Sunday, March 30, 2008

Chiva! (Big Fat Party Bus)

Uh, that's my translation, not necessarily the literal one. :)

Me with the Chiva

What an adventure last night - we got seats on a Chiva - which is basically a big party bus with a little live 3 or 4 piece band, that drives from bar to bar and lets everyone off to dance for an hour or so and then move on to the next place. We went to 4 bars in one night, and thank they lord they weren't smokey, and two of them were right on the beach!

I Freaking Love This Picture

We also took A LOT of pictures, if you go to my flickr set you can see that I was pretty insanely happy for most of the night. And that's with only one sip of rum, just to see what it tasted like (pretty much like all alcohol tastes to me - like burning! :D ).

Last Time Getting On the Chiva

Part of the deal was, beer on the first stop, rum on the second, little empanada snacks on the third, and at the end of the last stop there was a little dinner of steak, potatoes and salad (I think my ticket was cheaper because I only ate the cheese empanada things)

Final Bar, on the Beach

Yeah, I'm not really ready to go home yet.

Earlier in the day I was standing next to a stand full of traditional Colombian sweets, and G's mom and her cousin were "arguing" about which were the best ones to get for another cousin who is going back to his house in the states, and how much of each, and Vivi (the daughter of the cousin) was buying sweets too and asked me if I wanted anything. I grinned and pointed to the big coconut clusters I had my eye on (and had been ready to buy one myself after the other transactions were finished). G's mom asked why I hadn't asked for one before and Vivi said something about how I was her buddy and gave me a big kiss on the cheek. And I stood there with the sweet taste of coconut on my tongue, feeling welcomed and taken care of, drinking in the tropical colors and trees, listening to the "Negra" (it's not an insult here, it's even a term of endearment. They also call people "Gordo" (fat) affectionately.) packing up the sweets saying things like "Honey, help me out with this. Sister, hold this for me."


Then a little band set up on the corner and started to play, and as their harmonies melted together my full heart spilled over the brim and I almost, almost cried for the sadness of leaving this place, these people in just a few days.

It doesn't seem fair that it's so far away, and that even if I had the money to come here often, that traveling puts such a strain on the planet.

And lest any of you fear of my staying here forever, I'm quite clear that I've been on vacation, and if I DID want to stay long term I'd have to get a job and that would change the dynamic completely. The time off has done me good though. A few people have even commented that it looks like I've lost weight. I don't have a scale, and my clothes don't feel all that different that I notice, but it seems like I've been eating less, so I guess I'll find out when I get home. But it makes sense that it could be something, because an emotional weight has been lifted off my shoulders for these two months, and I haven't been doing the stress eating I used to do in the office. I hope that some of the things I've learned about how to relax and take it easy will stay with me when I go home, because I've been so happy here.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


A beautiful and coquettish traditional Colombian dance demonstration that was part of an evening of music and videos about traditional music and dance from various regions. This was just one couple, apparently during the Bambucos festival there are tons of gorgeous dresses and everyone dances barefoot and it's spectacular! (That seems to be a favorite adjective around here.)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Sunset, Santa Marta

Holy Week is a BIG BIG deal in this very Catholic country. A lot of people get the whole week off work. Pretty much everyone gets at least Thursday through Monday. (I think...) It has all been one big vacation for me, so I didn't notice too much of a change in my daily schedule, except we went out to the beach a couple times.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

In Which I Prepare Lunch

To preface, I have barely lifted a finger to cook my whole two months here. They have a cousin who comes to help cook and clean about 3 times per week, and I think also G's mom likes to make me food, it's like, fulfilling her purpose or something. Because I've made myself some pasta with ketchup about 2 or 3 times when they were out late and I was hungry, but the last time I was starting the water to boil and they came home and she was like "oh, no no, I bought stuff to make little pizzas, please, let me serve you!" I think especially since her youngest just moved out a few weeks ago she really does like to take care of me.

