Monday, January 28, 2013

it'll cure what ails you

I got a full-blown airplane-induced, jetlag-exacerbated, sinus-y, cold-y thing two weeks ago.  It started on about a Thursday, really manifested itself by that Saturday and by last Tuesday, I was just plain miserable.  I tried all sorts of remedies that we Americans take.  I popped Sudafed, Mucinex, Mucinex-D, plus I gargled with hot salty water over and over and over, all taken around regular doses of Advil and Tylenol.

Nothing worked.

I didn't sleep from about Friday night on until Wednesday. I was grumpy and shut the door to my office so nobody would talk to me me.  A coworker saw me on of my few trips out of the office that day and asked what was wrong.  I told her I was sick with a cold and she told me a home remedy to try.

Since all the 'modern medicine' had failed me, I was willing to try anything.

The recipe:  cut up some fresh ginger in a pot, squeeze some lime juice in, and boil.  Strain into a cup, add honey, stir and drink.  But only do this just before bed and at no other time during the day.  Oh, and if you're feeling up to it, add pepper before you drink it.

Well I came home and after getting Ruth's ready and eager consent to use this home remedy (as if there were any doubt that she'd approve of it), I sent her to the grocery store for ginger and limes.  She made sure to stress that "you can only take this right before you go to sleep."

Got it.

So I brewed my witch's brew having no idea of the exact proportions, drank it and went to bed.

Where I slept.

All night long.

And I woke up feeling better than I had in a week.


I took another dose of the brew on the second night as well.  Better to be safe than sorry, I say.

I have been well since then.

I am a believer.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Lincoln (the movie)

We went as a family to see Lincoln last night (it just opened in Bogota on Friday).  WOW, what a powerful movie.  If you've not seen it yet, I urge you to go NOW.  Do not pass Go, do not collect your $200.  Just go see this amazing story of living and breathing by the power of your conviction of right over wrong, even when there are easier ways out and you stand to lose a lot personally by choosing right over wrong.


random musings

1.  We had a great vacation in Hawaii and Los Angeles.  I've just downloaded photos and will update you soon on that trip.

2.  We got an email yesterday from Sallie Mae that said "congratulations, your student loans are paid in full."  You may be wondering what student loans Sallie Mae was talking about since neither of us has been in school for many, many moons.  Well, that was Jimmy's very expensive two years at Georgetown getting a Master's degree.  Which he graduated with in 1997.  Yes, we were on the minimum payment plan so it took a long time.

3.  We've spent the last two Saturdays going on hikes.  Last Saturday was to Chingaza National Park, and yesterday was ultimately to Parque Ecologico Matarredondo (stops along that way at a lookout point over the city and at the Virgin Guadalupe statue that looks over the city) .  We can't believe we've missed visiting these places for the last 2.5 years, but now that we know they exist, we plan to make hay while the sun shines until we leave in July and visit as many other cool spots as possible.

Chingaza was beautiful and very cold.  It's called a "paramo", which I think in Spanish translates to "like Scotland".  I've never been to Scotland but I think this is how Scotland must look.  Some photos:

I spy with my very own eye a little white-tailed deer.  Can you see him (or her?)

One of the 23 deer that Mac counted on the trip.

Parque Ecologico Matarredondo, although considered a paramo so there are many of the same types of vegetation as Chingaza, was much warmer than Chingaza.  We did a short hike there before heading to lunch in the nearby town of Choachi.

the inside of the old chapel at the Virgin of Guadelupe statue

the Virgin herself

the awful Saturday smog of Bogota that the poor Virgin must look at 

Mac on the trail at Matarredonda

our lunch spot - we are all eating from a big basket of grilled pork and beef, potatoes and yucca

the restaurant

our pork and beef were grilled in that big fireplace.  I wonder what their restaurant rating would be in the US?
a little landslide repair work

one of the many great views on our ride back to Bogota
4.  Our beloved Ruth's son is a computer expert.  And her son's girlfriend is a manicurist, who can also do facials, waxing, massages, etc.  So in typical Southern style, where you can get your taxes done in the same place as your small engine repairs, on Friday afternoon they both came over.  While I was getting a mani/pedi, my computer was getting some love.  For at least two years, my laptop has had no sound.  That means we couldn't watch dvds or youtube videos or listen to the sound on e-cards, etc.  And then sometime ago, even though I really keep no files of any size on the laptop because everything is backed up on external hard drives, all of a sudden my hard drive was full.  The computer worked so slowly that I never wanted to even turn it on.  So the computer whiz came in and within 5 minutes, said I had a worm that had just eaten its way through my hard drive.  When I asked how that could be since I pay for a perfectly good anti-virus program, he said that typically anti-virus programs update every week to cover all the viruses and worms that came out that week, but new viruses and worms are created every day so in the interim, my computer was infected.  So he cleared the decks on the hard drive and we started over from scratch.  It's like I have a new computer now.  It's fast AND as an unexpected bonus, the sound now works.  Apparently the worm liked the audio and ate that too!  Oh, and he fixed my overheating problem (where the laptop would overheat and just die, usually when you were in the middle of doing something very important).  He ran out and got me a laptop cooling pad that works like a charm.  Note to self:  at the next hint of a computer problem, call this guy instead of suffering silently.  The cost of all this computer work (including the cooling pad)?  about $50.

