A Travellerspoint blog

The Waiting Game

8 months down, about 3 more to go!

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Things around here have been pretty slow lately. Although I have a long weekend due to Monday being a Colombian national holiday, I don't have much planned. I made it to a movie with a friend last night, and tried sushi for the first time (which I was pleasantly surprised about, because even though I love fish, I wasn't sure how I felt about raw fish wrapped in seaweed. But I'm sure I will eat it again). Other than small things like that and teaching, I'm basically just waiting (im)patiently for my parents to arrive in less than two weeks. I'm very excited about their trip, as this will only be their second time out of the country, and I am the one who will show them around. It will also be nice just to have a part of home with me in my new, temporary home.

On another note, school has been going well. Time here is flying by. I cannot believe that we are in the last semester already. In August, when I was crying because of loneliness, I thought the 4th semester would never come. And I'm sure in July, when I'm on my way home, I'll be wondering where the year went. I'm already starting to wonder that actually. However, I know I will be happy to go home at the same time. Besides family time, I need some Matt time. We will both be so happy when we can have a relationship while we're both in the same country. Needless to say, it's difficult to have dates through skype, but we make it happen the best we can.

Well, like I said, I don't have much of an update, other than a little critter is somewhere in my house. I came home to a bit of a surprise after the movie last night, as a two inch spider greeted me on the door of my kitchen cabinet when I came home. Unfortunately for me, as I was going to kill it with a phone book, it scurried into the cabinet where all my pots, pans, dishes, and cups are. Yay for me! Who knows where that dang thing is now...probably forming a large spider family in my pots and pans. Hopefully, when my dad gets here in less than two weeks he can find it and kill it for me. That's what dads are for, right? : )

Posted by AmyLynn 16:27 Archived in Colombia Tagged animal Comments (0)

Fiesta de aniversario en una granja

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Fortunately for me before coming to Bogota, I already had friends here because they attended (or still attend) my university in the US. Alex is one of those good friends and she actually came back to Bogota after a year in the States to study medicine. Her family has been nothing but welcoming to me during my entire 7 months here so far. One example of this was this weekend when I was invited to her parents 25th Anniversary celebration on their farm. Their farm is a gorgeous place surrounded by green mountains, and on Saturday they had a large tent set up with beautiful place settings and (of course) a dance floor for later in the night.

These are pictures from the family farm that I took last year.

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Alex's family reminds me a lot of mine since my parents recently celebrated their 25th Anniversary and both of our families have only two daughters at almost the same ages. It's great to be accepted into their family while I'm here and makes me feel a little more at home.

Anyways, back to the party. The party started with a mass where Alex and her sister both did the readings. It was a really nice start. And the mass was followed by not one, not two, not even three, but FOUR bands. Plus a DJ. Needless to say, the party was a blast. The first band was three guitarrists (I'm sure they were a specific kind of band, but I don't know what). They played during dinner. On a side note, dinner was equally amazing. Carne con salsa de champinones, pollo, papas, vegetales, y frutas (meat with mushroom sauce, chicken, potatoes, vegetables, and fruit). And of course wedding cake and a second jello type dessert. Plus, appetizers like empanadas and cheese and meat trays. I was stuffed! Anyways, the first band was followed by a 15 piece Mariachi band, complete with violins, trumpets, guitars, and singers. Amazing. Then the dancing started with two traditional Colombian bands who switched back and forth: salsa and vallenato. Vallenato is a type of music distinguished by accordions. If all wedding and anniversary celebrations are like this in Colombia, I want to go to more. Maybe I'll just have to bring these traditions to my own wedding someday!

Posted by AmyLynn 09:03 Archived in Colombia Tagged events Comments (0)

Cultural Week

Field trip to the house of Rafael Pombo

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Full of inflatables, rock climbing walls, circuses, magic shows, field trips, and much more, Cultural Week (last week) at the school was obviously an awesome time for both the girls and the faculty of the school. Needless to say, this week has been difficult. We are all exhausted and not ready for class again...and final evaluations are starting too! Personally, I thought the girls were really lucky to have a whole week full of fun activities. Friday in particular was a great outing for the second graders.

