chip wiegand

Welcome to my blog and website, I hope you find your visit interesting.

The same way that you are the main character of your story, you are only a secondary character in everybody else's story.

Don Miguel Ruiz

Happy New Year and Merry Christmas

26 December 2015

Hello to everyone! Happy new year and merry Christmas to you all!

I am doing fine. I started a new student a couple days ago. If I counted my students correctly I have nine adults (two married couples) and 6 children. That will change in January as a couple students I didn't count have taken December off for a vacation month, and one took the last two months because she got married today.

Many of the students take the month of December off from lessons because December and January are the long vacation break from schools here. That means I have no spare money for anything. But I still have enough to get by until they all get back on schedule.

So, for Christmas eve I went out for dinner with a lady friend and her mother. It was a nice evening at a nice restaurant except for the very poor service, loud music, and her mother's bi-polar disorder condition, all of which led to her mother not feeling well. Actually, we didn't get any food, because we had to leave before it was served, because her mother was feeling quite bad, this after we had been there about 2 1/2 hours or more. Nice restaurant, terrible service.

Here Christmas, like all holidays, is celebrated by partying, all night for most people, or at least well into the night, 2 or 3am. It's not a quiet, solemn, time. It's a party with dancing and lots of salsa and merengue music. Santa Claus is not common here, the traditions of Latin America are more towards the wisemen being the ones who bring the gifts, not some fat dude in a red and white fur suit. There are nativity scenes all over the city - in city parks and bus stations, businesses, in the malls. Some the city sets up, and some the people in the neighborhoods set up. Here non-believers do not complain and have these removed by the government, they are welcomed and enjoyed by everyone, everywhere. On the other hand, there is almost no traditional Christmas music, anywhere. Just salsa and merengue and champeta, vallanato and other styles. It's really nice to not hear all the same old, very old, Christmas songs played over and over, ad nauseam, for more than a month.

Christmas day is a quiet day for most people. There will be much music and celebrating, just not quite to the level as last night. Then they do it all again for the New Year celebration. Then again towards the end of January for the week of Carnaval. Carnaval week is also a school break, the entire week. Schools here have a couple short breaks, with the "winter" two-month break being the only long vacation.

On Christmas day I spend a few hours with my lady friend Vicki and it was nice. We talked alot, which we needed to do. And then we had lunch together and talked some more.

I got a message from David. He is doing well, under the circumstances, but doing well nonetheless. Here is what he wrote - " Hey dad happy holidays. What do people do down there for christmas? Do you have friends to be with for the holidays? I wish you the best and a great time whtever it is you do. I miss you alot and love you very much. Today is christmas eve and i worked today. Didnt do much but i did get a promotion, now im not just a .40 cent a hour laborer, im a .60 cent a hour laborer but with experience and knowledge Of the work. It doesnt sound like much but it is in here. My paychecks will be bigger, my usual Check would be about 30 $ evrry two weeks but now will be like 50$. this time of year we thin, which is cutting down smaller trees that over crowd the larger trrees, but in january we plant trees till about march. I have become great with a chainsaw, which is a good skill to know. No doubt this is the hardest work i have evrr done, and honestly dont think any tthing will ever come close. It is a experience im am happy to be part of. Well it beats being locked in a cell. "

I have been asked many times by people here why I am here teaching English, why here? why Colombia? why leave the USA? This is what I wrote to answer those questions:

I have always been the type of person who likes to help other people. I like to see other people improve their own lives. I did that for many years at church. I worked as a leader of a boys club. I helped them not just in church, but with other subjects as well. For example, we would go camping in the mountains and teach the boys how to build campfires, tie different types of knots in ropes, walk across rope bridges, go for hikes and play games in the forest. Some of the kids had never been camping before. They learned things that they never would have learned anywhere else. I did that for about 15 years, until I, and my wife, left that particular church to go to a different church.

So here I am in Colombia teaching english. I gave up my life in the USA because my life had no meaning. My wife had died, my sons were living far away and I was feeling empty, a part of my life was missing. I am here to help people. I want to see people improve their lives so they can get a better job, and that leads to their families living better because of the higher income. If I can help families improve their situation in life then I feel like I am doing something worthwhile.

It doesn't have to be Colombia, this is just the place I choose to come and start this new life. My desire is to be able to help low-income people learn english and earn a higher income, so that will improve the lives of their family, and not just this current generation, but the next after that will also be effected by this positive change. People learning english is something that will last for generations to come, it will effect their lives for generations, not just right now.

And yes, it is true I have no desire to live in the USA anymore. That country has many problems that you do not see on TV or in the news programs. The people of the country are losing more personal freedoms year after year after year. Here in Latin America we have the freedom and privacy that the USA had many years ago, prior to the 1980's, especially since the wide-spread use of the internet enabled the government to monitor just about everything the citizens are doing.

Yes, I do want to go back to visit my sons and my family and relatives and friends. I left some stuff in Arizona with a friend and would like to get some of it and bring it here, mostly certain official papers. But after visiting I would come back to where ever my new home is, whether that is Colombia or somewhere else.

As an english teacher I will never be rich, I will never earn a huge amount of money, but that does not concern me. My priority is helping other people. Personal possessions, things, are not important to me. I can live simply and inexpensively. I am not a high maintenance person. I lived the life with many things - a boat, 3 or more cars, a house and all the things that go with it. I don't need that anymore. Those are just distractions.

My goal is simple: help other people improve their lives and the lives of their families.

Well, that's about all for now. I do keep my website updated at least once a month, and have been posting pictures of Barranquilla in the photo album.

Till next time - Chao!

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