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I am sorry guys. It has been a while since my last report in September.
Let me start with the most important party of the year. My birthday party in October. The apartment is not so big but we squeezed in about 30 people, by removing all furniture except some chairs, the bar-table and the music. It is incredible how the drinks, some food, but above all, the music can get people going here.
We danced to all sorts of tropical music. I now have a 20 CD collection of the best! Maybe I am exaggerating a bit, but the music is excellent. Halfway through the party the portero below (the guard that opens the door and the garage) called the one answering told me that I had something to collect downstairs. A present I thought and took off! Right, I got a small bag and tried to return, but the elevator was busy. I was opening the bag discovering some of my old socks and some other stuff. I got rather suspicious! I took the other elevator, which only goes to odd floors, because by now I suspected that they were blocking the other elevator on my floor (eight). I had to take the stairs the last floor and I arrived and I could see that it was all dark in the apartment. They had the most marvelous birthday cake that Cristina had prepared, decorated with Swedish flag and lots of candles, and they were singing for me! Gulp! I think I was had!!!

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Well, the party continued and It was great. It is rather normal, depending the type of party, to go out with the whole party to some disco. However, we stayed, in spite of the neighbors. My closest neighbor is Carlos Flores (Ericsson also....) who also was invited, to avoid the problem! I guess that is a kind of acknowledgment to the success. I was very happy.

Some of the last people to leave was another neighbor, Peter and Marcela. They are getting married in January. So his family is coming for new year and the wedding. My parents are also coming. Everybody here says how nice, and what a joy to have the family for Christmas. I am having trouble finding beds in the apartment and thinking of how to prepare the Christmas food, julbord, with NO experience whatsoever and without proper material, like sill and the julskinka, graddfil etc. Well I guess I am pleased also, that they are coming.

Doing lunch. every day at 12 we leave for lunch. Normally it is a restaurant close by, but sometimes we walk a little further. The lunch hour is short. Not like in other cities in Colombia. You have to remember that on this altitude, 2 600 m, the climate is cold (in a tropical sense) with about 17-20 degrees a normal day. But in most other cities, and on the Caribbean coast it is too hot. They have two hour lunch or more, but start work very early instead.

On the first Sunday in December there was a Scandinavian bazaar. Very exotic around here. We went to have a look at Christmas things to put in the house, drink glogg and peppaarkakor and also they had a "danish" buffet. We participated in lottery and I bought a few things for decorating the house. They told me that the price for the red chandlers was the same as in Ahlens. Only a airplane ticket away if you want to compare.... All Nordic embassies and some Colombian and European companies were sponsoring. I did not win anything on the lottery.

The Swedish Embassy, together with Luft Hansa, Hotel Bogota Plaza and the famous Swedish chef, (I don not remember his name), have arranged a Swedish food month at the hotel. I went there to have a taste of lax mousse, caviar and reindeer. Unfortunately the deer was out and the caviar too. I was not happy. I had a poor veal instead. It was fun to see the restaurant with Swedish poster and Absolut Vodka (and Lufthansa too. I guess it is okay now that they will co-operate with SAS), and things, all nice and cozy-like. Made you feel like you were home at the restaurant The Ulriksdal Castle or something similar.

October and November have been busy months. At least in regards to consorts I have been to. First came Bon Jovi, at the football stadium, Campin. It was loaded with people. You have to go there "clean" . That means no belt on the jeans, nothing stealable on you. It was the concert last year with Guns and Roses that was appareantly bad for some people and cars outside.
Bon Jovi were great. I am lucky to be considered tall in these crouds. We were standing in front of the stage with the sound and PA thing just behind us. when the people came in from the sides there just was no room for moving. After a while we had to escape to the sides. The consert was excellent, but it was not really my music. They do have a song, a ballad, that they have translated to spanish. It is excellent though.

Not long after we heard that Elton John was coming. Peter F told me that we had to go. this is better than the other one. Well, Bon Jovi was about 60 000 pesos, 60 USD or about 400 SEK. I do not understand how they can afford those prices here. I guess some people just can not go to concerts here. Elton was 120 000 pesos for front seats, and 75 000 for further back, but on the grass also. I was planning to invite my new friend Cristina, but I was not sure because it was rather a lot of money. Then Marcela, Peters girlfriend, told me that she could get the tickets for student prices, with 70% discount. I promptly ordered two tickets, with out telling Cristina. We where sitting at Peter`s on the Saturday, listening to Elton John`s Born in England, ready to go and still she did not know where we were heading. So we said -Let`s go! She asked -Go where..? It was excellent! We had a excellent time and he really has a bunch of songs to choose from. It is only too bad that he is so short! Luckily they had those big screens for the pictures on the sides.

