Wednesday

-----------> Arrival

We arrived safely to Bogota this morning, and made it just in time for the countries Alumbrado Navideno (illuminated Christmas).



In which many cities and towns compete to have the best light displays in public plazas or wherever they want them. Normally the city of Medellin wins. A city we were already planning to visit, but now we are going to try and get there before the lights end on January 7th.

We will be in the city´s historic distric La Candelaria tomorrow for a warm weathered new years!



This was the best decision ever.

Monday

Plane----->

Today:
Washington DC-------------> Bogota, Colombia



Weeeeeeee!!!

Sunday

13.5 inches of snow

So while house sitting in Lynchburg the sky decided to drop lots of snow on the ground. The entire town has pretty much shut down, though we hear you can still order delivery pizza.

So what do you do when your stuck at the house with lots snow on the ground?...

...Build a GIANT Snow Monster!

*inspired by Calvin & Hobbes.

If you look close you can see the scared faces of little snow people being eaten by our killer snow monster.

Monday

Farmville, the New Bethlahem

Every year in the little town of Farmville Virginia the community Church of Christ (whose pastor happens to be Jim Price, Jameson's father) puts on a very special reenactment of the christmas story. It's a drive-through live nativity with scenes representing various stages of the biblical account of Christ's birth. It's really quite a production requiring lots of work and faithful volunteer actors. Last year when Jameson and I drove through ourselves we thought about what a wild road side attraction this must be for people who are not familiar with the Bible, or how strange it would seem to a foreigner. Its a special time for the church.
Jameson's mom thought we would make the perfect Mary and Joseph this year with Jameson's beard, our dark features, and our angelic way of carrying ourselves. We spent four hours sitting in the hay with a baby doll and a donkey.
Needless to say, it was cold.
But at least now we have the perfect picture for our christmas card.

Snow in DC.



We didn't snap any pictures while it was coming down, but trust me, it was beautiful.

Here are some photos of the aftermath, at the grandparents house in Great Falls.

We took the metro deep into the city Saturday night, and I watched the snow fall in front of street lights.
There is something wonderfully tolerable about cold weather mixed with snow. It makes you feel like there is a point for wearing a coat.

Just when I thought I had bled all of my mid-west blood, I see snow, and I want to go sledding.


- Jameson

Wednesday

Food Log

I started keeping a Food Log about a week ago.
Goal: to monitor what I am eating and to keep track of my poops. That way I can see if they have any correlation. Which would mean that my digestive issue is based on diet and not some inflammatory bowel disease.

*It was here that I had posted a sample of my food and poo log, but Laney found it inappropriate to discuss on the blog, so I removed it.

My "movements" have been looking better, and now lack the scary details from the past.

Still, I probably need a colonoscopy. I am thinking that Colombia may be the best place to have this done.
___________

Beyond my issues we are both in DC, happy, healthy and helping Oma..

..I promise to stop blogging about my poops.

Monday

Check Up: A Medical Update

Test results for virus, bacteria and parasite came back negative.

Which means it is recommended that I have a Colonoscopy. Otherwise know as the arm and leg proseguir for those without healthcare.

I stopped by the Fan Free Clinic to see how long a financial screening takes, about a month. In a month I will be vacationing in Colombia, so my colin plans, as of now, are to seek care in Colombia, or take care of my body until I return to the US.
Either one sounds fine to me.

It should be noted that I am feeling better, and that my "movements" have changed to a more solid, less blood, state. They are now also occurring less regularly, perhaps too irregularly. I am also eating less, my appetite has suffered (but this could be from the mental stress). None the less, I am feeling more healthy.

Also I acquired some knowledge recently, from my friend Jet, explaining that some people who were on a heavy acne medication, at some point in their lives, had intestinal issues. Seeing as I was once on Accutane, a very powerful, plenty of side effects, drug for acne, this self diagnosis has not been ruled out.

However we will never know for sure, without a Colonoscopy.

So if anyone knows a doctor, who needs some home repairs, or a new deck, or a live in nanny, maid or cook in exchange for a colonoscopy. Let me know.

- Jameson

Sunday

Birth stone: Topaz

Recap: by Jameson

Last weekend was my birthday, I am now 26, which means I am no longer invincible. sigh.

My mother made me this cake for me.



It is the continent of South America, my mom is great.


Right now we are in Richmond, living in a shed and working some temp jobs, nothing steady.
You would be amazed though at our ability to transform a shed into a cozy space.

