Bienvenidos a Cartagena!

As of today I’ve been in Colombia for a whole month. It definitely didn’t fly by, but I still can hardly believe I’ve been away from the US for that long. 3 weeks in chilly Chia, and the last 2 here in Cartagena, where it is even hotter than I imagined it would be. The sun is strong, but the worst thing is the humidity. I wake up sweaty and nothing changes all day long.

When the field director droppped me off at my house I thought I might cry. Seeing where I was going to live for the rest of the year suddenly filled me with panic. The house is small but very nice, clean and airy with nice pictures and decorations. But still, its a new place where I am a guest, and the only people I knew in all of Colombia were going to drive away and leave me there. My host is a woman named Manuela, a sweet señora who hosted a volunteer last year. She doesn’t speak English, I don’t speak Spanish, so there has been a lot of confusion. My room is big, and even has its own bathroom. The water is always cold, but this doesn’t bother me because the weather is so hot. I have a dresser and a shelf, but I keep a lot of things in my suitcase under my bed. 

The best part of living with Manuela is that she cooks delicious food. I chip in for most of the groceries and she teaches me how to make traditional consteña dishes. Coconut rice, fried fish, pork, sopa de queso, ensalada, cafe con leche, and my favorite- patacones. I understand very little of what’s going on, but at least I can enjoy the food and cooking with Manuela.

Welcome to Colombia Day!
Welcome to Colombia Day!

At school I work with two co-teachers, Alfredo in the morning and Fredy in the afternoon. My first week was mostly getting-to-know-you activities but on the Friday, it was a school celebration day. Día de Colombianidad is independence day here, and each class had to do a presentation on the culture of one region of the country. I was with the sixth grade, and we represented the coast (easy enough!) Alfredo convinced me to wear a costume with the girls and we did a dance in front of the rest of the school. Que Pena!  Despite my embarassment, the day was really fun and I loved watching all the other performances. 

Alfredo and the sixth grade kids
Alfredo and the sixth grade kids

On the weekend I went to the mall with some friends and to the beach on Monday, a day off for the holiday. Boca Grande was beautiful and the water a perfect temperature. I could go there everyday, if only the bus ride was not so long. And let me tell you about the buses here, they are crazy! There are no stops, you must just yell to the driver’s assistant and they stop to let you on, but only for a moment. The second your foot touches the step, the bus is moving again and you have to stagger to a seat, if there are any left. The buses often play loud champeta music and are decorated with colors and garlands and stickers. When you’d like to get off again you have to yell to the man again, and then hop off quickly. I never thought I would appreciate the orderly MBTA bus system so much.

Above: Last photo with the other volunteers, a painting of the coast, two photos of my students out for an ice cream treat, a colorful Colombian graveyard, and a photo of Dia de Colombianidad. 

Today is Friday again and I am looking forward to a weekend of tourist activities. The last sunday of every month most museums and attractions are free, so I am going to take advantage. Sorry these posts are so few, internet is hard to find here. But more pictures and updates to come soon! 

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