So we start off Tuesday in Soacha. We meet 3 new people from Santa Fe club but this time we get the Transmillenio bus to the south of the city, then another bus and then negotiate a bus to take us up into Soacha, one of the slum towns that grip the hillside around Bogota.
We were going to visit new housing that Rotary santa fe had helped build. As with Cuidad Bolivar the streets are dirt tracks and there are no fancy paths leading upto front doors and gardens to watch life pass you by in. Here houses are built back to back. Waste water runs down makeshift open drains. Water only comes once every 8 days and is stored in water tanks on tin or plastic roofs. Homes consist of boxes made to resemble bedrooms, kitchens and if space allows a sitting area. We were kindly invited into Rosa's house. She was able to secure the land for her home at $1000 US. Rotary built a basic home for $3000 US. Rosa earns $10 per week. She has since built onto the basic home rotary built with local organisation www.covijo.com. She told us not to look at her poverty but was extremley proud of her house and invited us to take photos (we asked permission otherwise they wouldn`t be on this site). She lived in her home with her 2 children. She showed us to her nearby nieghbours house who again had made the best of what she had. This time there was a properly plumbed in toilet but plumbed into what i wasnt quite sure. Her 3 kids were home and the house was warm with rugs on the floor to take away the bare concrete look. The walls were decorated in whatever would brighten the place up - mona lisa even looked down on me! The house was over a split level (to follow the lie of the land)with the prefabricated part making up the upper areas. Rotary/Covijo`s priorities are to ensure that the families have good sleeping areas and kitchen/bathrooms. Creativity takes over from there.
Finally we went to a third home were the gentleman showed us round the immaculate bedrooms. With the space he had he was able to construct a dining area. He was very friendly and as we were leaving his wife was approaching and i think she was apologising for her home. We explained that her house was beautiful. However that shamed look was there in her eyes. What were we foriegners thinking of her home?
Despite the extreme poverty people were happier now with thier homes than what they had before. We questioned what the government was doing, what other organisations where doing and how did this area of 44 neighbourhoods, each with approx 108 families of at least 5 persons come to be ignored. Why in this day and age are people still living like that? It was a thoughtful bus ride back into central Bogota.
Los Ninos persuaded our parents to let us go off in the afternoon by ourselves and we wandered the streets and into a local shopping mall.
Later we went to Rotary Teusaquillo, the club of my parents.One thing after another and our presentation didnt work. My spanish is broken enough but without pictures to illustrate it was a bit weird! I didnt have a seat for dinner so i was promptly led up to the front of the room to eat at the top table. I wasnt hungry although the food was delicious. I met some people i had been invited to the home of in my first week. this time i could say slightly more than hola and gracias.
Today (Wed) we went to the Gold Museum. Gold collected by the Muiscas around Colombia. It was a very well presented museum and i would like to return. We were on a schedule and i didnt have time to take in all the exhibits. From there we went to the Botero musuem. Google the famous Colombian artists. Fat bottomed girls was his thing!
Later Nicola came back to my pad and we cooked Scotch Broth, Scones and Crannachan for our families.
My family are Mom and Pop Beatriz adn Enrique. They live with Toby the dog. At the end of the street is German, his wife Maria and their daughter Maria Alejandra. Enrique is an insurance lawyer and German works in insurance. Beatriz works hard in her rotary clubd as well as looking after the home along with Isabell the housekeeper. German usually drives me to meet with the rest of the group and is often over at Beatriz`s house. Their youngest son is Jaime and he has two daughters Natalia and Tatanya. I have met his wife also. They have a driver called Carlos. Beatriz`s two other children are Daniel who is a plastic surgeon in Mexico and Patricia who is a physiotherapist in Miami.
Enrique has not been well recently and has been in hospital twice since i have been here with swollen ankles and tests for sleep apnea. Beatriz is very nice and speaks enough english for me to have conversations with her. Tonight we all played the wii-fit. They are a friendly family and very welcoming and considerate. They put up with my bad spanish and try their hardest to make me feel at home here.
So thats it. From extreme poverty to relative luxury via the gold museum. Off to Ibague tomorrow for 4 days. District conference so must be on my best behaviour! Anyway.
Juanita (my new name!)