So the other day I went to the doctor, which is a big deal for me, seeing as I lack insurance. Without going into details I have had some digestive, slight bleeding from the ass, problems. This has been going on for about a month now, needless to say I have been putting it off because of cost.
Finally, out of fear, I went to the ER, where they told me there was a 10 hour wait. No joke.
Sort of made me laugh at all the argument against "socialized health care" because of long lines, don't think it could get much worse for people.

So the next morning I went to Patient First. I got 4 lab tests done and explained to my doctor my situation, not having health care, being scared. He was great and dropped the doctor fee. So the bill ended up being around $300, which, for me, is still LOTS of money, but it could have been double that.
Basically the doctor said we should hope for a bacteria infection or a parasite, which seemed to be an odd thing to hope for, but here is the break down.
If it is a parasite or infection, then he writes a prescription and it dies, hopefully water boarded first then a painful death, for it, not me.

If it is not a parasite or infection, then it is an intestinal issue, in which case I would need a colonoscopy.
Average Colonoscopy cost: A 5 pound diamond and a pirate chest full of gold.

Two test results have already come back negative, remember we want positive. I will get the results of the other two in a few days.

Keeping my fingers crossed for parasite, because if they all come back negative I don't have the ability to pay for a Colonoscopy.
This uncertainty, the way this healthcare system works, terrifies me. I was crying when I left the doctor thinking about how something like this could completely wipe out my bank account. I know it is just money, but it is a security issue. It makes me feel unsafe, not knowing how this could affect my life.

Options:

- Luckily for me I have a support system, my family, Laneys side and mine, who love me and want me well.

- I can apply for financial aid at mercy hospitals, though it's ridiculous to me that hospitals distinguish between mercy and non mercy, at least our country has this option.

- I can seek healthcare when I go to Colombia, they actually have universal healthcare. I know this is a scary word in the US right now, but after seeing this system work in Chile, I'm not to worried.

Example: While living in Chile we stayed with a guy from Chicago (not a citizen), who became very sick. He went to the public hospital, waited for two hours and didn't have to pay for ANYTHING except medication, which was less than $20. He got better in a couple of days.

So there are my options.
If I get worse, keep an eye out for a "donate money to Jameson's colin" post.
It's going to be a blast!

Saturday

Fall in the Blue Ridge






Jameson, my mom and I went up to Great Uncle and Aunt's home in the mountains to enjoy the end of the leaves turning. The next day my Grandma called to make sure that Jameson and I hadn't gone roaming around in the woods. It's hunting season and she heard that there have been mountain lion sightings in the last couple of days. We wandered a bit, but were not eaten.

My Great Aunt's Owl Collection



The House was full of Owl's and White Horses
Here are some of the owls, owl towels, owl candles, wooden owls, glass owls, ceramic owls, painted owls, sticked owls...you get the idea.

Tuesday

Halloween

























Here we are on a porch during Halloween with our friend Lindsey.

Laney is: A giant Day of the Dead Skull head with accordion

Lindsey is: Jennifer Lopez in Anaconda

Jameson is: A green hill with a shrine and spot light on top (I zoomed into the shrine so you could see it)

We were in Richmond for this holiday, and honestly there isn't any other place in the world I would rather be on this day.

Reasons:
- All The Saints Theater company, a radical puppet group aligned with Bread and Puppet, puts on a HUGE parade, open for anyone to march, completely absent of city government help and consent. Proof of power in numbers.

- Gallery 5 puts together a Carnival of 5 Fires, which includes seances, fire dancers and burlesque.

- A neighborhood in the city designates an entire street to children to come Trick or Treat, its called "Hell Block". Parents decorate their houses like pirate ships or human butcher shops.

- A haunted party ship floats along the downtown canals

- There are parties EVERYWHERE!

And this is just the stuff that occurs on Halloween DAY. It does not include the month long festivities that build up to this night like maize mazes, pumpkin patches, hard cider brewing, fire pits, haunted houses, confederate ghost tours and candy.

Though it rained and our vision was limited, peripherally. It was an awesome night!

Thursday

Moving to the country

This is Flacco and Gracie May. For the next week we are responsible for them. Which entails feeding, watering, walking and grinning at how silly they are.

We are staying in a cottage about an hour outside of richmond, complete with wood burning heat and surrounded by dilapidated barns. There is also a cat here, which didn't have a name upon arrival. So of course, I had to name her.
Name: Mmm...Cookies.
That is " mmm..." as a rising "mmm" from a low to high. Not a steady Homer Simpson "mmm". Then followed by an excited "Cookies!". Trust me it fits.

While here we plan to do the following:
- Water fast for three days
- Fine tune the album we wrote overseas
- Make our, both, Spanish themed Halloween costumes
- Encourage friends to visit
- Sleep
- Play with the donkeys

That's all for now, you internet using, city slickers.

