Thursday, February 20, 2014

Columbia Bogota: Day 5

After days of presentations, tours, lectures, etc. today was the day that we were finally able to knuckle down & get some work done towards our project implementation plan. Completing the project implementation plan is one of the main reasons why we're here in Colombia so getting down to work was very satisfying. Nevertheless, it was still a day somewhat like going to the dentist: you know you will feel better when it's done but it's still painful to undergo the process. It's the sort of day that reminds you why you are getting paid to do this, or at least having your expenses covered.

It is very hard to work on a complex process, completing a detailed document, in a team with a language barrier. Our little group of 7 included 4 Canadians (2 with good Spanish, 1 with so-so Spanish ability, & one neophyte - me), & 3 Colombians (whose English was about as bad as my Spanish). Unfortunately, this handicap means that the 2 linguistically-stronger members of our team get stuck with translating duties. So they are trying to listen to the rapid, sometimes-emotional discussion with one side of their brains, & trying to translate out of the other. It is equally difficult for those of us with monolinguistic ability: trying to mentally translate words & phrases while the conversation speeds past us. It becomes a treat to converse in just plain English.

Not much else to report. After we wrapped up our work on the implementation plan we had 45 minutes to kill before heading out for dinner so I went on a short walk, just straight down the street from the hotel. I walked one way (south?) for 15 minutes, & then 15 minutes back. It's amazing: Bogota is a big, busy city like just about any other big, busy city. I could have been in Vancouver or Toronto except for one storefront business identified as (something like) "Buscar a las Personas Desaparecidas" (search for disappeared persons). The half-century of violence is never far from the collective memory here.

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