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Pachas First Reconciliation

My second graders!


This has been a super long week, however there were many bright spots just the same. On Tuesday, the school celebrated Language Day, our own self-professed holiday. Unfortunately, we followed the schedule that is my busiest so I was running around all day. We had tons of activities for the girls, including many that allowed girls from high school to teach and hang out with girls from primary. I think everyone had fun. Along with two other foreigners, I was asked to give a speech about culture or language to the oldest girls of 11th grade, and I think it went really well. I discussed the stereotypes that many people have about Colombia, and how I think most of them are exaggerated or untrue. My supervisor said I did well, and that I really made them think, so I guess that's a good thing.

Last night, I attended the 2nd graders' first reconciliation ceremony. I was not really looking forward to going as it was from 7-9 at night, and I was exhausted, but I am very glad I went. The girls were so nervous to talk with the priests, and I couldn't help but think back to my own first reconciliation. They were adorable though. When I go home for good I am really going to miss them, despite my frustration during class sometimes. : ) So the ceremony started with a short service. The girls sang songs, there was a gospel and homily, and then they were dismissed to the classrooms and cafeteria to do confession. After that, they came back and sang a final song which I recorded with my new camera...although the video isn't uploading right now. I'm still getting used to my camera so some of the pictures I post might be blurry. It takes a while to focus and actually take the picture. But they are super cute anyways!










My adorable students eating some cake after confession.

Well, I'm excited for tomorrow, not only because it is friday but because it is my birthday! One of Colombia's most famous chain restaurants Crepes and Waffles is coming to the school (not because it is my birthday), for a fundraiser for the school newspaper, so I will have crepes with nutella and banana on my b-day. And that night I'm going to Alex's for some cake, and out salsa dancing with friends...yay birthdays! And to top it off, we have monday off from school! A good end to a long week...



Posted by AmyLynn 14:43 Archived in Colombia Tagged events Comments (0)


And finally a new camera...and apartment pictures!

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Although I love Colombia, and had pretty much decided I would stay here for four years if the McCain/Palin ticket was elected, I am super super excited that I will be able to come home to a country I'm proud to call my own. I know that Obama and Biden will bring real change. I'm also excited that this election is finally over, and I can stop receiving e-mails about it...both from the Obama campaign (three a day lately) and from people who disagree with me (Let me clear up that Obama is not a terrorist...or a Muslim...also there are many, many good Muslim people in the world and in America, and too many terrorists all over the world. Period. Muslim, Christian, whatever. Okay, just had to get that off my chest).

Now, last night I celebrated the election results with some other gringa friends of mine. We had a good time eating, drinking, and celebrating. And although I had to work at 7 this morning, I did not get home until 1am. Oh well, it was a historical night!

This past weekend, I had planned to go out for Halloween but didn't feel well, so I only dressed up for school. I was the Statue of Liberty courtesy of a green bedsheet I found in my closet and a cardboard crown and torch. Not bad at all. Other people took pictures, so hopefully I can get some up here soon.

Speaking of pictures, I finally bought a new camera. It is beautiful, so much nicer than my old one. And the good news is, my memory card from my old camera fits in my new one, so I can finally post apartment pictures! Keep in mind, these were taken in August when I first got here which means the apartment looks wonderfully clean. As most of you know, I am not a clean person, so imagine these pictures with a few dishes in the sink, clothes on the floor and bed, etc.


As you can see this is my bedroom. Imagine the red bed with a pile of clothes on it...don't worry I sleep in the other one : )


...The kitchen


...living room


...and the beautiful patio!