We left the school around 8am and arrived in the center of downtown about an hour later. I never really thought about how stressful field trips would be for teachers when I was a student, but now I definitely understand. Trying to keep track of 90 second graders with 6 teachers is not the easiest job, especially in the middle of a busy (not super safe) downtown. However, the girls enjoyed it and we didn't lose anyone (always an accomplishment)!

Here are some girls in the central plaza downtown.

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So our field trip was to a house where a famous Colombian children's poet, Rafael Pombo, was born (in something like 1833). When we arrived at the house, there were probably about 5 or 6 people dressed up in costumes to look like the characters from his poems (and also one man dressed up like Rafael Pombo himself). I would probably compare him to Dr. Seuss or Shel Silverstein because all of the girls were familiar with Rafael Pombo's poems and characters. Most of the girls could recite his poems from memory (much like many kids could do for Dr. Seuss in the States). It was really fun to see the girls excited because they knew the characters. Well when we went inside, the characters started to act out the poems and to interact with the girls; they loved it. We also got a tour of Pombo's house, and even saw the room where he was born. Finally we played a few games and did some crafts (my group made stick puppets of some of the characters). It was quite fun.

This is a plaque hanging outside the house.

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Here are other pics of the girls meeting the characters. The first is the actor playing Pombo.

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Besides Cultural Week, not much exciting has happened around here. I'm very excited for April because my parents are coming to visit for about a week and a half for Holy Week. We will be traveling to Cartagena, the coast of Colombia, for the first few days and returning to Bogota to visit the touristy sites. It will be fun and interesting to play tour guide and hopefully they will be impressed with my Spanish (although I'm not)! Anyways, hopefully I will have more updates in March before their trip here in April. We are already starting final exams this week for the third period. Only one more and I will be home...crazy!

Posted by AmyLynn 18:06 Archived in Colombia Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

A Colombian spa

My apologies if that title is misleading : )

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The people that frustrate me the most are also the ones I love the most. Take the following as an example:

Class this week was a disaster. I tried to plan some really fun and exciting activities for my second grade girls, but they just couldn't handle it. And while they were chattering and not listening, I was pulling out my hair and (not proudly) yelling. But Fridays are always blessings, and this one could not have been more perfect.

Today during my recess duty, I had the opportunity to visit a true Colombian spa. Native Colombians attended my every need. My back was massaged. Then my face was lotioned, and my lips glossed. Then I headed over to receive a manicure. Next my hair was brushed. And finally I was able to choose some beautiful stamps as decorations for my hands. I chose a star, heart, and flower. The stamps were from The Little Mermaid and the native Colombians were from second grade. : )

They were adorable and were so excited to pamper me and the two other teachers on duty...one a male computer teacher. He, however, stopped them at the lip gloss.

I just find it amazing that my attitude about these students can change so drastically from one minute to the next. I think sometimes my problem is that I'm not really cut out to be an elementary teacher. Acting as a camp counselor to 8 year olds is much more up my alley than teacher because I still love to play. These are the times I will remember when looking back on this experience in Colombia: having fun, playing with, and getting to know my girls' personalities. Hopefully they will remember these times too, rather than the times I get frustrated and start to yell : ( I know I tend to remember the good parts about my teachers.

I wish I would have gotten pictures of my spa experience, but I wasn't expecting such wonderful treatment during recess duty. However, I'm sure this is not the last I will see of the Second Grade Spa.

Posted by AmyLynn 12:49 Archived in Colombia Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Este Domingo

Gold and Cathedrals

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On Sundays in Bogota, I think that people are in one of three places.

1. Church
2. Downtown
3. Bike-riding on the Ciclovia

I think many probably do all three.

