118.Transmitting happy without words for 24 hours straight.


Colombian grandfather and me.


I’ve been thinking a lot about my amazing New Year’s Eve experience in the small town two buses away from Bogota.

(I’ve been told off quite a lot about spelling both Colombia and Bogota incorrectly, by the way, with a passionate Latin tongue. So, I’ll be watching that in future)

I spent over 24 hours in the bosom of my friend’s family- probably about 40 of them.

Of that group there were three who could speak English. And I have about four phrases in Spanish; they take approximately 30 seconds to run through.

But I was a guest and they wanted me to be happy. So, I had to transmit happy without words – for quite an extended period.

I have to say they made it easy for me. I walked in the door and was immediately gripped by a dozen hugs from a dozen people, big passionate bear hugs with no escape.

Funny, I’m not much of a hugger really – but a good hugger makes it easy for anyone right (and uniquely not negotiable).

My friend was the chef for both of the big festivities, New Year’s Eve dinner (which happens at midnight) and New Year’s Day barbeque (so so much meat), so I really had to entertain myself.

You know, it’s not that hard to transmit happy; I’ve been trained by my dogs for years. Four simple things I have learned from them:

Be grateful you’re there

Assume the best of everyone

Smile a lot

Eat anything you’re offered

I also didn’t turn down any dances, even though 40 sets of eyes watched my every random move and I’m weirdly self-conscious about dancing without some kind of stimulant on board.

In this occasion I also had to wear what was offered as well, as hosts Isabel and David were particularly concerned I would be cold overnight so with no shared language they bought me the most ridiculous fluffy pyjamas from a local stall. I’m talking next level ridiculous. (There will be no photos of the pyjamas).

They made me look like a giant fluffy toy and there was much hilarity from the whole group. Initially I thought they were patterned with pink and blue polka dots but on closer inspection they were dog prints.

Which perfectly completes this little story.

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