And one last thought for this post (a long thought : )). Next Tuesday, we are celebrating "Language Day" at the school. I was asked to give a speech to the eleventh graders (the oldest girls) about my experience here. I decided to talk about the perceptions that Americans have of Colombia and how my experience here contrasts those perceptions. I've come to find that Americans' perceptions of Colombia are often huge exaggerations and stereotypes. For example, I have yet to come across drugs or kidnappers. These things do exist here, but I'm pretty sure they exist in every other part of the world, as well. What I have found is a gorgeous country with warm and welcoming people. If you ever need a place to travel, you should consider coming here. Especially if I'm here when you come! My parents are planning to visit during Holy Week, so I'm hoping they can see the positives of this country too. I've been talking about this with my sixth and seventh graders too, just to get a feel for the topic, and they are very passionate about changing Colombia's image. They have heard such preposterous ideas and questions from Americans like, "Do you have internet in your country?" "Do you have to stay inside all day because there is constant war?" "Do you live in a jungle?" "Are you a drug dealer?" It's these kinds of generalizations that make me ashamed sometimes to be an American. However, one thing I tried to make clear to my students was that not all Americans are ignorant about the world. I think many people in the States are trying to change this stereotype about Americans that we are all ignorant by becoming more educated about the world, by traveling, by using our power and wealth in a more positive and less selfish way. At least that's my hope. I promised my students I would bring a positive image of Colombia back to the States. They desperately want to be taken seriously, rather than being seen as uncivilized. And who can blame them? There are two tourism advertisements that are currently trying to change Colombia's image for the better. "Colombia is passion," and "Colombia...the only risk is wanting to stay." I'm starting to believe both of these ideas, and I hope everyone who loves to travel will consider traveling here. At least educate yourselves and don't let all the bad news tarnish the country's reputation!


Posted by AmyLynn 16:53 Archived in Colombia Tagged educational Comments (0)

Coffee, hot springs, and pop-a-wheelie jeeps oh my!

My travels to Eje Cafetero, Colombia's coffee-growing region.

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View Bogota, Colombia on AmyLynn's travel map.

It's not every weekend that you swim in hot springs, sleep in a 5-bed attic hotel room, see a parade with cross-dressers, chickens, and jeeps, and dance three nights in a row. Ok well, maybe that last part Colombians actually do every weekend. However, I was fortunate to experience all of this in a short period of 4 days.

I met my traveling companions the night before we left. My friend Jime from Loras put me in contact with another extranjera from the States (Minnesota), and while we've tried to get together before, it has never worked out. So finally we had the same week off and decided to travel to the coffee region of Colombia with three of her other friends (two Colombian guys, and one other gringa also from MN).

I had the impression that we were leaving Thursday night, but we decided to go party that night instead. It was my first time dancing in awhile, but I had fun. They dance so well here, and I think I'm getting better. (On a side note, I'm taking a rumba class after school on Wednesdays with some of the other teachers, and my dance teacher told me I actually have very good rhythm! He said I should continue to practice and in no time I'll have dancing "instincts" close to Colombians'. Haha we will see about that. I will keep dancing though; it's one of my favorite things to do here).


So anyways after partying Thursday night, Katie, me, and Juan Manuel left at 10am on Friday morning for Pereira. Cally and Jorge had to work and take classes, so they met us in Pereira later. The bus ride was...interesting. I would never take my dad or my sister on a long bus trip here. Driving through the mountains plus 8 hours equals lots of nausea. I did make it without throwing up, although the little boy behind me didn't...gross.

The first thing we did when we got to Pereira was see our lodgings. We stayed on a farm for the first two nights of our trip. It was really nice, but we only had two beds for five people...we made do. Then we decided to head over to the Fonseca concert (a famous Colombian singer) in the city. We got there late, bought some scalped tickets (which we later realized we didn't even have to buy...the concert was free...oops), and watched an awesome concert. I'm going to have to download some Fonseca songs. The pic below is from the internet because we forgot to bring our cameras to the concert (and the other pics on here are from Katie's camera because mine decided not to work...I'm buying a new one for my birthday).


After the concert, we saw some of the city's bars and met Cally and Jorge at the bus terminal.

Los Termales de Santa Rosa

The next day we woke up late, and took a taxi into Pereira. We then ate lunch and took a bus to Manizales. We then found a off-road jeep "taxi" and road up the gravel mountain road to Los Termales de Santa Rosa (hot springs). Yes, I think half the trip was spent on traveling! I didn't really know what to expect at the hot springs, but I was very pleasantly surprised. There was a huge waterfall way up in the mountains, that led to two smaller waterfalls which flowed into the hot springs pool. We swam and relaxed all day in the hot springs...it was gorgeous.



On the way home, Katie wasn't feeling so well, so she and Jorge went to the farm while the rest of us went out dancing. It was pretty fun, although Juan Manuel tended to leave us to pick up other girls : ) Cally and I probably looked super funny dancing together considering she is about a foot and a half taller than me. Anyways, in the second club, Cally and I left at 12, while Juan Manuel said, "I'll probably stay three hours more." So we said, "Whatever floats your boat," and left lol.


