Vodka, Humor, and Curiosity Equal Resilient Traveling - Part One
The invitation to keynote a Human Resource Summit in Bogota, Columbia appears like a miracle from my mom who insisted—in the last few weeks of her life—“Be daring. Have an adventure.” We sit in Business Class on American from LAX, another miracle (milagro) because that fare was actually cheaper than the flexible economy fare! Within 15 minutes of takeoff, I pull out my pen to fill out the immigration form. Yikes, ink explodes from my pen in all directions, covering the form and my right hand with permanent black ink. Polished nails now look like I have changed oil, rotated tires, and dug in the dirt for years. No manner of soap & water or hand sanitizer dims the charcoal color. The flight attendant suggests vodka. “Why not?” We all laugh. Other people drink while I soak a rough wash cloth with Absolute and wrap it around my hand. You just have to laugh. I promise the flight attendant a cut of the profits if we create a new ink remover called Vanishing Vodka. In Bogota, my husband and I meet up with another speaker from the U.S., Joe Robinson and his wife Marcia. Outside, the driver spots my now-gray hand waving. As the smallest one, I am wedged next to the pile of luggage that with each bump or right turns begins to bury me. You have to laugh. América Empresarial proceeds to turn the Bogota Sheraton into a worker-intense, trade-show-heavy, production-impressive event. I meet with my interpreter, Sebastian, a thin, intense, and incredibly brilliant linguist who becomes my alter ego for almost two hours. I can’t help but wonder how the audience feels about a male voice coming out of my mouth, particularly when I mention my Bill and our 33 years of celebrating “montheraries”. You have to laugh. I love to ask questions. A smile and a question evoke much information as well as evoke patience when events don’t go as planned. I imagine how much worse the traffic would be if there were not a law that only cars with even-numbered license plates could drive on even-numbered days and visa versa. I discover that married couples wear their wedding bands on their right hand. I discover that despite cracked and uneven sidewalks, women adore enormous high heels. Trash barrels are small so the burros with sidesaddles can be loaded to cart away refuse. And the six-inch step up and down the oldest cathedral in Columbia (Candelaria area) is required to keep out the rain water torrent that creates a river of refuse on the street. Bogota is a city of contrast. Security in the form of military, police and private guards, are as common as stars on a clear night. Yet at the national airport, we stroll through security without disrobing, shedding shoes, showing liquids, or taking out computers. Go figure. And you just have to laugh.