just kidding, I fooled you didn't I? I'm not going to write about the election because somebody has already said what I'd like to except much more eloquently. I will relay one story which I find a bit amusing.

This summer my dear friend Amy came and stayed with me the week before I was moving here. So, in the midst of trying to finish up two grad school classes, pack, get rid of furniture, sell a car, buy last minute stuff, see friends and family one last time, and all the other craziness that goes along with moving so far away...I had my own personal secretary, one who is really good at finding information on the internet. One of the things on my ridiculously long list of Things To Do Before I Move was to find out how to sign up for an absentee ballot in Chicago. What my secretary found for me was that I could either go down to City Hall one more time (I'd been there approximately 9 times the previous week) or just figure it all out after I moved. I decided on the latter, since I really didn't want to wait in any long lines again downtown.

It occured to me about a month and a half ago that I needed to figure this all out so that I could vote this year. I've been preaching to kids for years how we as citizens of the U.S. should not take our right to vote for granted...blah, blah, something about women in other countries not being able to vote, etc. So, you're darn right I was going to figure it out. Instead of grading papers one day at school during my prep time, I devoted the entire break to looking online to see how to do this. I wouldn't have been really worried at all, I've voted absentee before, but that was in another place where sending and receiving mail wasn't a problem.

According to the information I found, I could print out an absentee ballot registration form or I could've turned the same thing in before I left. Well, luckily my friend Stetson was going back to the States for a wedding that weekend, so he mailed a bunch of ballot requests in for all of us who were too lazy to do it before we came here.

About two and a half weeks later, I received the absentee ballot in the mail. I was super excited because I'd heard how unreliable the mail is here and I really didn't want to be a liar after all these years of teaching kids how important it is to vote. I voted and then gave the envelope to my other secretary (don't I sound important?) who is really the lone secretary for the entire elementary school. I asked her if she knew how to mail it to the States and she said she'd talk to the big boss about it.

About a week later, the envelope was returned to me with an apology that they couldn't mail it. This was about a week and a half ago. I quickly asked around and found out that you could mail things to the States from a place near the grocery store I go to a lot. A few of us were in the same boat with our ballots, so we all went there after school and found out that to get them there in time for yesterday, it would cost $70,000 pesos, about $40! We decided to not pay for it, it was just too much money, but then I remembered a parent meeting I'd had a few days before that. The parents told me they were taking their sons to Florida for some medical tests, but the kid in my class told me they were going to Disney World for his birthday. I don't really care which of those stories are true, I just saw a way to get our mail to the States.

I promptly went home and emailed the parents in my awfully broken Spanish and never heard back from them. The student in my class was in school the following Monday and I asked him if his parents had understood my email. He just kind of laughed (I'm assuming because of my horrible Spanish email) and said that he could. I made him repeat to me what he was taking and why it was so important that he not forget. By the way, of course this is the least responsible kid in my class with the messiest desk, cubby, and bookbag. That's why I went with him to his bookbag, made a joke about where he was putting it so he'd remember, and then watched him walk to the bus to make sure...what? was I afraid he'd get abducted or something. Well, I am in Colombia, so maybe my fears weren't SO ridiculous. He made it on the bus and got back to school yesterday. I immediately asked him if he'd remembered to mail our ballots. He again just kind of looked at me and smiled and said yes he had.

I realized yesterday and wrote on my facebook page that I entrusted my absentee ballot to a seven year old on his way to Disney World, and that is a fact. As I was watching the election results come in last night on CNN I was pretty amazed by the technology with the maps and comparing from years past, and especially by the woman they hollogrammed into the studio, Princess Leah style, from Grant Park. I wonder how we can have the ability to do all of that, but why I couldn't just vote online. Ughh, politics.