That was not is it. Carlos Vives just came out with his new album. He is one of the most famous Colombian musicians, known all the way to Spain and things. The music is a sure hit at discos and parties. If somebody wants to fill the dance floor, they put on Vives and it is really amazing to see how everybody gets up and dances. The dance type is Vallenato, but with a little pop added. I must also mention the latest CD from Gloria Estefan. The same type of music. It is called opening doors (abriendo puertas).
Well we went late November to the Campin for a third time to hear and FEEL Carlos Vives. It was really a party and everybody was dancing on the stage in front of him. The people on the side were doing the wave and screaming their heads off. I was fun having been there and experience a concert from one of the most popular artist with a music, so intense and typical Colombian in a country that has incredible roots regarding music.
I must try to explain something. I do not remember if I mentioned this but in Sweden, like all western countries, they have music for old people and music for us youngsters. I will not mentioned this rap crap and house etc., that the destroyed next generation is depraved with. Since the different generations dance different music, they never meet on the dance floor. All in all the family do not go together and your friends are only with other of the same age. Here it is not so. Of course at the discos there are no oldies etc, but at family parties, parties in the homes and also parties like Ericsson Lucia party, everybody is dancing to the same music. In my view, most popular is Salsa and Merengue, but normally they also have Vallenato, Cumbia followed by a list of dances. More or less all alike to my ears but slowly I am identifying some slight differnces. And EVERYBODY dances! It is amazing. That is one way to keep the relations in the family and between different generations. I am of course eggagerating a little to make the point.

Christmas is coming. Unforutantely this will be a very different x-mas for the bogotainians. Normally during all of december they have fireworks, very nice illuminated decorations and lots of parties. The 24th of december is said to be very impressive. The parties and the quantity of people buying christmas presents, together with the extra month salary that they normally receive there are much commerce this month. With all that money in the streets the robberies are also increasing.

All that has now changed! The reason is called Mockus.
The maire of Bogota Antanas Mockus!
First he imposed Ley Seca, Dry Law. That means that there will be no alcohol sold after 1 am and all discos and restaurantes must be closed. Only this is terrible, because normally parties could go on almost all night. I have no idea what the young couples of Bogota could do after one o clock..... The number of accidents due to drunk driving plunged and almost halfed immediately. When we go out we are not ready and last time we went to an apartment to continue the party until it was really over. There are no dry law at home.
Bogota has had problems with electricity, especially during december. Therefore he informed that all the street lights public decorations would put up on the 16th, to save energy. Well, Mockus does not govern Medellin, where they have special zones and put up an illuminated scenrey that is spectacular. Unfroutantely, I will probably not see it. The weather has been awful here. It has been raining everyday, but not the whole day, only during a few hours but the quantity is devastating to the streets of Bogota. I call them rivers, but that is an under estimate. What more did this Mockes do. Well he threatened and said if there was any accident with a child invovlving fireworks he would ban it directly. Well, of course a child lost two finger last weekend and now there is now selling of fire works whatsoever. It is amazing. I belive that this would not work in Stockholm but I have not seenanything since. There was a poor woman in the TV telling that she spend all year producing the fireworks only to be able to sell them this month. Now she had nothing to do!

That is not all. Now he has ban the driving of motor bikes between 2 and 6 am in the morning. Also to avoid those terrible accidents. Remeber that very few cars respect the red light after 11 pm. The comment I heard about all htis is that A Mockus does NOT appear to be Colombian. And to judge from his look, like some austrian with a jewish or armish beard and parents from some where around Lettland or some former part of west soviet union. He is really popular, but now he is getting on my nerves. Closing down the discos and no fireworks. That is too much.

Lucia party at Ericsson de Colombia is of course different. The party was held at the Club of Engineers. A big room with lots of people sitting on rows of chairs. On the podium the president and the vice presidents of the company. First we were enlightened by a speech from the President Bjorn Magnusson. After that they were giving medals to employees with 20, 25 and even 30 years of employment in the force. After that the next item was -Olle and Johan presenting some typical Swedish Lucia songs. Ha! How wrong they were. We immediately called down all Swedes, including the president, the wives and some local talents and handed out the notes and the lyrics I received on fax from my parents the same morning. The first song was Santa Lucia. It started with introduction on a saw. Yes, it is correct, they played a saw-blade. Then we sang two verses. We did about five songs. I was lead singer on Staffan Stalledrang, but made a little mistake and we started again.
It was of course a complete success. After we thanked everybody and sent the choir back, we stayed. Olle introduced and we sang a Bellman song, Karaste broder, with a little arrangement we made in the toilet just before. That was a complete success. The following glogg, lussebulle and pepparkakor was even better.

At the moment, Friday 15th, the day is ending and I am off to the apartment. I am now doing my preparations for my parents that are coming on the 24th. I hope they are able to bring all the stuff I have ordered from Sweden. Well see.

If I do not send anything else before I wish everybody

Feliz Navidad 1995 y Prospero Ano Nuevo 1996

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Last updated: 26 JUL 1997 by Johan Stjernberg.
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