Happy Sunday!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

And finally we arrived

After an 11:15pm pickup on Friday night to head to the airport, we boarded our 1:30am flight to Miami.  There are several key issues with a 1:30am Bogota-Miami flight. First, it's only 3.5 hours in the air, so even if you fall asleep the second your bottom hits the seat, you don't get enough sleep before you have to wake up. Second, even if you fall asleep the second your bottom hits the seat, the airline - which will not so much as serve you a pack of peanuts on a domestic flight - will proceed to serve a full meal on the Bog-Mia flight, with all the lights on, thereby interrupting any chance you had at sleeping.

We did not sleep much.

Which meant we were all grumpy when we landed.

Which meant we were testy when Jimmy, using a diplomatic passport, got pulled into Secondary when we were clearing Immigration. This has never happened when I've traveled with him, but apparently it happens to him about every other entry into the US. There is another James Story out there who has a bad mark next to his name. It doesn't matter that my Jimmy is 6'4" and this James is 5'10". It doesn't matter that my Jimmy travels on a diplomatic passport and this James does not. We looked like criminals being shepherded into the "special room" where illegal immigrants and wayward criminals get taken.

Once we got out of there, cleared Customs and rechecked out luggage, we attempted to get a day rental at a hotel, all to no avail. Did I mention we were all tired and grumpy?

So we found a nice place to have breakfast and hunkered down. They had bowl game highlights on the tvs, and everybody was happy.

After we felt like we'd overstayed our welcome there, we found another area to rest. The boys took the resting literally:

Dd I mention we had an 8-hour layover in Miami???  Yes, you read that correctly. Eight hours. Sweet Lord, have mercy on us. Oh, and we tried to get moved to an earlier flight to Los Angeles, but that would have cost $75 per person and when we were fed some cockamamie story by the American rep about having to pay this fee because otherwise everybody would just go on earlier flights which would leave later flights empty (no, I'm not kidding), we decided we weren't paying American Airlines any additional money for their dumbness.

So after 8 hours of an airport breakfast, a little napping, a lot of "how much longer?", and lunch at an airport Wendy's, we finally boarded the plane to LA, where without the threat of being awakened for a full meal service, some of us slept and some of us stealthily took photos as mean, mean payback.

(In my defense, I did not sleep the entire way as I watched about 2/3 of season one of Downton Abbey, which I will admit I thought was Downtown Abbey until I started watching it on the plane.  I understand now why a nation is hooked.)

(Oh, and I should mention that the flight was oversold and they needed 2 people to give up their seats for $300 each.  Soooooo, in American Airlines' brilliance, they decided it was better to pay out $600 to two people than to let the three of us go on an earlier flight that had space available.  Sheer brilliance.)

We arrived in LA - after a 5 hour and 50 minute flight - to find that our 1.5 hour layover had increased by an hour.  This gave us time to have a quick dinner at Sammie's Wood-Fired Pizza and a little leftover for quick airport shopping (meaning we bought snacks and magazines).

We boarded the plane for Lihue and got overly excited when there were only about 20 people on the plane.  Could we be so lucky as to have a row per person so we could actually sleep?

No.  The answer to that rhetorical question is no.

Turns out they'd stopped boarding because the plane that was supposed to fly us over the Pacific Ocean had landed with one generator out and they needed to see if it was reparable.  Um yes.  We need to see if that's reparable please.

Turns out it was reparable so they finished loading people on until we were packed in there like sardines.  Our one-hour delay turned into a 1.5-hour delay, which meant we finally ended up landing in Lihue after a 6-hour flight about 11pm, where we met my mother who had been sitting in the open-air baggage claim waiting for us for hours.  

Actual time in the air from Bogota to Miami to Los Angeles to Lihue = nearly 15 hours
Layover time in Bogota, Miami and Los Angeles = 12 hours

Waking up to this after all those long hours = PRICELESS

Let the vacation games begin!