Because of the thin air at 14,200 feet above sea level, many flights from La Paz depart early in the AM to maximize the lift provided by the cool morning air; hence our departure at 4:30 am. We arrived in Bogota, which is also up in the mountains (8,600 feet), by about noon.
Our friends at Biodentales, Francisco and Sandra Forero, met us at the airport, helped us collect our bags and whisked us to a nice hotel, convenient to their offices and home. After dinner that night, we were ready for a good night’s sleep.
The next day was the day of the Centennial party in the evening. Sherry and I made a presentation to the Foreros of 2 bottles of special 10 year old Centennial Kentucky whiskey, that had been hand bottled and labeled.
Allen presents a bottle of the Centennial Whisky to Francisco Fiorero, GM at Biodentales.
We were all relieved that it had arrived intact after its 2 week trip through 3 countries. Whew! The caterer was given strict instructions when to open them and to pour the shots into the special glasses we sent down from Kentucky.
We arrived for the party around 6:00 pm. The caterer had set up a cocktail area with tall tables and stools and several Centennial banners that Biodentales had provided.
Sherry and Allen Steinbock pose for a photo at the party entrance.
The dining room was similarly decorated. It looked very nice, with tables and floral centerpieces and additional banners. The band was setting up in the front of the room and a photographer was getting shots of all the preparations.
The first hour of the event was in the cocktail area and featured their signature drink . . . a sweet rum. I focused my efforts more on meeting the guests than having drinks or appetizers. Most guests were from dental colleges. I believe there are 5 in Bogota, both public and private. Several guests were school deans and all were sincere in greeting us and happy to be present for this special occasion. There were also dental lab owners and their spouses. We were glad to see Carlos and Julio Grande from Cardent, our sales agent for Latin America. A violinist played throughout the cocktail hour, providing music from a medley of movie and classical pieces.
The violinist in action during the reception.
Allen and Sherry, and Mrs. Claudia Vargas and Mr. César Cortés pose for the camera.
At about 7:00 pm, the doors to the room opened and we all entered the dining room bathed in warm blue lights. Sherry and I were placed at the head table with the Foreros. Francisco welcomed all the guests and was most gracious with his words as he spoke about the special relationship he and his company have with Whip Mix. Then his Mother took the mic and told the audience about her 45 years running the Company, her happiness with her children, her clients, and her faith in the Whip Mix product line and the Steinbock Family. I was especially touched that she made most of her points in English so that I could not mistake the warm feelings that she intended for Sherry and me to understand.
Francisco presents a plaque to Sherry and Allen.
Mrs. Villa de Forero at the microphone.
When I spoke, my presentation mirrored her comments exactly. Then I invited all to join me in a toast to savor our past successes and to walk proudly together, arm in arm, into the future, where we would look forward to the opportunities to come. There was a hush as we sipped a taste of the Centennial Whiskey, followed by a roar of approval as the warmth of both the words and the whiskey spread through our bodies.
Both families toast the Past and the Future.
Key Biodentales Sales Associates and Carlos and Julio Grande of Cardent joined us at the dinner.
Allen and Francisco join Mr. Hernán Forero, Mrs. Sara Pérez, Mr. Edgar Ramírez, Mrs. Dora Huertas, Mrs. Yeinmin Granados and Mr. Jorge Rodríguez, for a toast.
Moments later, the band launched into a series of toe-tapping, foot-stomping songs known the world over, the food was whisked out to all the tables and diners began comparing notes on all manner of topics. At one point, I was even inspired to perform a hot Latin salsa dance with Francisco’s wife, Erika. That was no small feat at the 8,000 foot elevation!
One of many songs performed by the band.
As the band wound down and dessert was served, the sales women of Biodentales revived our flagging energy with a device using numbered balls that corresponded to the guests’ tickets. The winner would take home a brand new Whip Mix VPM Mini Mixer with bowls. Sherry chose the balls to insure neutrality. But somehow the first few balls were not acceptable… at least as I understood it, with all the Spanish being shouted back and forth.
Sherry draws the winning number.
Allen and Sherry pose with Mrs. Dora Huertas, who went home with the prize.
Finally, the winning ball was pulled, and an extremely elated young dental lab owner came to the front of the room. She hugged the Mixer, she hugged Sherry, she hugged me… it was clear that she was going home with the mixer that very night, so we packed it up and got it to her car! It was a great ending to a great evening South of the Border!