Sometime last week, G's dad declared that I would cook breakfast, lunch and dinner for the final two days of my stay, that his sister would come for lunch, and that I should prepare a list so we can go grocery shopping the weekend before. I told them I knew how to cook many things, but I was afraid they wouldn't like them. They said not to worry, they would eat anything and it didn't matter if there wasn't any meat, they would be fine. So I agreed, and we went on to have a discussion about the differences in breakfast foods between here and the US. (US tends to favor sweet flavors for the mornings) But it turns out I ended up cooking lunch today.

The story really begins early last evening.

VM, my nephew, was warming up some food in the microwave for the cranky parrot. Unfortunately he miscalculated the time or pressed the wrong buttons or something because it was for way too long and the little plastic food dish and all its contents got seriously shriveled up and the whole apartment smelled horrible. (and the kitchen continued to smell bad even into the morning).

G's mom is pretty allergic to lots of things and very sensitive, not to mention she was the one in the kitchen scrubbing the microwave trying to clean out the smell. Her eyes and nose got really irritated and she was sneezing most of the night. She took an allergy pill but it didn't help. (I'm not really surprised since I think it was more of a chemical irritant than allergic one).

We all woke up pretty late this morning and the poor dear was still feeling pretty wretched and stumbled to the kitchen to make breakfast, but was really only able to prepare coffee with milk and came to my room to apologize that it was just going to be bread and butter for breakfast, even though she had wanted to make other things, and we could try to have an early lunch. I told her not to worry and she went to lie down. After I ate my bread and butter I went to her room and told her that if she needed any help with the food to tell me, and she said that a little later we could see what was left in the kitchen because there wasn't too much.

So after a bit she got up and showed me that there was pasta and a mix to make cream sauce and there was a little bag of mixed asian veggies plus fresh ones and some frozen beans in the freezer. So I made pasta with cream sauce and a few veggies, some other veggies and white beans, and I made some little triangle toast type things out of a flat bread they had that I fried in a little olive oil with garlic powder and salt. I also mixed up a pitcher of raspberry juice out of a bag of frozen pulp and added some sugar.

G's dad came in once to check on me and said it smelled good, and helped me find some lids to the pots. The water didn't really ever get to that rolling boil I'm used to for the pasta unless I kept it covered, so it was actually the last thing I finished, and I set the table while it was cooking, remembering the napkins, (which is kind of a running joke because they ALWAYS forget the napkins) and then served up three plates and said "Listo!" (ready)

G's dad said something about how now they get to see how I cook, and I said I was nervous. But it turned out they liked it! G's mom loved the little breads and wanted me to teach her how to make them. I told her it was super easy, and then how to do it. G's dad declared that next week when I cooked for the they would also invite his sister AND his dad, who would be so amazed that the entire meal didn't have any meat. Then he went on to ask his wife if maybe they should even invite her cousin who they hang out with all the time, and I think also his daughter and her family for the weekend. He asked if I knew how to make soups and when I said yes he said he imagined that G liked them. He also teased that perhaps he would lock me in my room so they could keep me and I should tell G to come here instead, and wasn't it such a pleasant surprise that I knew how to cook. G's mom said she already knew because G and I had made something nice the last time we came, and she asked if anyone wanted the last piece of toast.

She also tried to do the dishes but I wouldn't let her, although I did let her put away the clean ones since I didn't know where they went. She thanked me again, said again that it was really tasty and went to lie down. So I hope she got to have some good rest.

Oh, also, the cranky parrot liked the pasta. He seems to eat anything, but he really likes mango peels and scrambled eggs. He was eyeing me rather woefully as I put the leftover pasta in the fridge, so I gave him a few strands and he started gobbling. I also broke up a saltine and put it in the dish, but he yanked out a couple of the bits that were covering up the pasta and tossed them on the floor like "Screw the crackers! More pasta!" so I got him big forkful and tore it up into smaller strands for easier eating.

