Every country I have been in has had a phrase describing the foreign experience. In Spain it was “oh, Spain”. In Mali it was “WAWA” or West Africa Wins Again. Today I learned the phrase “This Is Colombia” or T.I.C.

Today all the new staff had a TIC experience when we went to register our visas. Basically the visa process is long and complicated, so we just follow directions when given to us. That has worked… mostly.
Prior to today we were told that we would need to have photos taken at a shop called “photo japon”. Roughly translated it is Japanese photo place where they wear karate uniforms and charge you too much for 8 tiny photos of yourself looking horrible. We needed them to get ID cards that basically validate our existence in Colombia.

Today arrives and everyone has their pictures and paperwork ready to turn in for this process. We head down town on a big bus and enter the immigration center.  I am first in line and hand my stack of pictures and papers to the lady behind the counter. She looks through my things then gets to my overpriced pictures and goes “no good, you need a blue background, not a white one”. TIC! Those Photo Japon people told us wrong! I turn around and ask the rest of the group what they have… everyone has the same white background. Now, what??

Well, apparently a very smart entrepreneur  has set up business outside the immigration office for situations like ours. He grabs his blue screen, throws it over the bus stop advertisement, then one at a time lines us up and takes our picture. Outside. In public. On the main road. At the bus stop. If a bunch of “gringos” were not a sight already, this definitely made people’s days!

We all wait a few minutes for the man to print our pictures from his street cart-style photo shop, then head back into the office. This time the lady accepts our paperwork and we continue on with the process of being fingerprinted and photo graphed. Finally after about an hour, all 15 of us have official numbers! We are legit!
After our adventure, we went to see a few sights in the area. Here are some pictures!

Apparently when you want to watch the Olympics, you head to the local park, grab a provided bean bag chair and watch it on the big screen! Woah!
And we couldn’t help but join in as well!
Some of us “new staffers” with the Spanish teachers/tour guides!

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