It’s not often that you get to play with a piece of steampunk genius like the Ottmar Mergenthaler Linotype. This thing was a work of Rube Goldberg art … if you’ve ever seen one in operation, it groaned and hissed, clanked and whirred …
This one sits in the lobby of the La Patria newspaper, here in Manizales, Colombia. This is a growing town, carved out of the Andes. Just getting here was a chore … we couldn’t fly in here on Sunday from Bogota because the weather was bad. And by bad, I mean that the clouds that swirl around the knife-edge volcanic peaks hereabouts were impenetrable.
So we were given the choice of waiting around the airport in Bogota until the weather cleared up – which, they warned us, could be an hour or could be a week – or flying to Pereira and taking a bus through the winding mountain roads to Manizales.
Mindful of the fact that we were scheduled to begin a training session the next morning bright & early at 8 a.m., we chose to take the bus.
Pictures from that adventure will be posted later. We were operating on about 7 hours of sleep in 3 days by that point, so perhaps our decision-making process wasn’t the sharpest. Still, we made it here in about an hour and a half. Unfortunately, it was at that time that we discovered that contrary to their earlier representations, the bus company had no intention whatsoever of taking us to the airport like they had promised.
No, they were going to unceremoniously dump us off at the bus depot on the outskirts of town, where there lurked any number of skeevy-looking characters, eyeing us up like well-marinated flank steak. We chose to bribe the driver to take us to the hotel, and checked in, to collapse on the bed for three hours.
Strangely, once again we found that for some reason, the Public Works departments here in Colombia seem to think that street and sidewalk repairs should properly be conducted late on Sunday nights. I dunno – maybe it’s best then, because that’s when there is no foot traffic? Maybe that’s when they can work safely without having their equipment stolen the minute they turn their backs? Man, I’m at a loss on that one.
Anyway, the first sessions here have been a little sticky – our Spanish was a bit rusty and the sleep deprivation didn’t help – I found myself stammering and wondering what the hell word it was that I was desperately clawing my memory banks for, unable to even remember what it was that I was trying to say in English, because of the dissonance of the various languages all bouncing around in my head.
Still, the staff here is eager to learn, and they have been enthusiastic about what the future might hold.
But for now – here’s a blast from the past – something I had never seen before – a linotype keyboard with the accents on the vowels and the tilde over the Ã±