All in all I think it was a very successful meal! Now I need to figure out a few menu options for next week, in case I can't find some of the ingredients for the dishes I'm thinking of preparing.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Water in Bags, Gloves on Hands

Water in a Bag

Some of the stuff we don't have back at home doesn't really surprise me too much - like the fruit stands and street vendors. Some stuff though, I never would have thought of, like all the things they sell in bags - water, milk, jam, ketchup, mayo, soda. Sometimes it's like - "I'll have a liter of soda/juice in a big plastic bag please!" and they fill up a bag like you'd use at the grocery store for veggies or bulk items, tie a knot in the top and there you go, empty it into a pitcher when you get home!

And then last night, we went to quite possibly the best restaurant EVER. Well, best in terms of my amusement value. We were driving home from visiting some friends of the family and G's mom asked me what I wanted to eat for dinner. I said, as I do at home quite often when asked the same question, "food". She laughed and started listing off different options. I jumped on "potatoes" because they were something I hadn't had in a while, and she said something about "oh wait, darn, we don't have (something something)" and I said, "french fries?" (something I hadn't had since I've been here) and at that moment we were driving by a little fast food chicken place called something like Pikoriko.

G's mom dashed into the grocery store across the street while his dad and nephew VM and I went in. It was very similar to a McD's or any other fast food place, plastic seating, tile floors, white walls with huge pictures of menu items, and a little net covered play place for kids with a bunch of climbing tubes and a ball pit. VM immediately started playing on the play thing, and we sat down and a girl came and brought us menus, which was so weird to me in a fast food place. And then my Father in Law asks what they have that's vegetarian and the girl is like, uhhh, nothing? (Which doesn't surprise me) But we find the french fries and order some of those. It seems like maybe they fry each batch to order, because it takes a while, and they come on a REAL ceramic plate with the little chicken logo, not paper!

Then G's mom comes and they order their chicken and some plantain thing for me, and some juice for me and soda for them. VM, busy "dunking" the plastic balls in the basketball hoop in the playplace says he doesn't want anything. Then the chicken comes and the girl says they don't have any of the plantain things, so they order me another plate of fries, and VM comes and starts eating mine and so they order ANOTHER plate of fries and I have some of his when they come. (Also F-I-L steals some of the fries from the first plate, which I wouldn't mind except it's my ENTIRE DINNER but luckily with the 3 plates, I had plenty so I needn't have worried.)

But anyway when they girl brings out the chicken, it comes with PLASTIC GLOVES that they put on to eat it! (like the kind I'm used to seeing food service people use to make your food) And that cracked me up SO HARD. I only laughed a little on the outside and I told them I'd never seen anything like it but I was silently lauging inside for like 10 minutes at least, every time I saw the ceramic plates and the plastic gloves. Now honestly, as a vegetarian, this could be something that they do all the time in the states and I just don't know, but I DID ask at least one non-veg friend and she said that whenever she goes out for messy chicken they just bring out a bucket of napkins. I guess it's a bit more more efficient in a way, one pair of gloves vs. tons of napkins? But it looks darn silly. :-D

And they do seem to use paper napkins a lot for other things - like to hold their sandwiches or pizza or little fried things. Sort of preventative to getting your hands dirty? I'm used to getting the hands dirty and then using the napkin AFTER to clean them, and having the napkin wrapped around whatever I'm trying to eat seems like an invitation to a mouthful of paper. But maybe that's just cuz I haven't learned how to maneuver it properly.

Going to the beach again today! Although I'm a wee bit confused because I thought they said we were leaving around 8:30 or 9, but it's 9 right now and G's mom just got up and is cooking something, possibly breakfast, possibly my lunch. Everyone else gets fish on the beach, but after my bad experience with probably the beach salad the last time I came here, that doesn't leave me with much to eat, so when we went out on Wednesday she made me pasta and fried up some deditos. (Deditos = "little fingers" =mini croissant type things with cheese inside). I probably woke up around 7:30 and didn't hear anyone out and about so I stayed in bed until I started freaking out because I don't have a clock in my room, and a little after 8 I got up and checked some emails, accepted a few new MySpace friends and started this blog at about 8:30.

