domingo, 27 de noviembre de 2011

Thanksgiving and Final Site Placement!!!

This past Thursday was memorable to say the least!  It was an action packed day and at first it slipped my mind that it was Thanksgiving (Día de Acción de Gracias, if you will) until that first Happy Thanksgiving hug I received from a fellow trainee.  Peace Corps Colombia set up a special day for us from start to finish.  We started by visiting the famed Museo del Caribe all morning learning more about the costal areas and unique costal culture in Colombia.

This here is a traditional meeting place for elders of the community. It a beautiful structure in the shape of a tepee (sp?) only the top does not close off completely. It was left open to better commune with nature and also allow for shadows to tell time. (At least I'm pretty sure that's what the guide Spanish isn't that great, folks!) Only men were permitted to enter to discuss community issues and come to decisions, so, quite naturally, we kicked all the men out and took a picture.  (No disrespect, just sayin')

There was an amazing room dedicated to Gabriel García Márquez in the museum too.  The entire presentation about his life and works was this amazing picture and light show projected onto the walls.  Trippy!  The room was full of period pieces to 'set the mood' so to speak.  Here I am having entirely too much fun playing with a typewriter...


And here I am in front of a very famous image on the coast.  Before I moved to Colombia, during my diligent research phase (cough, cough), I read that Colombia is considered to have the purest Spanish outside of Spain. This made me quite happy considering I lived in Spain and still speak Spanish with a lisp! (To the frustration of our language professors) So I arrived in Barranquilla thinking that I had a leg up...which I quickly found out to be false! Although I'm told the Spanish spoken in the interior of the country is quite different and quite proper, the costeños here speak very, very quickly and cut off the ends of nearly every word as far as I can tell (typical of most coastal areas).  There's an expression here that speaks to this: comerse sus letras/sonidos.  Which means to eat your letters or sounds.  Furthermore, I don't know what they have against the letter 'd' but it just disappears at the end of words. For example, Pescado becomes pescao (that ao dipthong actually makes it a very portuguese sounding word) and raspado becomes raspao.  And if all of that didn't make the learning of 'costeñol' -the way los costeños speak español- hard enough, enter the slang.  If you don't use at least one slang word in every sentence, you simply are not speaking the language here on the coast!  It's been fun learning a lot of the slang and this image I'm sitting in front of is a compilation of some of the more popular expressions:

And now all of our Spanish Professors in front of the wall:

After the museo in the morning we went back to the Peace Corps. office to learn where we would be living for the next two years!!!  But more about that later...

After the site announcement we had a full-fledged American, with a bit of Latin infusion, Thanksgiving dinner!  Everybody who works at the office were amazing and all cooked something special to bring to to the party. In addition to the food, they all brought their was quite the cultural exchange ;)

And what Thanksgiving is complete without kicking back, ful lleno (translation: full full...seriously), for some football?  Yes, I hate football.  But it was an aircondioned room with a couch which seemed like the perfect place to take my tummy ache!

And now for the big announcement!  The reason I was so excited that I forgot it was Thanksgiving. So, where I will be living for the next two years completing my Peace Corps service...drumroll please..CARTAGENA!!!  Good, so now you can all start making your travel arrangements :)  I don't know much about my site, the school I will be working at, but I'm meeting with someone from the school this week and traveling back to Cartagena to get to know the school and the community a bit before officially completing training and moving Cartagena Jan. 15th.  So this will be our Peace  Corp crew in Cartagena:

Top Row: Kasper, Amanda, Me, Mike D, and Mike B
Second Row: Christina and Abby

I hope you all enjoyed your Thanksgiving and the unofficial kickoff into the holiday season.  I had my first Skype date with my parents since moving to Colombia. They are out in Colorado visiting my brother and his lovely wife and it's made me so happy that can't help but share it. 

Peace Corps is making my sappy.  All that hippy love must be rubbing off on me or something.  Regardless, I hope you are all still as thankful as I am and are enjoying the holidays.  Thanks for thinking about me and reading the blog.  Miss you!

Pretty Pictures of Santa Marta

I know it's been awhile since I've updated the blog, but not having internet will do that to you!  So to make it up to all of you, I'll add lots of pretty pictures this go around :)

This is the amaaaaazing view (night time via the lens of a camera does it no justice) of a small town outside of Santa Marta called Rodadero.  I had the absolute pleasure of joining my host family as they visited their son in Santa Marta several weeks ago.  Their son has a one month old baby, so needless to say I was in heaven!

I never would have been able to experience Santa Marta if it weren't for the wonderful hospitality of not only my host family, the ones who signed up for taking care of a gringa, but their wonderful children and extended family.  I am incredibly lucky! Speaking of experiencing Santa Marta, we went up into the Sierra Nevada's a little bit and pulled of into this amazing paradise to spend the afternoon swimming in a pool and frolicking in the river! Once again, playing with kids the whole day. Perfect!


And you'll have to excuse the general disorder of my appearance, but I was underprepared for this trip to say the least!  But here I am dipping my toes into the Caribbean Sea for the first time in Colombia.

So now I've seen, and by this blog so have you you, the three potential cities that I will be living in for the next two years.  Stay tuned for the next post to find out where my final destination in Colombia will be!!

jueves, 3 de noviembre de 2011


Hola a todos! 

So this blog is going to be easy on the eyes seeing as I just got back from Cartagena where several of us trainees went to visit Peace Corps Response Volunteers who have been working with several schools in the area. Peace Corps Response Volunteers are Volunteers who have already served their two years (and then some in most cases) who Peace Corps has then contacted to step up in times of need.  Many Response Volunteers actually came for the major flooding that Colombia has been experiencing and are now working as English Teachers in Cartagena, Barranquilla, and Santa Marta. 

This quick 1 day, 2 night trip was exactly what we needed!  A break from all the typical classwork we've been doing in Barranquilla and another adventure into the public school system!  We encountered very energetic students and teachers for the most part which is very encouraging for the work that we'll be doing.  So about 9 out of our group of 23 will be following up the work that the Response Volunteers have been doing and the rest will be starting our own programs in January.  Stay tuned for lots more about that later.  As for now, just look at the pretty pictures:

And, it was a good friend's birthday, so of course we made some time to learn a little bit about the night life in Cartagena too!

Miss you all so much! Thanks for taking the time to read my blogs, by the way, it really does mean a lot!



School Visit

So sorry to disappoint.  I know last time I said that I was talk move about the culture a bit, but we ended up visiting our first school last week that I wanted to show you all pictures of :)

Our group of 23 Peace Corps trainees down here were divided up and we went to 4 different schools that ministry of education had chosen as exceling in their bilingual programs. We definitely got a welcome we didn't deserve!

So after being welcomed like royalty, eating amazing food, watching beautiful dances, listening to incredible music, and learning more about the history and culture of Barranquilla from all the students K-11th Grade (The last school year before University) we then went into a smaller room with just the older students and answered questions and did a few fun English activities. We even taught some yoga as a cultural exchange. Yoga's not very popular here at all, but whenever I mention yoga, people are interested.  The students loved learning a few poses :)

Well, that's enough for one post!  Suffice to say we are all really excited to get out of training and into the schools! Hope you all are doing well and hope to get another blog up soon about my trip to Cartagena!