- Jameson

Friday

Exotic food from the US



Jameson has been telling me for ages all about the traditional food from his youth in the mid-west. Last night he made a proper Indiana meal: Chili with noodles, cheese, sour cream with Frito's on top. The chili he made Cincinnati style, kinda sweet with lots of cinnamon. He even added a can of Coke to the recipe to give it a kick.
We also had oven baked corn on the cob.

I washed it all down with a purple cow (1/2 milk, 1/2 grape juice, and a little sugar to taste)

Thursday

DC Captial Chaos


I know the title of this blog sounds like a radio commercial for a Washington hockey match, but it's more affectionately said to describe our swift welcome back to my side of the world. My whole family lives in Northern Virginia, right on the other side of the river from DC. My mom greeted us with signs, happieness, and a big party with her side of the family and tofu kabobs.

Part of my culture shock experience of coming home was re-realizing that Washington is a very very busy city. Everyone is running here and there
(one woman getting off the metro said to her friend quite loudly, "Look at all those people crowding the escalator! They must not know that the left side is the fast lane! Oh, tourists. sigh". I turned around and glared at her. I didn't mean to glare but I was taken aback by something in her tone. I guess it was her right to be in a rush, but honestly, i don't think that she was really in one. I feel as though she was just complaining about the idea that if she had in fact been in a hurry, these tourists would have hindered her metro fleeing swiftness. It's easier to notice annoyance of stranger in my mother tongue.

Anyway, its' been a very busy week in Washington. Jameson and I went to check out the Smithsonian and there was a special exhibit in the middle of the mall on solar houses.
20 different colleges from all over the world had constructed small houses which were built to demonstrate the future of energy efficient construction.

On the other end of the Mall, the Capitol building stood tall, gleaming white, with segways parked in front for tours. What a funny way to tour the nation's Capitol. What if you ran in to the president while on your segway tour, helmet and all. ha! how informal.

Opposite the capital was a immigrant rights protest. It felt strange to walk by a group of immigrants with Spanish blaring though the PA, the entire crowd waving American flags, so soon after being immigrants ourselves.

Friday

Virginia is for Lovers

After juggling ride shares and coming up empty handed. Laney's mother let us use her frequent flyer miles to get to DC. 
So we are now back in Virginia.
Thanks Mommy Beth!
The time we spent with my grandparents was the renewal I needed. The conversation and company was wonderful. I hope to visit them, my uncle and aunt, much more often. 
To all who haven't seen us yet, just wait. We will make our rounds. 

Thursday

The Georgia Aquarium

Today we went to the Georgia Aquarium in downtown Atlanta, which according to my uncle David is a grandparent staple.
Now I know why.















Inside are billions of gallons of water
and walls lined with exotic fish like:



















The Dragon Sea Horse, which has miniature propellers on its neck and tail to power it through the water, and used its exterior flaps to guide it. Or...















Garden Eels, which can grow as long as 18 inches. They live in the sand but pop up for food and conversation. or ...















Japanese Spider Crabs, which, when stretched out, their leg span is the size of a car. They eat mussels off of the ocean floor.

We arrived early when it opened, while divers were still cleaning the tanks and we had the place to ourselves.














I think my favorite part was the giant touch tubs where you could actually pet sea creatures like manna rays, sharks and shrimp.

We are still trying to line up a ride share back to DC. We have a few promising leads, and should be back to hills of old Virginia soon.

But first, we have to get above sea level.

Monday

Back on US soil

We made it safe, the plane touched down this morning and we are now kicking it with the Grandparents (Jameson's side).
















Stay tuned as we plan to continue blogging, even in the States.
We will see everyone soon!

Sunday

The to do list

Brunch. Walk. Bus. Metro. Colectivo (mini bus). Plane. Walk. Car. House. Bed.

See you soon Grandma and Grandad.

Saturday

Mil Tambores

This weekend marked the 10th annual Festival de Mil Tambores, which is a cultural arts festival that takes over the city´s streets, plazas and parques.
Some of the festivities include:

People on stilts













Giant puppets

















Nude body painting














Dancing
















Drum circles
















and Street Parades...just to name a few
















There are also live concerts and art markets all over the city.

Tonight we went to a concert at the Teatro Municipal. The musicians sat in a simmi circle and all took turns playing. If your interested, youtube Gepe or Lisandro Aristimuño to hear their music.

After the concert we bought some soy burgers from the many vegetarian street vendors here. Then we stumbled upon a giant plaza party and had a few drinks with the locals. Its nice to drink outside.
I am really going to miss this place

Thank you Valparaiso, for a perfect going away gift!