Sunday, February 26, 2006

We do what we can...

I thought I was going to have more time for this blog, but it turns out we were pretty non-stop doing stuff for most of the trip! It was probably really good for me to NOT be online every day! grin. I´m trying to upload at least a few pictures to, but Í´m not sure if it´ll work out, this computer at G´s place is SOOOOOOO slow!!!

If it does work, it should be and when I get home I´ll try to integrate them into the blog directly...

Pretty Beach House

Woke up not feeling too great. Digestive problems… :P Also not looking forward to going back to the cold and a big pile of work. Just have to try to enjoy the time I have left.

We went to a beautiful house on the beach for the afternoon. It was the place where we almost had the wedding but someone got it before us. It was a nice afternoon with the aunts, uncle Negro and a few cousins. There was a beautiful half-round pool, but I didn’t swim, even though the little boys kept asking me to. I was still feeling pretty yuck, so I took a nap.

After my nap, I went down to the beach, with my mom and G and picked up shells. Ran into a cute couple, took their picture. The guy was from the US – Chicago area, had a sister who went to U of I! First person who actually had a good idea of where we were from.

G’s going out with friends tonight, but I’m still not feeling great, so I’m staying home. Gives me a good chance to catch up on the journals. I can’t believe tomorrow is our last real day!

Saturday, February 25, 2006


Gilberto was feeling sick, probably from the oysters at the islands, so he couldn’t come. Made brought us instead. We got there early, and it was already pretty crazy. Some relatives saved us seats on the edge, so at least we have one “safe” side. It was several hours before the parade started, and Collin commented that it was the longest parade he’d never seen.  We heard later that it started later than usual because the queen was at some other parade.

Everybody wanted us to drink whiskey. The guy behind me offered me some, but I indicated that I didn’t have a cup. He gets me a cup, pours a little, puts some ice and offers me Coke to mix it with. I knew I shouldn’t take it, especially the ice but I thought maybe the alcohol in the whiskey would kill anything in the ice… who knows. I didn’t know how to explain I shouldn’t take it, and I didn’t want to put a damper on things. Sanchez ??? had plastic milk cups and kept telling us it was milk, or water, and wanted us to get drunk. We had to at least get the stuff to touch our lips to get him to leave us alone. It looked like his ice was bought, but I’m not sure about the stuff from the guy behind me.

A bunch of people were calling us “Cachacos” – and trying to get us to dance. Pao’s friend Paola tried to explain to them that we were actually Gringos. We didn’t find out till later that Cachaco refers to a person from Bogota – they have lighter skin and turn red when they come to the coast, from sunburn. When I did start dancing the all LOVED it and cheered for me and told all their friends to watch. “Baila, balia! You like Barranquilla!!!”

I have to admit I didn’t really like this parade as much as I liked La Guacherna last time. The floats were cool, but it wasn’t as well organized… big gaps in-between groups or floats. La Guacherna was more about the dancing, which I really like. And the unfortunate thing about the gaps where nothing was going on is that the people around us started spraying “Espuma” this wet foam/soapy type stuff, that more or less evaporates, unless you get creamed with it, in which case you get pretty wet. It tastes nasty, but apparently it’s better than the traditional corn starch and water routine. I saw people walking past us with grocery bags full of little boxes of corn starch, but they didn’t seem to end up sitting near us. Somehow we were “lucky” enough to end up with a group of people who loved this Espuma stuff and bought can after can. *insert rolling eyes here* I guess it’s all part of the fun, but I wasn’t too keen on it. We left before seeing the queen, but I think it was better that way, it would have been really nutso trying to leave with everyone else.

Pao and Luifer came over and hung out a little, we made a slideshow of both mine and Tommy’s carnaval pictures and watched it. After Pao and Luifer left, Collin, Tommy, Gilberto Made and I stayed up late trying tongue twisters in both languages and telling stupid jokes. Collin and I were pretty sunburned, so we put some Burt’s Bees salve on.

I went to bed feeling a bit icky. Had chills, so I put on a sweater and socks. The music across the street was so loud it was a bit hard to sleep, especially since I can’t seem to get myself to NOT move to this music. :P Even though I was desperately tired, my toes kept dancing!

Friday, February 24, 2006

Random notes for later.

five minutes left at internet cafe. Posting my notes for my future reference, and in case anyone wants to have fun figuring them out. will expand later!

Sunday: Getting hair done in the morning by gay guy in the house, makeup – SHAVED MY EYEBROWS – just a little, but yikes! Ended up looking rather Colombian Carnival dancer type makeup and hair. Thank goodness it was the second wedding and I was willing to go with whatever. :D It was pretty, but it wouldn’t have been my first choice… :D Can’t eat lunch because slightly nervous and don’t want to mess up the lipstick.

Drive with family and Dad to the castle, get whisked off to put on my veil and tiara, end up standing by the cake for quite a while. All the girl cousins come over and each gets a gerbera with pretty white ribbon streaming down. Not sure what’s supposed to happen, but sorta go with the flow. Service and mass a lot the same.

