Colombia-CSC: The First Week in Review

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As Monday flipped into Tuesday, I wondered what the day would bring.  I did not sleep well and had set my watch alarm, my tabletop clock alarm, and my phone alarm to ensure that I would have a timely Tuesday arrival.  A punctual arrival was not an issue, but Tuesday tested me in new ways.  I cannot recall a time when I had to overcome language and cultural barriers while learning the client’s needs and delivering a sound solution in a compressed time frame.

The good news is that our team strategized and developed a working plan in the morning.  When we presented it to the clients that afternoon, they not only approved of it, they embraced it.  By listening to the clients’ needs and finding the signal through the noise, we were able to pinpoint their current pain points and find a solution that will allow them to move forward.
While the day’s events were successful, I was just not adjusting well. In addition to the language and the cultural barriers, I was also part of an international team, and while we seemed to work well together, we were still unsure of what roles we would play as the week progressed. First impressions are difficult to break and no one wants to seem as if he or she won’t be able to deliver.
In addition, I was still suffering from Acute Mountain Sickness (AWS) and was extremely tired and unable to concentrate. As the day wore on, I became angry and disappointed with myself for not having the stamina to overcome the AWS and the sleepiness.  For those of you who are younger, let me explain: you don’t age gradually; you age in one day.  One day you are a mountain, an immovable force; the next day you a pile of dirt.  I try to stay fit and had never experienced this before, so it just made me that much more frustrated. Fortunately, rest finally found me and the hope for better days were on the horizon.
Each sunrise brings promise and Wednesday was a complete 180-degree change from Tuesday.  The morning was a continuation of Wednesday, where we refined our initial idea and put it on paper.  In the afternoon, we attended a meeting with a partner of the Water Fund and discussed their current process and mapped out a way in which the new solution could be integrated. It was a very difficult meeting for me to follow as it alternated between Spanish and English. When they were speaking Spanish, my eyes would glaze over, then they would switch to English and I’d have to try to focus back on the conversation.  The change for me happened when they brought in coffee and some fabulous pastries
The pastries were just the perfect blend of sweetness.  They even brought over some extras for me.  Then, in a spirit of spontaneity, I went into a riff about how great the pastries were and how I could not get enough of the coffee (and I’m not a coffee drinker).  I continued by telling them that this was one the best meetings I’ve ever attended and that we should have one every day. They all laughed*, and I was once again a mountain.  As long as I could relate to them through humor, all would be well, I thought. After work, our client took us to a bar-like facility to play Tejo. It was an explosively good time. Afterward, I met up with some colleagues and we shared in drink and merriment.  Overall, it was a Hump Day to remember.
Thursday involved consolidating notes and reworking the SOW, so that we would be prepared for the next week.  Overall, the day was without issue and a cadence was finally being developed. As the sun crossed the sky, we headed out with one of our clients to La Candelaria.  We walked around and stopped for coffee.  Then we walked around some more and stopped for some crepes and waffles. Then we walked around some more and stopped at a deli for a beer and some sandwiches.  And then it happened.

As I sat there drinking a beer and taking in all that had occurred in the last few days, a sudden calmness surrounded me and entered my soul.  I’m quite sure that the beer was not an influence as  I’ve experienced this feeling from time-to-time, but it does not occur often.  It’s as if time stops, and for a moment;  life is complete perfection.  There were no worries, no cares, no past, no future, just the present and it was complete bliss.  As I looked over at my teammate, I realized that she was having the same experience. And that feeling is what will carry me through the next three weeks.   It’s also a good time to end this blog because  Friday turned out to be a unique day and therefore it deserves its own special blog. 

*Humor is in the delivery, not in the content.



About saturdaythe14th

I'm willing to write about anything, so feel free to send me a topic.
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One Response to Colombia-CSC: The First Week in Review

  1. Pingback: Colombia-CSC: The Third Week in Review | Saturday the 14th

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