Dec 24 – Dreaming of a Cali-ente Xmas

Sunrise / Sunset: 6:08 / 6:03  (Hahaha, cheating time with a few extra hours of light!!)

Foo Song: All My Life, Salsa-ized Version: Watch it here. Es excelente!

Sunrise Pic:


Christmas in Cali is hot. Damn hot. Like upper 90’s hot and brilliant sunshine. But I’m not complaining. Plus, the 24th in Boston is apparently setting high temp records, too.  Today I slept in until 7:30 and then took Mateo out to the park down the street from my suegros’ (in-laws’) house in Cali’s Camino Real neighborhood. I wore my fancy new trail running shoes, and he wore high socks and cleats. That kid can chuck a football in full spiral really far. Good stuff.

Then I took off after a good breakfast of buñuelos, almojabanas, and a more diverse array of fruit on one plate than is possible to find in all of Boston. I walked alone down the street snapping a few pictures of life in Cali – funky street art, weird and bad taste, and depressing scenes.

When I’m in Cali, I feel untethered in a good way. My cell phone doesn’t work. I don’t run my life from my Gmail inbox, and I take crazy long naps. And Caro runs the show. I like it like that 🙂

After a good lunch of Chinese rice and homemade avocado-based hot sauce – kind of a watery super spicy guacamole that is actually awesome – I headed over to Palmetto Plaza with Alanita and Caro in search of our family tradition McDonald’s. We found Mickey D’s, and despite Alana’s protests (she’s been brainwashed into thinking fast food is evil, which it kind of is) to the contrary and appeals to Grandpa Reed’s past self, we got the grub, with a little McColombian flare:

This evening is a night of revelry, with sparklers, visits with family and friends. The emphasis isn’t on an endless stream of presents to open but on enjoying each others’ company. Sometimes it feels odd, as I don’t really get into the religious stuff at all, but the idea that it’s a shared cultural experience is pretty amazing. I do miss some of the cozy aspects of Xmas back home (not Xmas eve church candlelight Bible beating, though) and the adventure-seeking that comes from not having set norms to follow, where we’re like “let’s invent something to do” versus here in Cali where everyone follows a script that everyone understands – the definition of culture?

Most importantly, the fact that my kids are exposed to these differences and this tension, able to identify what they like better in each place, is pretty neat. And they can see this country in a way that so demystifies the Global South. They’d definitely read “Third World” and think it makes no sense, have a better sense about geography than 90% of well educated adults who always ask me if it’s Colombia’s winter in June (never winter here, as it’s right by the equator, not way far south just because it’s in South America – a distorted mental map many seem to have of the world), etc. And this all must go a long way to helping them consider other people, cultures, and races are not so very different from themselves… So, in a Christmas roasted nut shell (chestnut or otherwise), to paraphrase a popular credit card commercial from a few years ago, that’s priceless.


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