Sunday, February 29, 2004

I asked G to remind me of all the names of the "weird" ;) foods I ate in Colombia, here's what he sent me plus my comments in italics:

>The first days:

- Granadilla: the fruit you didn't like :-( Ok, this fruit was really weird... it was like a sweet, almost mucus-y mass with lots of little black seeds that were apparently ok to swallow, but yeah... I just couldn't do it. the seeds were a little smaller than watermelon seeds, it looked kind of like it was going to peel like an orange, but then it cracked open somewhat like an egg...
- Sweets of corozo, níspero
- Curuba ice cream at Jackie's (Molli fruit??) Yeah, that was really yum! a bit tangy

juices of
- Corozo (red fruit with a seed in the middle)
- Maracuyá (fruit of passion)
- Zapote
- Níspero (brown fruit)
- Melón (water melon) Hey, I know this one!
- Guayaba (guava)
- Naranja y mandarina. (sweet juices) I know this one too, oranges and tangerines! :D
- Tomate de árbol (tamarillo??)

- Empanadas de queso (corn wrapped cheese) this was yummy, but I was only allowed to have it once :( pretty heavy actually, I think they deep fryed the stuff. It's a cornmeal dough around soft melted cheese. I had it before I was sick, so they thought maybe somehow it was connected.... I kind of doubt it, I'm still voting for water...
- Buñuelos (rounded corn brownish thing)
- Peto caliente (white corn and cheese in milk that my dad gave you, from the guy with the portable kitchen) was there cheese in this? it had cinnamon too, kind of like a hot cereal thing really

I'll put up more as I remember... maybe even my recipies...

Thursday, February 26, 2004

From 12/13/04
Here we are in Cartegena. It's a beautiful old city. but since it's tourist-y there are a bunch of annoying people who try to sell you tours or change your money. Bugger off! Ah well. We're staying in a little place called "The 3 Flags". It's about $35-38 US per night on the gorund floor. only coffee included. Bummer. Jackie - the lady we had lunch with yesterday called them for us. She had wanted to get us another place that was cheaper & had breakfast included but they were full. bummer. This is still cheaper than the places his sister was finding, & it's very cute. A plant & palmtree filled courtyard on each side with a waterfall rock wall, plus one side has some birds.

The other day we went to visit one of G's "Aunts". It was a BIG old house, that was probably very grand once, but it was bit old and falling apart and dirty. She had a nice courtyard full of plants, & a little white bunny, & a dog & a monkey & several birds. One little green parrot took quite a liking to me & spent quite a time on my finger & hand. Liked to gnaw on my ring. There was a grungy little boy who liked me too - led me by the hand around abouts - took me over to a chair to sit down. He had a bath in a plastic tub while we were there, but burbled up something on his shirt almost immediately afterwards. He really liked my sunglasses too. The aunt was a tiny woman with blue, blue eyes & white hair, and slightly grungy pink colloutes. It was probably the "poorest" place we'd been the whole trip & yesterday at Jackies penthouse type apartment was probably the most expensive. What a contrast... After lunch at Jackie's we went to her BF George's (also an old friend of G's, we met Jackie through him) for some aura cleansing & improvisational music making. George is 42 & lives with his parents. While in the states that would probably lead to comparisons to George Costanza a la Seinfield, it's quite normal and even expected for people to live with their parents until they get married & possibly even afterwards! Foreign concepts for me. totally different. I mean I guess it makes sense economically & all really.
*that was quite a spin! back to Cartagena!*

We ate at a Hare Krisna restaurant for lunch - good vegetarian food & pineapple/coconut juice! & then we cashed some travelers checks. They didn't charge commission because it was an American Express bank. pfft! Should have done that in B'quilla. Oh well. Tomorrow we go to some pretty islands. I just hope we can leave our stuff at the hotel, because toting it around all day will be not only a drag, but stressful to keep track of, worrying about stuff getting stolen the whole time... but check out is at 1:00, & the boat won't come back till 4 or so... grrr.

*note* not only did they let us keep our bags at the hotel, she let us shower in one of the new rooms that is being remodeled when we got back, and before calling us a taxi. I guess the new rooms are going to have to be cleaned anyway, so why not let us wash the salt off? on the ride home heard the "I smell deer" song, and it was SOOOOO cold! The A/C was up big time. finally we got him to turn it off when we got back to B'quilla, which took forever to get through because of some parades or something blocking the streets.

