14 July 1997
So, between school, Baby Gym and playgroup, Elena’s mornings are more or less filled up (and to a lesser extent mine too, as chauffeur), and her afternoons are still half-filled with her siesta. She has been discovering the joys of painting, cutting and pasting, and also the joys of friendship, particularly with Alisha and Caitlin. Caitlin, in particular, recently-arrived, and with little apparent experience of playing with other children, positively worships Elena, despite being a good six month’s older.
Much of my own time has been spent sorting out various tedious matters, small and large, relating to the move, from insurance (believe it or not, there is apparently no way of taking out car insurance for just a month, or even paying a whole year and recouping the balance when we leave, so rather than pay B’s 1 million for just one month’s insurance, I decided not to bother with it at all and risk the consequences), to selling the car (plenty of people have expressed an interest, but, incredibly, no-one seems to know how one goes about it, or what documents are needed), and doing minor repairs to the apartment which I had been putting off for some time due to the hassle necessarily involved in even minor matters of that sort.
After 13 or 14 years, or whatever it was, Winston the cat finally gave up the ghost, and, obliging as ever, he managed to go with the minimum of fuss, and before we paid for his vaccinations and export documentation for Colombia. He actually died while we were stuck in a traffic jam just a few hundred metres from the veterinary clinic, (which was rather undignified, but at least convenient), apparently due to some kind of poisoning according to the vet, although I was not completely convinced by that explanation.
A relatively major earthquake occurred in Venezuela last week, the worst since 1967, registering 6.9 on the Richter scale. Some 76 people died, with hundreds more injured, much of the towns of Cariaco and Cumaná were flattened, and three days of national mourning were declared. Because the epicentre was so far from Caracas, I actually felt absolutely nothing of it, which was something of a disappointment, but Julie apparently felt her office (which lies on a major fault-line, and was built after the last major earthquake flattened its predecessor) sway alarmingly and nauseatingly. To add insult to injury, the rainy season has brought floods to many parts of Venezuela, with an estimated 30,000 currently homeless as a result. As they say, it never rains, but it pours…
To add to her fame, Elena recently made another TV appearance, on another local channel (also featuring Baby Gym, which seems to be doing a lot of self-promotion lately), although we managed to miss the final showing (although not for want of trying).
After another flying visit to Bogotá, we are beginning to get the impression that things will not work any faster or more efficiently there than in Venezuela. After four hours of chit-chat, we did at least manage to contract for some cars (we certainly made the salesman’s day – three cars in a morning!), but things were moving so slowly on the apartment, the office renovations, and the legal documents as to not be worth reporting. Colombians are, however, much better at pretending something is happening than Venezuelans, (who really could not care whether or not they fulfill their obligations, nor with what grace they do so), and because they are so pleasant about it all, it is easy to overlook the fact that they have achieved absolutely nothing in the last month or so.
|29 July 1997||Back to top|
As our time here dwindles away ineluctably, I am hard-pressed to say exactly where my own time goes (although in fact this has always been a problem in Venezuela, where the simplest of things, such as shopping for instance, can take hours). I am surrounded by lists and lists of lists (literally, not figuratively), and deep in the long process of sorting out three years worth of accumulated junk, and the search for useful articles which may be hiding beneath it all. I am in contact with either removal companies or landlords almost daily (eliciting information has never been easy here, not to mention actually getting anything concrete done). Although having said all that, we are still significantly more laid back about this move than any previous ones, despite the potential for disaster which dealing with two countries like Colombia and Venezuela might suggest, (and despite the fact that we may not even have entry visas by the time we come to move!). We also have no shortage of social occasions to attend, as acquaintances from whom we have hardly heard in months insist on seeing us before we go.
Elena is of course oblivious to it all (although she will boldly declare that she lives in Caracas in Venezuela, and is moving to Bogotá in Colombia, it is by no means certain that she really understands what that implies), and continues to enjoy "school", proudly presenting her drawings and exercises when she gets home. Julie has been seeing Elena less and less the closer we get to C-Day, due to pressure of work, and Elena’s reaction when she hears her mother come home is approaching panic, as she scrambles to show her everything she has played with throughout the day, brandishes all her school work, and gabbles manically about everything she has done and seen since last time they met.