Anyway, my beach bag is mostly still packed from Wednesday, so I don't have much to do, but I think I will go take a quick shower so my skin starts off clean before all the sunscreen I'm going to be slathering on it...


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Barranquilla and the Iowa State Fair Need to Be Friends

I think the two of them would have a really great recipe exchange of greasy fried inventions.

Fried Plantain with the Works Click the picture to see it bigger.

This was a whole plantain smashed flat and fried, topped with tomato, onion, cheese, mayo, some sort of pink sauce and finished off with crushed potato chips. Dang was it tasty. Can't be good for you. And luckily I was sleeping alone, cuz that was a LOT of onions.

The drink behind it is a soda they call Kola. It's red and VERY VERY sweet... I personally found it a bit amusing that G's dad warned me not to eat too many fresh pineapple chunks because they were so sweet, when they drink this stuff almost every day. We also have fresh fruit juice pretty much every day at lunch - the fruit chunks are blended with water and sugar to taste. So it seems like the plain fresh fruit would be the most healthy, but whatevers!

Last night we went out for another fast food dish that I think could go over well at the State Fair, if they don't have something like it already. It's called mazorca desgranada and it's basically corn OFF the cob on a little plate and then it's topped with tasty things - mine had mayo, cheese and crushed potato chips. They seem to like to put crushed potato chips on everything here, they do it for hot dogs too. I tried to get juice, but they were out of juice. So then I tried to get orange soda but they were out of orange soda. All they had was Kola.

(Anyone heard Weird Al's song Albuquerque? (the part I'm talking about is about 5 minutes in, and if you're not a fan of dumb cartoon violence, skip it! hehe)
I said "You got any cinnamon rolls?"
He said "No, we're outta cinnamon rolls"
I said "You got any apple fritters?"
He said "No, we're outta apple fritters"
I said "You got any bear claws?"
He said "Wait a minute, I'll go check"
"No, we're outta bear claws"
I said "Well, in that case - in that case, what do you have?"
He says "All I got right now is this box of one dozen starving, crazed weasels"
I said "OK, I'll take that")

I'm thinkin' Barranquilla might dig walking tacos... (and I think it would be easy for a veg like me to substitute beans for the ground beef)

After dinner we took a walk around the park across the street. Funny I'd been here a month and a half and never gone and then two nights in a row I take a walk around the park. I'd gone the night before with G's aunt. She took me out to eat another tasty fried thing - I think it was called maribuñuelo? but in any case it was a buñuelo that I think was made with yucca and had cheese inside. Washed down with Kola of course. :-) (I just did a quick Google search and didn't fine maribuñuelo, but it appears that in much of the rest of the Spanish speaking world buñuelos are sweet - like donuts... there's that donut connection again...)

I need to load up some pictures of the baby shower from Saturday. More soon! I can't believe I only have 2 weeks left here!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Son Diferentes!

(Just realizing a few things might not be clear- Both G's sister and his mom are named Madeline (well I think technically one is Madelina and the other Madeline), but they are both Made for short and in this post I'm referring to his mom. Paola or Pao is his other sister, and Luifer is short for Luis Fernando, her husband)

Last night I packed up all my paper crafting supplies and lugged them up the 5 flights to Paola's apartment. (That makes it sound like she's in the same building... we drove there first!) We made lots of little things for Lucy's baby shower, cutting out these sweet little poem things with my fancy edged scissors and punching out shapes in the scrap paper for confetti. We also made little stand up gift tag sized cards with embossed baby stamps to scatter around the tables for decoration. We also tied pink and purple bows on to diaper pins. We were able to do all this because V's room was open for Made and Manuel to watch Pura Sangre, their favorite telenovella. I learned fairly early on that no matter where we are or who we are visiting, we have to leave at about quarter to nine so we can get back in time for it! Poor Manuel was starting to look fairly miserable at about ten minutes to nine, as I'm sure he didn't want to interrupt but really wanted to see his show, and his daughter had to convince him that no, REALLY, he would NOT be kicking his grandson out of his bedroom, the boys actually DO all sleep in the same room at night because it's the one with the air conditioning. So that bought us a whole hour more to craft. :-)

