Our unenviable stamp of approval

I got married recently and was lucky enough to receive many generous gifts from my family and friends but my favourite, if you’re allowed a favourite, was the seven shiny new dairy cows my husband and I received from my father-in-law.

You cannot receive a cow as a gift, or seven, if you’re a city person and not immediately want to meet that cow, or seven, so my husband and I went to the farm where they now live, paying their rent in milk. We hung over a wooden rail and watched as three cowboys separated our cows from the rest of the corralled herd. It wasn’t difficult.

“I’m really sorry,” my new husband said.

“Don’t worry about it,” I said.

“It looks bad, doesn’t it?”

“Not really,” I said, watching a cow trot past with an unusual stamp on its rear. “It could be anything.”

A friend once told me she believed accountants rule England in the same way lawyers rule the United States, and I would like to add that I believe accountants rule England in the same way lawyers rule the United States, and public officials rule Colombia. Interpretations of our numerous laws are so varied, in fact, and so impossible to pin down, that none of us ever knows what we’re doing and all of us quake before Colombian officialdom because Colombian officialdom is mightier than God.

(If you object to the statement, please just take a second to imagine Jesus Christ in a notary’s office, or perhaps the DIAN. “Father’s name?” they would say. “I have two,” he would reply. “We need a name.” “Okay, just put God.” “We’re going to need God’s cedula.” “God doesn’t have a cedula.” “Then we can’t help.” “Okay, put Joseph.” “Is he your father?” “Technically, no.” “Then we can’t help.” “Do you believe in God?” “Yes.” “Then put God.” “Does he have a cedula?”)

My husband went to just such an office to register the stamp for what would later become the identity of our seven-strong herd.

“Design here,” the woman said, pointing to a box on a sheet of paper.

My husband, a singer, drew a treble clef. The woman barely glanced at it.

“Not available,” she said, and gave him a new piece of paper.

My husband looked out of the window, thought for a second and with some care, drew a tiny tree. The woman barely glanced at it.

“Not available,” she said, and gave him a new piece of paper.

My husband looked out of the window again, thought for another second and with some care, drew a little flower. The woman barely glanced at it.

“Not available,” she said, and gave him a new piece of paper.

My husband didn’t think that time. He drew a quick outline on the paper and gave it back to the woman. She looked shocked, but then a wicked gleam appeared in her eye. She took her own stamp and pressed it carefully beside the image.

“All done,” she said. “Can I help you with anything else?”

“Wait,” my husband said, panicked. “I mean, I didn’t mean…”

“Don’t forget your papers,” she said. “Next please.”

My husband returned to the farm and showed the image to a farm worker whose unenviable duty it is to brand new dairy cows. The man shifted uncomfortably.

“What’s that?” he said.

“That?” my husband replied. “Why that’s two eyes and a nose.”

Like this? You’ll love Colombia a comedy of errors.

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2 Comments

  1. alittlecameo

    I’m actually very surprised that design hadn’t already been taken by some virile rancher… However you now have the most recognisable cows in Colombia, that should keep any wannabe rustlers away.

    May your cows ever be fertile.

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