Wednesday, Plus the Eighth Day

Thursday, October 12, 2017
Cartagena, Bolivar, Colombia
Wednesday morning in church services was a slow day for me.  I played my flute with the hymns, but I had no translation responsibilities.  I did monitor the translated message.  We always have someone monitoring it to make sure the sound is coming across fine—not too loud or too soft; check it for static and other interference; or any other interruption in the sound.  This way we can catch it immediately and rectify the situation quickly, so that the listeners get a good message.
Earlier this morning, I had checked with Mario G. that all was prepared for this afternoon’s activity.  He assured me that all was in order.  We planned a group outing to Parque Espirtual del Manglar, a park here in Cartagena. He had arranged for two Chiva buses, to pick us up in the afternoon to take us to the park. The Chiva bus is a “typical” form of transportation used in the past, but now is used mainly for tourists.  It is an old school bus, converted into a multi-colored, open air bus.
At 2 PM, we all gathered in the lobby and boarded the buses when they arrived at 2:10 PM. Everyone was there, and we were on our way in about 10 minutes.  There were 67 of us in total.  This was the easiest group bus loading that we have had in the 5 years that we have been doing a group tour here in Cartagena.
It took us about 25 minutes to arrive to the park.  We unloaded and at the entrance we were told to not touch the animals, don’t walk on the grass, no smoking and no alcohol.  We all kind of chuckled about the last two items.   This park was designed to provide a green area for disadvantaged children in the city.  They have bronze statues of famous singers, writers, artist, athletes, musicians, etc. from Cartagena.  They have a sign in Spanish and English telling a small bit of the person’s accomplishments.
There is also a building for activities for small children, and stands to buy an empanada or a small drink.  The favorite drink was shaved ice with a generous squirt of flavoring—basically a snow cone.  This cost $2,000 pesos, or about 66 cents. I did not try one as I was not going to risk getting “unclean” ice. They also had a play area with children’s play equipment,  areas with chairs for relaxing, and also outdoor exercise equipment.
At 5 PM, everyone was ready to leave.  They said they enjoyed the relaxing day at the park.  We rode the Chiva bus back to the Regatta, and arrived just as the sun was setting welcoming the Sabbath—the Eighth Day of the Feast.
We showered and joined a group going out to a nearby restaurant—Cocina Arabe.  Several of us wanted a change of food.  Scott had been in the hotel room most of the day suffering with a virus all day, but wanted to go with us to eat.  We walked to the restaurant, and shortly after we got there, he decided that with the large group, it was going to take a long time to eat, and he wasn’t up to it, so he returned to the hotel.  It was nice to have a change of food, but I must say that the restaurant though advertised as a Mediterranean, Arab restaurant, had a distinct feel or influence of Colombian cooking.  It was nice for a change, but not as “Arab” like as restaurants as I have been to in the United States.
After dinner, I returned home with the group.  I went to bed soon afterwards, as Scott was already sleeping.
Thursday was the Eighth Day.  We had services at 10 AM today to accommodate those that must catch buses in the evening.  I played Offertory Music in the morning services, and the choral sang a piece for Special Music. I, also, translated for Scott’s sermon in the morning.
Most were checking out and leaving today, so those that were, had to check out during the lunch break.  They are able to store their luggage in the luggage room while we are in afternoon services.  Due to the airline strike, which caused an elevation in the bus prices, the group from Cucuta (about 30 people) had to leave at 2:00 PM.  If they took the later bus the price of the bus ticket would go from $150,000 pesos each to $250,000 pesos each ($51 USD to $84 USD). 
Afternoon services were at 2 PM.  Rodolfo gave a message about “Fountains of Living Water.”  These are things that provide life, as opposed to drinking from stagnant or contaminated water, which leads to death. Carolina sang a beautiful song for special music in the afternoon, and Jaime had the afternoon sermon.
After services, we said good bye to the rest that were there. It is sad to say good bye, but we look forward to seeing some of them again for the Days of Unleavened Bread in April. Jaime and Janet and Leo packed up the sound equipment.  I helped Marelvis take down the decorations. 
David S. informed us that his family was eating at El Carbon for dinner.  Anyone that was interested in joining them could do so.  Scott and I walked over to El Carbon to tell them that a group of about 15 people would be there for dinner.  I knew that if we showed up at 6 PM, they might not be able to accommodate a large group, so this way they would be prepared.
We met Rebecca and Rob in the lobby and walked over to the restaurant.  We were the first to arrive, and then Nadine and Owen came, and then David and his family along with Alejandro; then later on Janet, Jaime and Lorna showed up for something to eat.  Jaime had to ship the sound equipment back to Bogota, so they were unable to join us earlier. We had a great time.  Afterwards we walked to Crepes y Waffles for ice cream.  After I introduced David to this place early on in the Feast, they have gone there every night for ice cream.  He said he did not know whether to “thank me” or “chastise me” for that.  Fortunately, it is a walk of several blocks from the hotel, so one is able to walk off a few calories.
We returned to the hotel, said good bye to several and went to bed.