Luifer made us little personal pizzas for dinner. Made had made me a little personal pizza the night before. So of course Luifer several times tried to get me to tell him: "Which one is better!!???" To which I always tactfully replied, "Son diferentes!" (They're different!) Both had onions, tomato and cheese. His had more tomato sauce, green peppers and it was on white bread, and Made's didn't really have sauce at all I think, and it had zucchini and stuff. Both were tasty! It was also the 4th time in 5 days I'd had pizza! We went out with the kids on Saturday, on Sunday there was a mix-up with our order of vegetable rice that we brought to the beach house - it turned out to be chicken - so I had a granola bar at the moment and then we stopped for pizza on the way home. Monday night wasn't pizza but then Tuesday and Wednesday were. Whoo hoo! Good thing I LOVE pizza!

So crafting and pizza, it was a fun night. Then to top it all off, I had a big breakthrough Skype (instant messenger) conversation about Spanish with G when I got home, which I will share with you below. The lessons he's referring to are is my Rocket Spanish grammar book that I finally printed out, after years of only ever listening to the mp3's.

G: have you studied from the lessons?

h: yep I did a few today

G: oh nice

h: it's really helpful

G: cool
G: learning a lot?

h: I told my mom that I recommended she read it around the same time as doing the lessons
h: because I think it would have helped me more

G: ah

h: it's ok, I wouldn't have known

G: yeah

h: and now it's kind of just re-enforcing things that I've learned here in the past weeks

G: that's true

h: that now when I read "this is a word they use all the time in Spanish"

G: ohh right

h: I am able to say "oh yeah, that's right, I DO hear it all the time"

G: recognize words

h: whereas if I'd done it before coming here, I would think "what? I've never heard that word before! You must be joking!"

G: oooff

h: and it's also repeating a few times how one shouldn't expect that there would be a word for word translation of everything.

G: oh yeah

h: which I'm finally starting to understand that concept on more than just an intellectual level
h: it was a pretty hard one for me to accept!!!

G: somethings cant be translated
G: oooff

h: although I think I knew it intuitively a little somehow
h: that there was something "different" about Spanish besides just the words
h: more about the way the ideas are used

G: huh

h: I'm still kind of figuring it out...

G: yeah, by being there

h: but now that I know it's true I think I can accept and absorb it better

G: helps to understand that

h: rather than resist it and keep searching for the exact translation'

G: por fin!! (finally)

h: because I think before I thought that the reason i didn't understand was because I didn't have the vocabulary

G: haha

h: but now I'm seeing that I was resisting the "meaning", or trying to understand why the literal translation was so "strange"

G: yeah

h: like, hrmm... trying to think of an example...
h: like, everything here is "que lindo!!"

G: yeah

h: which is like, "how pretty" literally, right?

G: yup

h: but it's used for EVERYTHING

G: yeap

h: and I wouldn't use that in English all the time

G: in a sarcastic way too

h: sure
h: or like, here, it's seems that people use "suavecito" when food is really tasty.
h: which is like "smooth" right?

G: yup

h: and I would NEVER say in English "man, this pizza crust is soooo smooth!"
h: that would sound so strange!

G: hahaha

h: so anyway that concept of learning the meaning, rather than the translation is a really good one to comprehend

G: yeah, and you gain that in full immersion

h: right
h: and I've been beating myself up because I understand the meanings of things, but I can't translate, and I can't USE the words myself. but now I'm thinking that understanding the meaning is just an important first step

G: yup
G: very good
G: like "me voy"
(I go/I'm going, but no necessarily right at this moment)

h: big breakthrough (whew)

G: (applause)