On Sunday we woke up somewhat earlier since we had to find a bus to Armenia, which was about a 2 hour drive. Armenia was a really cool city; it was so much calmer than Bogota. We stayed in a hotel in Armenia, and I have to tell you about our room. We decided to take the five bed room, even though we could have taken one room with three beds, and one with two. Little did we know how funny the five bed room would be. We walked up to the third floor, and started to walk down the hall to the rooms (at this point we are outside on the roof), but the hotel employee said, "No, it's up there." So we all looked up some rickety stairs to an attic bedroom. So we laughed and walked up the stairs to the landing, then crossed a rickety metal bridge to our door. The room was nice looking, the beds were soft, the wallpaper was peeling, and the bathroom doors were frosted, but see-through. Oh well, I paid about 25,000 pesos, which equals about $12, so I'm not complaining. After setting our stuff in the room, we went to lunch and took a taxi to the city. We found out that there was a parade going on in the city, so we booked it over to the street it was on.

Here are the differences we noticed between parades in the US and parades in Colombia (possibly Latin America in general):
1. No one in Colombia sits nicely on the curbs waiting for the parade to go by. Most of the time when a truck, jeep, or "float" went by, people's toes were dangerously close to being run over. And in the US it is now considered dangerous to throw candy...psshh


2. Colombian parades are super random. Firetrucks and marching bands are pretty much non-existent. Instead I saw, in order, a truck full of chickens, a truck full of drag queens, and three or four jeeps spinning only on their back tires (as the entire crowd stampedes back so as not to get hit).


3. One similarity...people drink. One guy had aguardiente in his back pocket (a liquor made with anise...not my favorite) and was sharing it with all his friends. Yay!

After the parade, we headed back to the hotel, napped, had dinner, and went dancing! We found a cool stretch of clubs. We entered the area where they all were, and the employees of each club basically drag you into their bar. They pester you so much, so we just found one that had some good music and parked ourselves there. We drank a lot of rum and coke, danced with some Colombians (I tried to communicate), and laughed at some guy that did not stop staring at Cally the whole night. He never asked Cally to dance, but when I danced with him, he asked me her name...go figure...

Ibague and Bogota

Ibague was not on our list of traveling spots, but we got stuck taking a bus there since there were no buses going to Bogota from Armenia. So anyways, another 8 hour bus ride later and I was home, exhausted, and happy. Yay traveling!



Posted by AmyLynn 18:50 Archived in Colombia Tagged bus Comments (0)


My first writing since I graduated!

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So I haven't written anything since I graduated, and while I was bored watching the debate last night I got inspired and wrote these two poems. These will hopefully be a start to weekly writing...I need to keep it up!


a new country
to climb

A Tale of Two Cities

In Chicago,
Yellow taxis honk their horns and
Buildings scrape the sky, reflections unnatural in the Great Lake alongside.
Fans sport baseball caps and eat hot dogs as
Business suits rush to work, all without glimpsing
The homeless man who strums his guitar for change.
Meanwhile, in Bogota,
Yellow taxis honk their horns and
Buildings almost scrape the sky, in a mockery of the majestic mountains nearby.
Fans sport futbol jerseys and eat arepas as
Colorful scarves and boots take their time – all without seeing
The refugee children who juggle in the street for change.

I still don't know if I'm traveling this weekend. If not, I'm hoping to go sightseeing in Bogota or dancing maybe? We will see! Oh and by the way, I used my free time today to bake cookies and cook shepherd's pie...what?!? Who knew I could cook??


Posted by AmyLynn 17:18 Archived in Colombia Tagged living_abroad Comments (1)

Las Pachas and The Scoop!

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Well, tomorrow is my last day of school until next Tuesday. I'm very excited to have a long break. I'm hoping to go traveling to a different city in Colombia, but if not, I hope I have some other fun news to report after the break. Until then, here are a few websites for you to check out. The first is the Santa Francisca Romana (Las Pachas) School website, and the second is a link to the school newspaper that I've been editing, The Scoop. Our first online edition came out Friday and those editions should come out every 2 weeks, so keep looking! Our first print edition will be printed in December. Miss you all!





Posted by AmyLynn 20:34 Archived in Colombia Tagged educational Comments (0)

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