Feliz dia de las brujas de los ninos de usme!!! Love and miss you all, Kate
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Feliz dia de las brujas de los ninos de usme!!! Love and miss you all, Kate
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
When I boarded my plane for Bogota, I never could have imagined what I would experience over the next five days. I had anxiously been counting down the days until I would see Kate again, and with a busy week of midterms before I left, I never really thought about the places I would be going or the people I would be meeting. Needless to say, my first trip to Colombia was one that I will never forget.
On my first full day, Kate and I took the Transmilenio to the “Museo de Oro” stop. We toured La Candeleria, the area near the museum that’s full of vendors selling everything from jewelry to books and electronics. I took Spanish in high school, so I was able to offer greetings and carry on basic conversations, but I would often look at Kate with a puzzled look hoping that she would be able to jump in and save me. Her Spanish is amazing, and the locals always seem very impressed with how well she is able to speak and understand. Our tour through the museum was great and it was the first time I noticed how much a city of contrasts Bogota really is. Although the streets are generally dirty and have more litter than you would expect to find in the U.S., the insides of buildings are absolutely immaculate. I would have expected to see something like the Museo de Oro in Washington D.C. or NYC, but In Bogota it was certainly a surprise. That afternoon, I tried Bandeja Paisa, the same dish that Kate enjoyed while in Soacha. I loved it and I told Kate that with the two different types of sausage, shredded pork, fried egg, rice, beans and pig’s foot, it’s absolutely a lineman’s dream. After walking around some more, we decided to buy Colombian futbol jerseys and found a local bar to watch their final World Cup qualifying match. Since Colombia had already been eliminated from the tournament, it was tamer than I expected. My first day in Colombia was eye-opening and I loved just being able to spend time with Kate in the country that I’ve heard so much about.
The next day I went to Mass with Kate and met Brittany as well as Oscar and Miriam. They’re all great people, and you can tell that Oscar and Miriam love their girls very much. Oscar refers to Brittany and Kate as “Mi hijas” (my daughters) and told me as well as everyone else that would listen that he was “Su papi” (their dad). He calls me “Tio Sam” (Uncle Sam) and was very happy that I’d come to visit. The pride that he and Miriam have in their country, church and home was very obvious, and told me many times that I am always welcome to stay with them. After Mass, Kate and I went to Monserrate, a large church on top of a mountain that overlooks the city.
As you can tell from the pictures thick fog prevented us from seeing much, but we had a great time walking around on top of the mountain. It started to pour while we were up there and we waited out the worst part of the storm inside a café enjoying tea and café tinto (regular coffee). Next stop was Bogota Beer Company where we were hoping to just enjoy a Colombian microbrew, but were surprised to also find the Patriots vs. Broncos game on TV and a guy from New Hampshire visiting his Colombian girlfriend. This was Kate’s first time finding football in Colombia and I have a feeling that BBC will become a Sunday hangout for her.
On Monday we took a bus with Brittany to “La Catedral Sal” in the town of Zapaqueria. As you can tell from the pictures, it’s pretty amazing what they were able to construct so far underground. The guide spoke entirely in Spanish but I was able to understand parts and Kate and Brittany helped by translating.
We also went on a “Miner’s route” tour which basically included climbing through very dark and sometimes small tunnels. We joked how in the U.S. you would have had to sign about five waivers to go, but here it was just put a hard hat and flashlight on and you’re good to go.
We returned to Bogota at night and stopped at the Exito that Kate has now memorized to pick up food to make dinner at Miriam and Oscar’s. When we arrived at their apartment, Oscar was outside trying to fix a water pipe that had burst. He wasn’t having much luck, and Miriam came out to help him. I tried giving a few ideas in Spanglish, but Miriam insisted on doing most of the work. Once it was fixed, Oscar praised me as if I had done everything…I think he was unwilling to say his wife was able to fix something he couldn’t. Brittany, Kate and I prepared dinner as Oscar flipped through different music stations while asking us what kind of music we liked. His favorites were dance, tropical and classic rock…rap was at the bottom of his list. Dinner was entertaining as Oscar talked in depth about the security of Colombia.
For my last day, we took a bus out to Usme to bring toys and candy to the kids. When we arrived, there was a haircut brigada going on downstairs where everyone in the community could come and get a free haircut or their nails done. The kids adore Kate and would run into her arms as soon as they saw her. They were all excited to meet me and couldn’t wait for the toys I had. As you can see from the pictures, the planes, cars and jump rope were a huge hit.
At one point, one of the boys kept on asking Kate if he could run home just for a minute to drop off his plane…Kate was unsure why he wanted to so bad but finally let him. When it was time to leave, that same boy came up to me and handed me a small bag of milk as a thank you, and it was now clear why he had returned home. These kids have almost nothing and yet all he wanted to do was give me a gift to show his appreciation.
I couldn’t have asked for more from my trip to Bogota and it was great being able to see Kate and where she’ll be living/working for the next year. The people are great and Kate already seems like a local down there. I can’t wait to go back!
Friday, October 9, 2009
In order to help us communicate, and get things done, Brittany and I have started taking classes at the National University of Bogota. I placed into level 5, and my class only has 5 other people in it! There are girls from Germany, Brazil, and LA, a guy from Holland, and an older man from Iran. Isn't that awesome!?! Our Colombian professor is great and I'm really happy so far with the class. It is 5 days a week from 4-6pm until December 1. It's really intensive and hopefully I'll improve a lot over these next 2 months.
This week, we went to Bosa and Usme a few times. Brittany and I are really going to try to get started on that big hill in the backyard of Usme and turn it into a place where the kids can play. We have plans to make it a community project, and recruit the help of the families of the kids we work with. We are planning on talking to Father Jose Romero (priest at Usme) about it and starting very soon. It should be a tough, but really rewarding, project. Father Carlos (priest in Soacha) is on school vacation right now, so I'll pick up with that next week.
After class tonight, I am heading to the airport to pick up my boyfriend, Sam! We are going to spend the weekend doing touristy things here in Bogota (gold museum, candelaria, monserrate, etc...). Monday is a holiday here (yes!!) and we're going to a Salt Cathedral in Zipaquira. Tuesday, we are going to the mission in Usme. The kids are so excited because they know that Sam is bringing lots of toys, candy, projects, and games from the United States (thanks Mom, Toots, Mrs. Major, Darcy, Sara, and Sam!!). He's also bringing the cards from the kids in the St. Andrew the Fisherman Church (Edgewater, MD) youth group. They are very excited to hear from their 'penpals'! It should be a lot of fun and I'm really excited to show him my new city, and for him to meet everyone here!
No pictures this time...my camera is in my backpack, which is locked in the office in Usme right now..long story. I will have pictures of my fun weekend and of my class next week!
Thanks again for all of the love and support!