BEAUTIFUL decorations, flowers everywhere, a bow on every chair. Cake, champagne by guys in white gloves, videographer, photographer, photo for the newspaper! Dancing, our slide show – a ???? band! Lots of dancing. Sunset over the ocean.

Monday: Go to Cartagena after lunch. Check into same hotel as last time. Balcony room. Night on the town – huge sandwich! Tasty pasta, fruit juice. Carriage ride. Bought the shaker thing. Peruvian hippies – drum and digeridoo at the same time. Walked into Hotel Santa Clara?? Pretty. Crypt, nuns, girl with LONG hair.

Tuesday: Island! Swim, tour – manglar trees, little town. Pollo sin pluma blue crab.

Wednesday: Coconut drink – cut down just for me! In the pool. Aquarium, Isla de Berut, too many vendadores.

Thursday: Change money again, go buy souvenirs. Vegetarian restaurant lunch. Watched LOST. Went to visit Ilsy and baby. Watched beginning of Indigo, out to dinner at family’s Arabian restaurant. Come home hang out with the fams, Collin bought new clothes.

Friday: We were invited out to lunch with some relatives, to a really nice Italian restaurant. Went to visit Tia Jolanda(sp?) and then the family of the cousin who died – AMAZING house. Gardens inside. Tons of rooms.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

To Barranquilla

We had to get up way early to go to the airport, which unfortunately meant we had to miss the included breakfast.

Our cab driver Leonardo was very nice. He has a with daughter in Santa Monica, and he spoke a little English. He would tell us things in both languages, it was much more fun and easy going than the way to the hotel the night before. Maybe also a little easier since we were more rested...

The flight was late, but of course we had no idea what was going on, so I sat there getting cold and hungry and desparately hoping I hadn't missed the announcement to get on the plane. Bogota is in the mountains, and much colder than Barranquilla, but I didn't know that, and had dressed for the coast. Lucky for me mom had her coat still in her carry-on.

The flight attendants had Carnaval aprons, and the inflight magazine had a Carnaval article. I was able to read a little bit of it. It might just be me, but it seems like it's gotten a bit more tourist centered in the past two years. Maybe sometime soon they'll have better explainations in English of all of the history and significance of the different characters and traditions.

It seemed like forever for our bags to come once we got to Barranquilla. I kept trying to see if G was outside waiting, but it wasn't until we actually got our bags and started going out that I saw him, with a nice haircut! He and his dad were both there. It was such a relief to see them both.

G's mom made us breakfast, and it was nice to see that my arepas (cornmeal cakes) aren't as far off as I thought. I think Collin was really happy to see us, he'd slept for most of 2 of the three days he'd been there already.

A family friend they call "Pochi" came by to do everyone's nails. She had a whole arsenal of tools for picking and poking at my fingers and toes. I was a little nervous because of all the things I've read where they say not to let people cut the cuticles because of risk of infection, not to mention it hurt! :( She seemed to know what she was doing though. I would have liked to get french tips, but my nails were too short since I was keeping them short for playing guitar, so I just went for white.

Pedicure, originally uploaded by Heather and Gilberto.

Marta is on the left, working on the masks.

G's family found a guitar for me to play, but it's horridly out of tune, and I'm no good at tuning by ear. Sigh.

It was nice to catch up with with G's fam, and see the new baby Julian David! What a cutie, with crazy hair that's always sticking up!

I had to keep reminding myself that the party was the very next day! G's mom and some of the other girls were making dozens of pretty little masks for people to wear at the party, since it was so close to carnaval time. yay!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

First Night - Bogota

First night in Bogota was fine, although we couldn’t change Visa traveler checks in the airport, which was pretty much the only thing my mom had, besides about $60 in cash… I cashed enough for both of us though, and the little taxi guy had a nice printed out sign with my mom’s name on it, so that was easy. There were a bunch of other taxi guys, who would hold up a mini yellow plastic license plate type sign that said “TAXI” in the outside window when they could see you were changing money. It’s too bad, because I’m sure some of them are just trying to earn some cash, but I wonder who uses them?

Anyway, it was a little frustrating in the cab ride, I THINK our driver was trying to ask when our flight left in the morning, and I couldn’t figure out how to explain that the flight left at 7:30, and we needed to leave the hotel in time to get to the airport by 6:30, and he didn’t speak any English. :P Of course I thought of something I could have said like 5 or 10 minutes later, but I was way too shy to just bust out with it in the middle of nothing. Sigh. But I WAS able to communicate quite a lot.

The hotel was really nice, we got there and both the bellhop and the concierge (I think) came out to greet us and take our bags. We were a bit confused about when to pay the driver, because apparently we could roll the taxi price into the hotel bill, and they would pay him! Nice, because we didn’t have much cash. We asked the desk clerk if he spoke English, and he said, “Yes.” With full confidence, and my mom and I broke into nervous, relieved laughter. After the experience in the taxi, we weren’t sure how we’d do trying to get our hotel room.

Luckily Gilberto called the hotel just as we were in the process of checking in, so I was able to ask him some stuff, like about how much to tip and all, and it also meant I didn’t have to try and figure out the phones to let him know we were there! It was kind of weird though, the desk clerk took the phone from one of his co-workers and then handed it to us – “It’s for you.” Was this part of the check in process?? Nope, just good timing!

