This is my 4th report from Colombia. Again it is rather long. I am still waiting for somebody to visit me. I am glad to say that I will meet Charlotte, my now former girlfriend, on saturday June 10th when she is coming for vacation.
Here we go:
I am going to mention a lot about security and please try to
understand the difference between what I have experienced and
what apparently can happen. First all the things that has
happened to me so far: I lost the number plate at the back of
the car..... Also I scratched the car just a little against
a police jeep (that was parked..). Nobody noticed....
However there are lots of things that can happen. While driving... You
are supposed to drive with the doors locked. Why I wonder when
the windows are open...
A visitor from Stockholm, who is from Colombia but has been in Sweden for 25 years, came here for a weeks meeting and handing over a few projects. He could not get a taxi to the hotel one night so he took a bus back from a restaurant at about 10 or so in the evening. The bus stops at the other side of the building complex, and not at the hotel doors which are guarded. He went up the stairs, as I always do every day to go between the buildings, and was robbed by three men with a knife. Since he spoke Spanish and was local, more or less, they did not bother with trying to fool him as they sometimes do with foreigners.
This is the normal way the fool foreigners as they did an Ericsson guy who walked from the hotel to the office on monday morning (his first day in Colombia). Another 'stranger' walks up to you and asks if you know about the city or the way etc, very nice. After talking a while a 'police' in plain clothes shows up with badge and asks about identification. The first guy obeys and the swede also. Then their is a question if they can support themselves here. Do they have some financial backup? The first guyshows his money and the swede also. The 'policeman' accepts the 'gift' and the two robbers leave. He did not have a chance.
During a week in may, they had more or less the following incidents around the city. Wednesday one guy from Ericsson was robbed. Thursday morning the guerrilla had placed a few bombs in some shops around the office area. Saturday there was a small earthquake. I have never felt any earthquake yet. Sunday some other guerrilla attacked a police station and a few police were killed. They managed to catch three of the seven involved. That is not normal. Usually they are found dead or not found. There are never any wounded or caught. On Monday, just outside a very big shopping center, a gas line exploded and almost the whole building went down. It was an incredible blow and a few people were killed.
I had a discussion with my Spanish teacher regarding living
together when you are young. They do have a word for Sambo (un-
married couples) here. It is called Union libre. To live with
your boy/girlfriend before you are married is not common.
Therefore they go on dates. But to go out for a date is also
complicated. The only way to have some 'fun' is to rent a motel
for the night. The most common used excuses are: I have to study
with some friends for some days at the summer house or I am
going to a party and will not be back until 7 or 8 in the
morning. The last excuse is really no problem, because the
parents do not want their children to try to take a taxi in the
street in the middle of the night. Especially since everybody is
driving home really quick and often drunk.
On request I will tell a little about what I do here at
Ericsson. I work for the project department. There are two major
parts, Ericsson Telecom (the normal public lines) and the
Radio or Cellular as they call it here. There are about 250 people working for Telecom and about 80 for Radio (mobile). Totally in Colombia Ericsson employs over 450 people.
I have started with presenting the Swedish organizations we are
working with. We are now responsible for the projects here and
the old department in Sweden is not helping us anymore. That is
new here. They have to talk English (big problem) and they are
communicating directly with the delivery centers and the
factories. We have established agreements with Sweden but there
are lots of trouble getting access to our orders and to normal
project handling as we did in Sweden. Also nobody, here or in
Sweden, follows the agreement and it is lots of communication
problems and questions.
Karl-Johan Petterson, a Argentinean, Colombian, Swede. His parents, from Colombia and Sweden work for Ericsson as well.
He speaks Spanish and English and when we are alone we speak Swedish as well. It is really difficult to know what language to speak sometimes. We
could go on for a while him speaking Swedish and me nodding and
answering in Spanish.
Also there are lots of people coming from Sweden to do some part of installation or an offer to a client or for some time helping in different projects. Right now arrived a guy who will help my department with order routines and the computer systems. Since I am off on vacation we cannot work together. He came here with lots of manuals and instructions. The only problem is that we cannot access the system due to that we have no access to our orders for some reason, and everything is in English........
At the moment lots of my colleagues approach me with problems or questions. Sometimes I have to sit in front of the order system to run through the whole project because they have know access to their orders and no information from Sweden. Then I present where they are, and what products have been shipped. This is however not what I should do. I should show how to do it and improve the processes. But since the project has been dumped in their laps here, there has been some time before the action has started and lots of things are late. I am starting to work with processes and to make the general way of working easier by simplification. Normally it gets more complicated for everybody because they discover things that has not been done and is desperately late.
Fortunately I am off on vacation as of Friday 10 June. I will not be reached by memo or anything during 12-17 June and 23-29 June when Charlotte, my now former girlfriend, and I will be visiting the jungle (amazons) and the paradise (Caribbean coast) in that order. More in the next report, if there is any time over to write them.
I hear that the snow finally disappeared at the end of may. Sounds like a normal climate in Sweden. Here we have 20 degrees almost every day, but lots of rain. At night it gets much colder and at midnight there is about 12 degrees. I fear it will be much warmer in the jungle.... Last sunday we played golf on a public course. In spanish the game could be described as agricultura or an advanced way of farming. Also I got burned on my head during the few hours. We only played nine holes because of the poor result. Maybe next time.
About the spring in Colombia. Here it is always spring, more or less.