Friday, February 20, 2004

wow. I'm home. bit of a culture shock. Last night I tried to make a bunch of Colombian food for G (and me!). Did not meet with total sucess, but I suppose that is to be expected when it's the first time, and I'm sure I'll get better with practice. The coconut rice was tasty though, and the patacon was too, even though it all fell apart... Need to find some white cornflour for arepas, yellow isn't the same... we saw some in the store when we were buying candy, but decided against trying to bring home white powdered stuff on an airplane.....

I think I will probably add some more entries here as time allows to fill out bits and pieces I didn't have time for while logged in from internet cafes, but that will be later. Would be cool to even add pictures, but that would require hosting them somewhere....hrm.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

my last full day here. prrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. I´m really going to miss it, I´ve had so much fun, and really gotten to relax. This morning I had some cooking lessons on how to make a few traditional foods, I´m sure it´s going to take a little experimenting when I get home, but most of them are pretty dang easy, in theory.... fun fun. and fun to try and do the lessons in Spanish, with gestures and interaction, because G had to go to his office and talk with the managers, I guess about his possible future return or not.... Haven´t talked with him yet about it....

ay yi yi.... now to try and find a ride home from the airport.... blech.... I hate this part. And trying to figure out packing, we don´t want to bring the big suitcase back, but won´t have enough room in the little ones for the presents/stuff we bought. It´s not too much, but the little ones were totally full of clothes... le sigh.

Friday, February 13, 2004

Some things that are pretty different than what I´m used to-

- street vendors- almost everything at your fingertips
-juice stands, fruit stands, both mobile and on almost every street corner
- no seat belts in the back seats of cars
- most of the cars are manual
- the taxis have a chirpy sound for horns. Whoever came up with that was brilliant, because they use them all the time, and a loud horn would be too too annoying....
- not really any lines in the roads, and for sure none that people follow. just sorta go where your car/bus/truck fits in...
- photocopier shops EVERYWHERE. Who needs that many photocopies?
- also everywhere - internet/phone cafe´s, liquor shops and tiendas-sort of like gas station stores...
-broken glass and bottles cemented into the tops of walls. Hey, I wouldn´t want to climb over that!
-bar and grates on all the windows and doors. Some of them very pretty and ornamental.
-coconut palms in the front yard (one of his aunts has mangos in her back yard, she made us mango juice - yum!)
-all the doorknobs are wooden... but the middle part for the lock is metal....
- the soap dispensers in the bathrooms- a lot of them are sort of like a glass apple with a little opening on top, and you tip it over towards you to get some soap. pretty cool.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

The parades! We went to the parade called "La Guacherna" on Friday night with G´s friend Luis Javier (AKA "Guri-guri" after some small TV character. He´s short) and his girlfriend Magali. We had gotten wristbands ahead of time that let us into a little set of bleachers "above the madding crowd" We had quite a time actually getting there, the streets were PACKED. There was one place where it looked promising to get through and all the people there raised up their hands & shouted "Nooooooooo!" Anyway, we finally squeezed by & got to our little section. We were sitting next to a bunch of kids who had this spray foam-soap stuff that you spray in the air or on people at things like parades or soccer games. It evaporates fairly quickly if you just use a little, but these kids were really zapping each other, & we got a lot of the extra stuff. Right in the ear, not pleasant. Apparently it´s a huge step up from the cornstarch and flour of the old days.... still exists acutally, but not so much.
When the parade started - I don´t know if it was the full moon, or the fact that it was my first day out after being sick, but when the music started up for the parade & those little kids started dancing - I almost cried a couple of times. They were SO happy and excited, and they could really DANCE! It was such a weird thing - so sensual & fluid - sexy without being sexual. With the little ones that is. The innocence wasn´t so apparent for the other people, but the tiny ones... man. Good stuff. Lots of colors, good beats, and it just went on and on and on! Very very cool. We went to a bar afterwards (included in the price of the wristband) pretty crowded, kinda smokey, and I was getting a bit tired. I wish I´d been up to stay for longer, but my eyes were pretty tired by then. We went out and had french fries, and that was a little less overwhelming. :D yay. fun stuff.

Monday, February 09, 2004

2/8/04 Nana´s (birthday!) The water was warm and shallow, barely ever got up to my waist, and some places were warmer than othes. The beach was a bit dirty, but G said it was actually clean. People don´t have the same respect for not littering here. I was totally shocked after we left the bar, Magali peeled off her entrance bracelet & threw it in the parking lot! Come on, what are pockets for, if you can´t stand to drive home with it on your wrist? It´s just funny to me how utterly oblivious people are to it. I´m having this "Clean up Barranqilla" idea, but maybe more on that later...