I also had a conversation with G's mom, while doing the above mentioned lessons, about how words are different in different countries or even regions of the same country. I was saying how my mom and I have the same problem, where we listened to the mp3 lessons and thought, "ok, I've GOT THIS! I'm so ready to go to a Spanish speaking country!" But then, right away in the first conversations you have, they say (in Spanish of course) "What's up?" or "What's been happening?" or any other of 5 or more greetings I don't understand, instead of the "How are you?" that we learned from the lesson. I've learned that smiling and saying "Bien" is pretty much always an appropriate response. :-D Made told me that there's a different word for "boy" in lots of countries, I explained to her about the whole "pop/soda/coke" thing, and how if I tell the cashier I don't want a "bag" they put my groceries in a plastic bag, but if I tell them I don't want a "sack" they give my one box of cereal to me un-bagged. And the British/US differences: boot/trunk, jumper/sweater.

It's a lot to take in, but I think it's going to make the learning a little easier!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Have Washing Machine, Will Travel

In the last few years a plethora of mototaxis has exploded onto the traffic scene here in Barranquilla, because I sure don't remember them the first time I came.
Moto Taxi
Look closely, there are three people on that bike - there's a kid in the middle.

They are kind of maniacs on the streets - people already don't really follow the traffic rules and the motos zip in and out of the cars, regular and pickup truck taxis and the kings of the road, the busses. Besides people, they also transport all sorts of stuff, tires, groceries and huge stacked and bungee-corded crates of lord knows what. A couple nights ago I saw pizza delivery motos with a big metal hot box permanently attached to the back for carrying the pizza boxes. A day or two before that I saw one with what looked like a washing machine strapped to the back.

Yesterday I found out that it WAS in all likelihood, indeed a washing machine.

I've been doing an exchange a few times a week with Mirna, a sweet lady who is studying for her TOEFL test and can't afford English lessons, but heard about me through one of her friend's who is an English professor at Universidad Del Norte. It's been good because it's just one on one, and she's been helping me with the basic stuff that I need to fill in the blanks between what I learned before I came and the advanced intermediate stuff they were teaching during my immersion course. Yesterday we were talking about cultural differences between here and the US. She's a nurse and a teacher, and she has been to Atlanta before, hoping to get a job but didn't pass the TOEFL the first time. She's really intrigued by the whole idea of freelance and working from home, and wants to know why there were so many nail salons and why they are staffed by Korean men. Here there are much fewer and it's all Colombian women. They even come to your house so you don't have to out.

There's actually quite a lot here you can call into your house, including laundry machines! You can rent one for a few hours, or a whole day, depending on how much laundry you have to do. And they bring them to you on the back of a mototaxi! Apparently it's a very good business, as they don't really have laundromats here! And I guess the mototaxis are helping reduce the carbon footprint a bit, as does sharing a washing machine. Still blows my mind though.

If there's a Korean nail salon in every strip mall in Atlanta, there's someone on every corner and at every stoplight in Barranquilla trying to sell phone cards. Most people, if not all, have more of a pay-as-you-go format for the phones as opposed to a monthly plan. I think some of those places might also offer by-the-minute use of a phone to call pretty much anywhere, but not entirely sure about that.

The other thing on pretty much every corner and plenty of places in-between are little fruit stands. They maybe have a few different kinds of fruit, or some of them make fresh juice. I don't really understand though, how they make a living. It looks like a lot of sitting around in the shade, which is great, but even the one guy who was really pushy and came right up to our car window sold us a huge bunch of little bananas for about $1! I guess at the end of the day they've got their fruit to eat, and if they were able to sell enough to buy some rice or beans to supplement the fruit they are probably doing ok food-wise at least.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Wow, That Went By Fast...

So my official immersion course at the University over. The three weeks sure went by fast!
Profesoras y Companeros

On our last day we had a couple hours of grammar-ish type things and then we had a little celebration where they gave us certificates of completion and crepes with ice cream inside.
Crepes con Helado

And then we went to the zoo.

It feels a little like I'm 6 years old or something. Which is maybe appropriate considering the level at which I can speak by now. But with a bit of a sophisticated, grown-up twist. Kind of like ice cream crepes.

