Luke's South American Diary
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February 1998

9 February 1998

Things settled down into their more normal course after my sister’s whirlwind visit, the main topic of conversation revolving around Elena’s new-found prowess on the potty. She certainly took her time about it, but once she discovered she could earn sweets by peeing in a potty or toilet, it all happened very quickly. She now goes to the toilet every five minutes or so, and usually manages to squeeze something out. Poo, however, is a whole other story, and as she now does not wear nappies, Maritza’s hand-washing workload has suddenly doubled. Ah, well, I suppose all parents have to go through this…

She continues to be a bright spark, with occasional awkward spells (which I still find unbearable), and is certainly not backward in coming forward, as exemplified by her performance at the recent birthday party of a school friend (yes, she does have friends now), where she was the only child willing to come forward and sing at the microphone, or dance on the small stage, and we had to discourage her strongly from doing more. She now walks around the house singing at high volume into her microphone-shaped maracas. It is debatable whether a painfully shy child would have been preferable or not.

After such a long spell of drought, it there was recently a short-lived spell of torrential rain for most of the day, combined with miserable and overcast weather the rest of the time (El Niño was blamed for that weather too!). The change in weather started the same day as I invested in a hose pipe to water our burgeoning terrace garden - maybe I should have done so earlier. However, after a week or so, it was back to the usual tedious blue skies and sunshine (if only some of those people who had warned us about the atrocious weather in Bogotá could see us now!).

While Julie was away in Caracas last week, I investigated the world of Chatting on the Internet, and, although I never thought I would, I must confess to being quite taken with it. Despite the wierdos, freaks and bozos it necessarily attracts, it is mainly good, clean, harmless fun. I usually tend to be the oldest participant, the vast majority being 16-20 and American as far as I can tell. I find the women (or should I say girls) the most approachable (and they obviously do me), and English people generally the most interesting, and although the flirting, where there is any, is very shallow, there is still a strange feeling of illicitness involved. Certainly, I find the whole concept of people of all ages and backgrounds and from all over the world chatting anonymously a wonderful one.

I usually end up playing the father figure to someone, but I have also had some reasonable conversations in Spanish, a discussion of the Theory of Relativity, a long (serious) conversation about body piercing, and have come across some genuinely interesting people (like one in particular, a 20-year-old Satanist, whose rapacious wit and rapid-fire black humour left me quite literally speechless - it just seemed a shame to interrupt the flow, and no-one else could quite cope with her either).

17 February 1998 Back to top

Elena has been getting the hang of pooing in the potty in the last week or so, and thank goodness for that, with a two-week holiday in Florida coming up. I am sure there will still be accidents but maybe not quite as many as there might have been. My sister is apparently going to bring out a collapsible potty which uses disposable bags - whoever would have thought that such things existed.

I have been busy planning more holidays for the future - in April and May - and in between times doing a little investigative accounting work for Julie’s bank (unpaid of course, although not, I think, unappreciated). It brought home to me just how much I have forgotten of my one-time profession (or maybe how little I ever used to know). In some ways I found it quite satisfying that I actually found the problem, but I do not think I would respond very well to working in an office environment again.

I have also been continuing my physiotherapy for the back injury caused by that moment of weakness a couple of weeks ago in agreeing to get on a horse again after so many years. Never again! It looks like it is going to be a long process…

We were invited to another barbecue at the finca of a colleague of Julie’s, and this time we really saw the other side of finca ownership. The house was quite spectacular, set in beautiful countryside, and the barbecue (which was for about 20 guests, not the 3 or 4 we were expecting) was served by a chef in a white hat. We toured around the fruit trees, testing everything in sight (Elena in particular gorged herself), and even the barbecue potatoes were freshly picked that morning.

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