So yeah, beach - I guess there isn´t that much more to say. We walked over to some rocks a couple of times. The first time there were lots of little crabs! The second time we kept going past to a rocky little cove. It was really neat to see the layers of sand/rock with different things like shells in the m. On our way back (to the cute little palm frond sun shelters) we saw this weird clear with brown specks ginormous booger thing blarbing in the sand. It probably would have been the size of a lime (big lime, not key lime) if it wasn´t blobbly. We poked at it with a stick a little, and a boy with his windsurp board (what are those called?!) came up and G asked him what it was. He told some story involving perhaps one of them stuck to his chest. ( I gathered this through gestures and a few words I understood) Then he speared it and flung it up to the rocks. So now I´m coming up with all these great stories about giant alien boogers who suckle the life out of you. Apparently it was a kind of jellyfish & the boy had had a run in with one that sent him to the hospital... I think they call them "medusa" although this one didn´t have any tenticles, the name makes sense.

G's grandpa is so funny - Victor (and his dad is Manuel - thus Victor Manuel for his nephew). He´s really old and has a cathetar (sp?). Seems a bit embarassing to have to walk around with a bag of your own pee attached to you, but I guess it´s less embarassing than wetting your pants all the time. Anyway, that´s not why he´s funny. He laughs at everything! When I took off my sunglasses he got all happy and excited and pointed to the blue part of the drink cooler we had on the table. I guess his wife had the same color eyes. He was great - laughing at almost everything - when I was able to say a few words in Spanish, when we had to keep shooing aways the scrawny dogs that lurked around, balls & dugs & all, hoping for a scrap. They really jumped away scared if you raised a hand to them, but they never actually left untll the guy came to take away the plates, & then they followed him!
Everyone was really protective of my skin, making sure I had sunscreen, & hats & shirts to wear while I walked in the sun. The beach was pretty empty... but a few little sunhouses away a family pulled up with an SUV that had HUGE speakers - so music we had- although apparently it wasn´t "poopy". I´ve seen the ads for Hush Puppies & tried on some HP sandals, but they were about $30, and some other ones I liked better $15

from 2/7/04

Yay! We went to the beach! G, me, his parents & grandfather. Madi couldn´t come because Victor Manuel was sick. (apparently with the same thing I had? I didn´t think it was catching - prolly not, just the same symptoms.) Which meant that Paola & Luifer weren´t driving & there wasn´t enough room for anyone else in the car. It´s too bad, because I really like Madi, and it owuld be nice to get to know Paola better... Anyway! We went. The drive was really pretty - mountains, a few trees with flowers along the side of the road. Some of the hottest little tollbooth workers I have ever seen - cheez really, don´t take that the wrong way, it´s just almost comical ot me - usually toll booth workers seem fat or old or tired or something - in disgruntled uniforms or at least a crunkley saftely vest. But these were 2 young pretty girls in sharp little uniforms. It was almost Disney-esque, but not quite so smiley, more official.
When we pulled off the main highway this little guy started running next to our car - apparently telling us we should come to his house, and on the long and rocky drive to the beach it seemed more and more crazy that he would have wanted to run along side us the whole way had we taken hime up on it. But when we pulled onto the beach - ALL these little guys came running up to the car, waving their rags.
Now might be a good time to take a small tangent and explain about the "napkin wavers" - my own term. The self appointed car watchers wave their little (usually red I think) rags to guide people in & out of parking places & supposedly watch your car as well in exchange for a few coins. I´m not sure how much really, but apparently they can get grouchy if don´t pay. It kind of fascinates me, I don´t know how they decide to do it, but the sort of - This is what I do, so pay me for it -that I´m interpreting anyway, seems somehow noble or on the mark. Not that these guys seem to be making much, but I guess it´s enough... They´re still alive! I guess the fruit vendors have it best, at the end of the day if they don´t sell their stuff they can eat it!

(Gilberto just told me today that probably a lot of the young people probably live with their parents, and so they have a roof and food, but whatever they make can go for extra food. That makes me feel a little better, but still....)

