My Journey to Becoming a Father, Part 3 of 5

This is a lightly edited transcription of a hand-written journal I kept while adopting my son in Colombia back in 1993.

Part 1 and Part 2, if you missed them.

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16.7.93
Nathaniel Miguel was released from the hospital today amid much wailing and gnashing of gums. The total cost of his four day stay including gammagraphy at the nuclear medicine department and ultrasound testing was 592,629 Pesos, about $750 U.S. He still needs intravenous antibiotics through a Heparin lock for the next ten days. Because Mary’s a Registered Nurse, we have an intravenous drip set up in our hotel room and enough syringes to keep New York’s junkies happy.

17.7.93
I had noticed before that about two blocks from our hotel is a residential street with roadblocks at either end manned by police with submachine guns and body armor. Found out today that the chief of the national police lives on that block.

18.7.93
Taking pictures of police or military installations might get you arrested or shot. I've wanted to take a picture of an unusual security measure I've seen atop several walls - shards of glass embedded in concrete. Since this is an upper-class neighborhood, there are private security guards everywhere. It’s probably not strictly illegal to take a picture of a private residence, but do I want to take a picture of a security wall when there’s an armed guard a half block from me?

19 de Julio 1993
Miguel’s Heparin lock started to leak and we returned to the hospital. Fairly rapid skilled service for 4,088 pesos or about $5.50. Who needs Hillary Rodham Clinton’s task force? Let Colombians run our healthcare industry.

20 de Julio
Today is Colombia’s Independence Day. There was a big parade about thirty blocks west of here. Didn’t go but did watch part of it on television. I read El Tiempo, one of the two main newspapers here, every day. I know just enough Spanish to get the gist of an article, but not enough to understand the subtleties. The Colombian foreign minister spent the day on San Andrés island in the Caribbean where she gave a speech in which she said that Colombia’s sovereignty over the archipelago of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina was not negotiable. Nicaragua has recently restated its claims to the islands and has petitioned the International Court of Justice in The Hague to hear the case. I would have thought that Nicaragua would have given up on the World Court by now and tried other options. During the Reagan years when America was mining the harbors in Nicaragua, the Managua government took the case to the ICJ and won. The U.S. Simply ignored the decision. The ICJ and the World Court may very well be a good ideas, but they have no enforcement powers.

21 de Julio
Busy day. Two trips to the hospital, the first to get supplies at the hospital pharmacy and a futile attempt to get Miguel’s medical records. The second trip was to a nephrologist for a follow-up exam. We hope to be able to switch from intravenous to oral antibiotics in a few days.

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There’s a radio station here that I’ll miss when we leave. They play Colombian pop music during the day and Argentine tango music at night.

22 de Julio
Bought a bottle of Peruvian vin ordinaire today. Had some Colombian wine a week ago. Before coming here, I thought that Argentina and Chile were the only wine-producing countries in South America. In retrospect, it’s not too surprising that countries as large as Colombia and Peru with terrain ranging from rainforest to high Andes would have some land suitable for viniculture.

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Isabel leaves for the U.S. tomorrow and her assistant will take over for her here. Isabel has been a great help to us and has often gone above and beyond the call of duty. She’s also lots of fun and will be missed.

23 de Julio
We went to the Museo del Oro today. They’ve got one of the best collections of pre-Colombian gold in the world, much of it intricate designs from the Muisca and Tolima cultures. The 45 minute ride there through the eastern part of the city along the edge of the Andean Cordillera was 2130 pesos on the meter, about $2.80. This was our first trip to downtown Bogotá. Now that Miguel is doing better, we hope to do more touristy things before heading back to los Estados Unidos.

24 de Julio
For my fiction reading while here, I’d brought a copy of War and Peace. Even being a first-time parent with a sick child, I’ve somehow managed to find the time to read over six hundred pages so far. It’s kind of strange reading about the lives of aristocratic Russians when everyone around me is speaking Spanish. If I ever go to Russia, I’ll have to bring a copy of One Hundred Years of Solitude or Don Quixote.

25 de Julio
Took the funicular to the top of Monserrate today, about 600 meters above the city center. Today was one of the few relatively clear days in Bogotá so we had a fine view. This being Sunday, it was crowded with pilgrims to the church at the summit.

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Downtown Bogotá has its seedy sections, street people, beggars, et cetera like any big city, but is not as dirty as some American cities I’ve been to. Gary, Indiana says hello.

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