I've still got about 3 weeks real life immersion on my Grand Colombia Adventure left though. Time to practice, read, relax, maybe see a few city sights or even another city? Who knows? Calling it an Adventure is maybe not quite the right label, because I'm pretty content to just take it easy, mellow out and rest up for whatever awaits me when I go home. And mellow is something they know how to do well here!

Yesterday we took Made to the airport. Having her gone also means I'm more on my own for speaking, which is good for learning. (She speaks English very well and helped us out several times for translating things.) In any case she made it safe to Medallin and is doing well. The airport scene was emotional though, everyone cried, including me.

And her parents have been a bit weepy off and on for the past few days. I guess I'm softening the blow of the empty nest syndrome, but that also means it's going to be really hard for them when *I* leave. eeps.

That's far enough away that I haven't given it serious thought, what I'm going to do when I go home. The worst of winter should be over by then, although April has been know to have a freak snowstorm or two in the past. I don't have that utter dread I had last time I was here in November and I knew I was going back to work. I do have an at least part-time thing to do when I get back, and I'm thinking if I can handle it financially I'd like to keep it that way, because there are lots of other things I'd love to do, like volunteer a little for the radio station, and also for the community garden where we've been getting our vegetables for the past couple years. And if I do the gardening thing, we won't have to pay cash for the veggies, which would be great. I also want to get more involved in music - creating it, improving my skills - vocal, compositional and playing, promoting and supporting independents, etc. And I'll need to keep up with my Spanish so I don't lose it. That's a pretty full life right there!

I've also been instructed by most of my relatives here to produce a baby granddaughter with blue eyes. Bit of a tall, though not impossible, order methinks. My other sister-in-law's husband tells me (with a twinkle in his eye) that the correct answer to the people who say things like that is "We're working REALLY hard on that." They've already done their grandchildren-ly duty with three beautiful little brown-eyed boys, thus the pressure is on me for a blue-eyed girl. I can't remember the whole genetics thing, but G's mom's side has a bunch of blue and green-eyed Scottish Campbell blood, so I think it might be possible. heh heh.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Driving through El Centro

El Centro is the historic center of Barranquilla. Once beautiful and elegant, it's now overrun with vendors, but apparently you can get pretty much anything you want for very cheap! There are lots of plans in the works for restoring the district to more of its original beauty. You can hear my teacher in the background explaining things to us as we go.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Another Mini City Tour

Fishing on the River
Originally uploaded by hum97

On Friday we had another mini city tour, this time with our culture teacher. (Last week was with the grammar teacher) First we went to an area of Barranquilla called Las Flores, lots and lots of little fish restaurants since it's right on the river. It was EXTREMELY windy. I had an blended iced lemonade, which I promptly spilled down my front when I tipped the cup towards me while using the straw. I hate that :P But I seem to do it often. Which is why, much as I hate to use the plastic, I generally try to get a top for things whenever possible...

Administracion de la Aduana
Originally uploaded by hum97

Next we stopped by La Aduana - the old Customs building. It's a beautiful place that now has a big library, a little art gallery (that had an exhibit of abstracted Carnaval themes, I wish now I'd taken some pictures...) and also lots of offices. Next to La Aduana is a the first train station in Colombia, and also an old Train Engine. I'd been there before but this time there was a guide, and it was fun to actually understand a lot of what he was talking about (not just the words but the concepts) because we'd been learning about a lot of them in class already.

El Centro
Originally uploaded by hum97

Finally we drove through El Centro - the historic central part of Barranquilla. It's busy and bustling but also a very poor area. They call the residential parts "Barrios de invasion" - Neighborhoods of invasion - where poor people come in the night and just quickly build a living structure and then over time as they come across things materials etc, they slowly build up cement walls and such until they have a proper house and the city pretty much has no choice but to give them a paper saying "ok, this is officially your house". Seems like kind of a weird concept, but I guess that's how it used to be really in other countries too...

Click on any of the pictures to go to my flickr site for more photos from the tour day.