Last Day of Camp and Returning to Bogota

Tuesday, June 26, 2018
San Gil, Santander, Colombia
We were up early to finish packing and to get ready to leave today.  We always present a thank you card and tip to the kitchen staff on our last day of camp, so I had to verify with Valeria that they would be done by breakfast time.  She was up early getting the final signatures.  She really took her responsibility to design and create a card, and to get it signed by all, seriously.  It is a great feeling to see the campers mature in this manner. We think she would make a good artist! Most Colombian youth are very creative. Scott always enjoys looking at the graffiti in Colombia on the walls of buildings as they are very expressive.
I didn’t have any envelopes for the tip, so I had to create some from plain paper.  When we are in Colombia, we have learned to be creative to solve problems.  As breakfast was beginning, Scott asked the kitchen staff to come into the restaurant to make the presentation.  We thanked them for the delicious food, their faithful service to us, and for being so helpful.   We presented them with the card and a tip for each person. We try to personalize it for each one, and they are very appreciative.
Today for breakfast, we had cauldo de huevo, or Changua, also known as Egg Soup.  We have had this before, many years ago.  It was not my favorite soup, but having it this time it wasn’t too bad.  It is not something I would probably choose, but it did taste good.  It is a hot milk and chicken broth base, with chunks of potato, a poached egg, and toasted bread crumbs.  We also had arepa with cheese slices. Scott says, and the campers always laugh, “In the world tomorrow, this will not be available for breakfast!”
After breakfast, we had a short period of time to finish packing.  Scott and I took this time to finalize our payment at the hotel reception.  They said they were very happy with our group, and also told us that they had recommended to the hotel administration that next year that they not have any large groups when we come.  We thanked them for their consideration to our needs.   We made a tentative reservation next year and gave them the dates for our Youth Camp.
We returned to the salon for camper speeches.  Rodolfo organized this section.  He encouraged them to take the opportunity to express what they had learned at camp, how it had changed them, how they were going to use it in the coming year, what they liked about camp or didn’t like about camp so that we could make it better, etc.  He made a few small comments between the speeches helping the campers understand how those lessons can affect their future. 
Some of the speeches were very heartfelt.  One of the oldest campers encouraged the other campers to take every advantage offered here at camp. Another camper said that he really appreciated being here this week, as he is the only one in his family in the church and in his country, and he will not see anyone until next year.  Another girl expressed that life is hard for her as she is often bullied, and she really appreciates the safe environment here.   Another girl said that she is the only one in her family except her sister, in the church.  Her parents and family often are critical about the church and church activities, trying to discourage her from attending.  She really appreciates all the support from campers and staff that she has received here at camp.  I and most of the campers had tears in our eyes as we heard these stories.  Our children are at risk; these camps are very valuable to the youth.  We look forward seeing most of these campers again at the Feast of Tabernacles so that they can receive another boost during the year. It makes all our work worthwhile to watch them grow in the grace and knowledge of God, and as a family. Each year we see more growth. Our long trip home gives us both a long time to reflect on what God is doing here in Colombia.
We had a short break, and then Scott presented the final Christian Living topic of Live Your Story.  The campers have been given a special opportunity here at camp.  They have an opportunity, unlike all their friends, to live God’s way of life.   Seek God while He can be found. Capture the vision that God has for you and live it! Take it home and spread what you’ve learned in your homes, communities and at church. 
We had lunch next. The main dish was lasagna.  Even though it tasted good, it did not look like any lasagna that I have had before.  It was layers of pasta, spinach, ground beef, and cheese.  There was no tomato sauce in it.  Scott had a chicken leg quarter and a spinach quiche.  He can’t have eggs, so he couldn’t eat the quiche.  The kitchen staff said they could cook up some vegetables, but we were almost done eating by that time, and we did not have time to wait for them.  So he had a rather skimpy lunch. He knew this was going to be a long day, as the bus ride offers no food.
Everyone retrieved their luggage from their rooms and met in the lobby for the taxis.  We got the first one as we had three people with three big bags, and the first taxi was a larger one.  We arrived at the bus terminal.  I approached bus counters. One had a bus leaving in five minutes; they promised Wi-Fi and bathrooms, and seats near the front.  Even though we again couldn’t pay by credit card (their connection was down which seems to be typical), we had planned for this inconvenience and Scott paid with cash. He carries only enough money to pay what is needed, no more. This way if we are ever robbed, we only “give away” very little.
We got on the bus and our assigned seats were occupied by passengers coming from Bucaramanga.  The bus driver talked to them and they were getting off at the next stop (20 minutes), so he found us three other temporary seats.  David and Leo arrived shortly after this.  They were also taking this bus to Bogotá.
After the first stop, we were moved to two front seats and one second row seat.  This bus was not as bouncy as the bus coming to San Gil, but the internet was not as good.  It would upload emails partially, but trying to connect to any web site was nearly impossible. I took the time for the first two hours to type on my blogs—I was a couple of days behind.   Then we stopped for a half hour break.  Scott got a piece of beef and potatoes.  The beef was tough, and he gave the potatoes to David and Leo.  Montana and I did not care to buy any food.  I ate some almonds that I had with me.
After the bus stop, I looked out the window.  It was an education of Colombia.  I took a lot of pictures of life in Colombia as we passed by.  Life is so different here.  As a whole, I would say that life is generally more difficult here.  Farm work is all done by hand.  Work in general is less mechanized.  It is hard to describe it all, so if you view the pictures, it will give some idea of what I mean.  It is difficult to take pictures on a bouncing moving bus, so some of the pictures will be not as clear as I would like.
After the sunset, about 6:00 p.m., I snoozed.  I was tired from camp.  We finally arrived at the bus station at 9:00 p.m.  We found the taxi booth.  I asked for a large taxi, but the next taxi in line was a small one.  The attendant gave me a ticket for that taxi anyway.   We were all silently praying that a large taxi would be available.  There was a SUV taxi by the curb running, door open, but no taxi driver.  Scott thought he recognized the vehicle from last year. All of a sudden, a driver showed up and said he could take us.  We were all surprised to see who it was.  The same driver that we had used last year when we arrived from camp with four people and four bags, and we really needed a large taxi. We remembered the taxi driver as he reminded us of the guy with the black rimmed glasses from Jurassic Park. He is a quirky sort of guy, but jovial and friendly. He drives rather slowly like he doesn’t care what is happening around him. We found it odd to have this driver two years in a row, and Scott said, “Maybe he is an angel.” Who knows! He was there when we needed him and we were thankful. Scott and he had a good chat about how Colombia had won their last game in the World Cup. Scott asked him if his favorite word was “Goal!” Like a Colombian, Scott held the word for a long time, “Goalllllllllllllllllllll!” We laughed.
We checked in to our hotel, and even though it was late, we went to the restaurant to eat. Montana and I had a salad with salmon strips on it.  Scott ordered a steak and it came very well done. He could hardly chew it, even though he had ordered it medium. We did not want to wait for them to recook another steak, so he ordered a salad. We returned to the room and we all took showers. Montana had an early flight tomorrow morning, so we said good bye before she went to bed. She would need to wake up in about 2 hours. I checked in for our flights. I was unable to do that on the bus with the poor internet. We crawled in to bed shortly after 11:00 p.m. It was going to be a short night for all of us, as we would be out of the room a little after 5:00 a.m.


Bernie M.

Thank you for taking the time to include us, computer bound, in your camp experience.