Onwards and (hopefully!) upwards....
Trip Start Feb 09, 2011
21Trip End Ongoing
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Sorry it's been a while. I've been very busy.
How is everyone back in the UK? Good I hope.
Well, my time in Medellín is nearly over and what an experience it's been! I have just been offered an exciting, and relatively lucrative, work opportunity in the US this Summer. I'm going to accept it. It means leaving Colombia about 2 weeks earlier than originally planned (on Monday!!) but it also gives me at least a slim chance to come back here.
I'll be working for this company:
The owner of the company seems keen on a few things, and I'd put them in a very particular, surprising, order of preference:
1.) My accent
2.) My face! He was careful to tell he had a wife and 2 young twins so I'm not overly concerned! He's also promised not to try and pimp me out.
3.) My experience
4.) My Spanish
Basically he feels that a Brit, doing certain types of work in Minneapolis, will go down very well, and ultimately help him grow his business. I guess I might be fortunate enough that it's not a place anywhere near the size or profile of LA or New York, where there are of course thousands of Brits and probably lots working in security related areas!
I can work for 3 months without a visa, then it becomes very complicated so we're definitely going to take it all one day at a time. If you take a look at the website you'll understand that I can't go into a huge amount of depth about the work, or at least some it. For this reason, the below, while no secret, is for you blog readers only. Essentially, my role will be very diverse, which I'm looking forward to a lot.
-My first assignment is 3 days' bodyguarding at a political convention where I'll be assigned one keynote speaker to look after for the entirety. There are some other similar events lined up later in the summer.
-I will be exploring business development opportunities in Latin America, using my Spanish, and in Minneapolis, using my proper, non-Yank, English. Basically looking for more security consulting work, private investigative work for businesses (the 'soft' end of the security market) and opportunities to sub-contract security of copper and gold mines in Colombia
-I will also be managing a team of 5 doorman at a huge club in downtown Minneapolis 2-3 times a week
The last bit is the least exciting and not really what I want to be doing, but worth accepting so I can do the other stuff. It's also a far, far better than feeling my genitals shrink while wrapped up in a North Face jacket and long-johns outside the Corn Exchange in Leeds at 4am on a Sunday morning, in a non-supervisory role!
We'll see where it leads, perhaps nowhere, but at least I'm (hopefully) in for a summer of great experiences and good money. I am feeling immensely disappointed, and guilty, to miss 2 very close friends' weddings by staying here. However as a self-employed, experience seeking Bum, I gotta grab it with both hands! Please see personal messages below.
This weekend, I will be seeing Jim (Matt Damon from Argentina in February!).on the Caribbean Coast. I can't wait, both to see my old mate and a new part of Colombia, with different problems and risks.
It occurred to me that this weekend will represent the first physical contact (as it were; we are not that close) with anyone from my life back home for nearly 5 months. It often all feels like a bit of a dream to be honest, even more so with what's just cropped up in the US. I miss everyone back home a lot, I'm just not quite ready to wake up yet!
From the weekend with Jim, I go straight on to the US, via a complex 19 hour journey, to start work on the 16th with a briefing and site visit in Minneapolis for the first assignment.
My friends in Minneapolis, of which I now have more than 10!, have been fantastic.Very welcoming, generous people. I am staying with the boyfriend of a friend's sister, who's kindly offered me a free room in a nice part of town in return for nothing but teaching him Krav Maga or, in his words, 'to be a ninja'. Guess he'll be disappointed, as will I if the rent goes up! It's a great deal and I'm very lucky, especially since I'll be earning over there anyway.
The City is beautiful. It has 2 sides, Minneapolis itself and neighbouring Saint Paul, which reminds me of an upmarket Camden but not quite Highgate! They are divided by the Mississippi river. I am sharing my favourite photo from my trip with you. The people are very friendly and there's a lot of great, free, outdoor stuff to do too, especially in the summer which is very hot there.
Main attractions/activities are waterfalls, bike trails, hikes, fishing, lakes, loads and loads of massive lakes! In some ways, I just find that Americans have a higher standard of living for less cost, particularly in the food department. I'm looking forward to another tall stack of blueberry pancakes. Minneapolis is also famous for it's beer, borne out of it's impressive water supply and reserves.
I'll keep my blog going and stay in touch as much as I have been.
Some of you have requested more music - not hip hop! The song below is by a Nicaraguan singer, Luis Enrique, very popular in Colombia at the moment.
He is singing to a girl, basically saying that he does not know what the future holds, what tomorrow will bring, whether they will be together tomorrow, whether the world will come crashing down tomorrow etc.
Here particularly, I feel I never know what's around the corner and in this respect I think Enrique talks lots of sense! Turn up the volume and enjoy!
Take care and write soon.
Love Ben X
A few personal messages:
Auntie Rita-belated Happy Birthday! x
Grandma-you're the most internet savvy grandma I know-keep the emails coming. Stay safe x
Mum, Sam, Dad-Love and miss you all x
Peter-stay safe in Afghanistan x
Kirsten and Big Jimmy-I am so, so sorry I won't be there on the special days of 2 such close friends. I will be in there in spirit for sure. All my best wishes for many, many long, happy years together (with your respective partners of course, you don't know eachother!) x
Over and Out. X B.