The hotel room was pretty nice, 2 double beds and a cot. Had Night Cafe and Irises on the walls, and one other painting I didn’t recognize, but seemed to be an Impressionist type one. (that’s what I get working for an art company, I always pay attention to hotel art now. :D ) Had a fax machine and stereo - I think it was considered an “executive” room. The bathroom was all marble and stone, and had a bathtub! Hooray! I took a little bath, which was nice to relax after all the stress of the traveling. It was rather late, we weren’t super hungry and it was too intimidating to try and find food to eat, so we just pooled together our airplane snacks and had a few of the pistachios I brought as a present to his mom. I bought $15 worth, so there were a few to spare. :D

This is pretty much how I felt by the end of the day...

Friday, February 17, 2006

Travel Day

Atlanta Airport
We’re about to board the flight to Bogota. I’m starting to get nervous. It’ll be fine though. I understood most of what the front desk guy was saying… of course he said it all in English first.. :P

It was amazing the start of the transition from known to unknown, as soon as we got on the escalator to the international terminal, I started hearing different languages. Always a little disorienting. But English is still primary.

They’re boarding…

On the plane
Turns out Jeffrey and Andrea Smith were on the same flight to Atlanta, and they had the about the same length of layover, so we had lunch together, and played some fun little word games – Jeffrey called it Fictionary, the precursor to Balderdash I suppose.  I had my Spanish-English dictionary to try and look up some weird words to use, but most of the word were easy ones, that a person would actually use, heh heh. Oh well.

The meal on the plane was really nice! Spinach ravioli with a creamy sun-dried tomato sauce and pine nuts. :O Tiny salad, bread roll, cheese and crackers and a brownie. Thank goodness they figured out that just because some one is vegetarian it doesn’t mean they only eat twigs and leaves.

I’m so bummed, they just changed the in-flight movie to The Legend of Zorro yesterday! When G and Collin came they got to see Walk the Line, which G told me “is a really good movie, you’ll really like it! We should get it on video!” Great. I was the one who really wanted to see it when it came to Fairfield, and he wanted to see Fun with Dick and Jane instead. Woof. I didn’t really like this Zorro movie in the theatres, it’s more cheesy than the last one, which I did like… :P I listened to it in Spanish for a while, so I guess it wasn’t a total loss, but I got bored of it already. Listened to one of my Spanish lessons on my iPod instead, now I’m listening to my Juanes/Shakira mix  I love noticing how many more words I understand now. It’s my only real measure of progress, since I’m not taking any class with grades or anything.

Both flights so far we’ve been on the back of the plane, unable to recline, boo. Luckily with some nice seat shuffling (so a few different people could sit next to their traveling companions), my mom and I are sharing a whole row, so we’re able to spread out a little bit.

Turbulence. Suck.

I’ve been reading “The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill”. Neat book. I liked the documentary, and this just expands on it. What a guy you know? Who just stuck to his path, trusted and really was provided for! Pretty amazing. And I love hearing about his different relationships with the different birds, and all their unique personalities. Animals are really so amazing, I miss having a pet. I’ve had several birds before, but it was also always so heart-wrenching when they died! They just aren’t meant to live as long as we do, and I go so attached… Ah well. Sometime again, I’m sure.

I’m really looking forward to the “interaction between the moms” when my mom and Gilberto’s mom try to talk to each other. They have a lot of similar qualities! Collin and G both laughed when I mentioned it on the phone to them the other night. Collin says being there is kind of like being IN Telemundo, one big soap opera in Spanish all the time. Heh heh. I’m sure it’s a bit more active and crazy there than normal because everyone is coming by to see G, but it probably really does feel like that for him.

Whoa. It’s really nice to just get to write and write for me, with no deadline, and no needing to go to bed or anything. I sort of forgot how much I used to do and like just writing, just because. Very therapeutic.

I should fill out my customs form. G said it was going to be all in Spanish, but he’s a liar!!! They have English versions - ha ha! Take that!

The Trip Has Officially Begun...

We made it to the airport, despite a scare of super icy Pleasant Plain roads. We had to go 35mph, and thought for sure we wouldn't make it in time. But once we got to Brighton it was smooth sailing. Phew.

The next big adventure will be getting through customs in Colombia and then to the hotel in Bogota. We have to say overnight there because we couldn't get a direct flight to B'quilla. boo. Tomorrow morning G will pick us up in Barranquilla, and then everything will be easy! His dad reserved us a taxi at the airport, so with all luck, we'll be guided through the whole process easily. At worst, I'll get to practice my Spanish, heh heh. Here's where I'm actually thankful that all the lessons I listened to were about going to hotels and such. And here I wanted to learn things for meaningful conversations! The lessons knew what I needed all along... sigh.

The plane is here, so I better get packed up.

Feel free to leave comments in the comment box, and share this blog with anyone who might be interested!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

A New Look for a New Trip

Trying out some updates to the site in preparation for the trip. I want everything to be all shiny and new, but I'm terrible at html... sigh. I'll come up with something.