Anyway back to the beach. So it seemed like there was a sort of desparation from these guys that I thought was a bit much for a car parker, but the longer we stayed the more I got it - they provide a whole day of service if you want it - chairs and table, hammock, meal, beer & soda - food on nice china, real forks and knives, a bowl of water & a little soap to wash hands & washing the sand off your feet before you put them in the car. The food, plus tip & parking etc. It´s much more than a few coins they are desperate for. (2/8/04 Nana´s birthday!) The water was warm and shallow, barely e ver got up to my waist, and some places were warmer than othes. The beach was a bit dirty, but G said it was actually clean. People don´t have the same respect for not littering here. I was totally shocked after we left the bar, Magali peeled off her entrance bracelet & threw it in the parking lot! Come on, what are pockets for, if you can´t stand to drive home with it on your wrist? It´s just funny to me how utterly oblivious people are to it.

more from 2/5/04

It´s a bit frustrating that the Spanish I have can only take me so far & that there are far many more greetings than ¿como estas?, because that´s the only one I know the answer to. Apparently I look close enough to Colombian that people try to talk to me in Spanish all the time. Good deal. There´s all kinds here - light, dark (skin), blue, brown, green(eyes), straight & curly(hair). Most of the girls are pretty small, & there aren´t too many fat people here, not like the midwest. Quite a few have a little curve or pudge, but it just seems to soften them, not make them fat really.

I think being sick has made me a little more open with trying to speak Spanish with his family. After all, they´ve seen me at my most vunerable, what´s the point of being embarassed for a few words? we´ll see.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

well a good chunk of what was lost was me worrying about money matters back home, so while it was good to vent, not really necessary for all to read it! :D perhaps for the best.

From 2/5/04

Oh lovely day- I'm sick. Well, getting better, but I can tell this is going to be another full day in bed. At least I'm not throwing up anymore, although the smell of cooking makes me naseaus. (sp?) I'm at the frustrating point of being bored and a bit bedsore, but too weak to get up for more thatn a trip to the bathroom, maybe a shower. bummer. Not how I wanted to spend a vacation. His whole family was soooo worried and felt so bad. G keeps asking if I want to do or eat things, but I'm just not ready for much.

One thing I liked about the vendors at the stadium - they all had a special sound/call depending on what they were selling. Beer was obvious "cervezacervezacerveza!!!" The candy guys rattled Chicklets. The guys who had chips and other crispy things had a sort of "cuskcuskcusk" soud they made in from their throats.

Then there are the donkey carts that clop around the streets with the drivers ringing bell and/or rattling off a list of their wares. one guy even has a megaphone "naranjas y piñas y yuca." etc etc. At first it seemed indecipherable, but if I actually listen I can grasp quite a lot.

Friday, February 06, 2004

well $·%&·!!!!!!

I wrote a really nice long post.... and my session expired before I posted. and my hands hurt and I´m pissed. So I´ll try to recreate it later.... sorry guys.....

but I´m better, and having a great time!

Monday, February 02, 2004

The comments should work now!
You can write back to me by clicking on the comment part at the end of the posts!

No time to edit where the little link to comments by haloscan is. Would rather it was at the bottom.

wow, so much happens in just a few days, not sure where to start.

Right now we are in the internet cafe of G´s college. It´s super nice here, really modern and clean. There is quite a range in this city, and everyone keeps asking me if I can see the difference in the neighborhoods/areas of the city, and also my first impressions. I guess the first impressions are that it´s HOT, and the whole attitude here is more casual.

We went to a party 2 nights ago, for just a few minutes, mostly for G to meet up with his best friend Ilsy. She´s super cute! It was some sort of pre-carnival thing, so people had the tradional costumes. It was neat, but pretty crazy and overwhelming. I have a hard time understanding, but this was near to impossible with the volume of the music. I felt so rude, G would turn to me to confirm something, and not only had I not been following the conversation at all, I hadn`t even been trying to pay attention. blah. we only stayed a little while anyway, and we met Ilsy again today at the University, and we´ll see her again, so there´s more time.

His family has been feeding me all sorts of fun and strange new foods. Mostly fruits and breads and juices. Some of the tropical fruits are a bit too weird for me, but I like pretty much all the bread stuff.

Last night we went to a soccer match. 'Pibe' is a super famous player in Colombia and last night was his retirement game. It was his friends from Colombia vs his friends from the world, and ended in a 3-3 tie. Pretty much a friendly match, lots of fun, and you could tell how much everyone really loved him. 60,00+ people in the stadium! woof! totally packed! people were sitting in the aisles. The trademark of Pibe is his blonde 'fro' hairdo, very easy to pick out, even from high up in the stadium! a bunch of the cheerleaders did a bit where they were all wearing blonde curly wigs. fun fun.

today was my first experience on the public bus system. yikes! kind of like being IN Mario Cart or something. The bus driver driving like he was losing a race or something, barely stopping for anything! The busses are all fun and colorful looking, but a bit scary to ride, or cross the street in front of. I can´t believe G had to ride the bus every day to University. I guess you´d get a bit used to it, but still. And I haven´t figured out how you tell them apart as far as routes, ect. they all seem different looking............ ah well. Not like I`m going to ride it alone or anything!