First of all, the Ciclovia is a Sunday ritual here in Bogota. A few streets throughout the city (from the North where I live, all the way to the South downtown) are closed to vehicle traffic from about 8 in the morning until about 3 in the afternoon. It's been great for the people and for the city of Bogota as the turnout has been amazing. Most people ride bikes, but I have seen joggers, walkers, roller-bladers, and skateboarders. The Ciclovia itself is free, but many people sell food and drink along the way. I haven't tried it yet, but I would like to soon. And a note of warning, trying to cross the streets of the Ciclovia is even more difficult than crossing a street of cars, buses and taxis...that is close to impossible!

Anyways, this Sunday I spent my morning and afternoon downtown with a teacher friend of mine named Claudia. Although we had a few transportation issues (we took the wrong bus and had a crazy taxi driver - which now that I think of it, is not that unusual), we made it to the Museo del Oro (the Gold Museum) by about 10:30. The Gold Museum is very famous in Colombia and for good reason, the artifacts we saw were amazing and very well intact. And to our pleasant surprise, the museum is free on Sundays! The Museum is three floors of gold, copper, silver, stone and wood artifacts from the indigenous peoples of South America (mostly of Colombia). I learned that the amount of gold found in a person's tomb probably pointed to that person's hierarchy or class in the society (much like the tombs of Egyptian mummies). Also, the myth of El Dorado actually originates in Colombia. There was a chieftan of one tribe of indigenous peoples near Bogota who allegedly went to the middle of a lake called Guayavita and threw gold and emeralds to the bottom. Supposedly, the Spaniards heard of this gold lake and decided to see for themselves if there was a golden city at the bottom. They never did find any at the bottom of the lake, but the story is still legendary. As you can see by the following pictures, I enjoyed the jewelry of the chiefs the most.

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After visiting Museo del Oro, Claudia and I walked towards Bogota's main plaza. Surrounded by government buildings like Congress and covered with pigeons and people, the plaza is an amazing site to see. Also, across from the Plaza is Bogota's most famous Cathedral built by the Spaniards. Besides that cathedral, we took a look inside three or four other Cathedrals. All were beautiful, ornate, and enormous, and were museums of silver and gold themselves. In a few, Mass was actually taking place, so I felt a little awkward touring a Cathedral while others were worshiping. In fact, in the most famous Cathedral, I believe people were being confirmed by the Bishop.

The Plaza:
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And another view:
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The Famous Cathedral:
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And some inside:
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Some other Cathedrals:
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Besides Congress and the government buildings of the plaza, we visited Colombia's version of the White House: The Presidential Palace. Although there were guards surrounding the palace, I was surprised by how close you could actually get to the mansion, as it is very difficult to get close the White House in Washington D.C. The presidential band was playing in the front of the house (possibly for Chavez's visit - the leader of Venezuela).

The Band
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Me with a guard : )
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Finally, as Claudia and I were both tired and hungry from walking all over downtown, we decided to stop for lunch at Bogota's famous hamburger chain El Corral Gourmet. The mall where the restaurant was located was built by a famous Colombian architect (I don't remember his name) who recently died. Claudia informed me that he was famous for mixing natural elements like water with brick and other building materials. The mall had an amazing view of the mountains and of Monserrate (Bogota's cathedral on top of the mountain).

Me in front of a fountain in the mall
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And some views of the mountains:
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Monserrate
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Finally, some views of the colonial streets of La Candelaria (downtown Bogota):
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Well, I must give you a congratulations if you made it this far. I know this was a long-winded and picture-filled post, but if you're reading this blog, you probably want to see more of my exciting experiences rather than my everyday school life, so I hope you enjoyed it! I know I did. : ) And after being a tourist all day, I'll need to get to bed early in order to get to work tomorrow!

Chao a todos!

-Amy

Posted by AmyLynn 15:46 Archived in Colombia Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

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