Chévere is another slang word for cool in Colombia.
So I didn’t blog last week, I was so busy trying to finish up my Statement of Purpose & other supplementary essays for Graduate school – Guess what, I finished all the 14 essays on Wednesday. This week has been a productive one. We are learning how to express emotions, opinions, suggest this, recommend things and health issues in my Spanish class. There was a Health Fair on campus this week, we went as a class, I did an eye exam, paps smear and breast cancer exam -all for free, is that not awesome? We also watched a documentary about conflict & violence in neighborhoods in Colombia – the title is ‘La Sierra’. It’s very interesting and educating – I recommend you all watch it, its subtitle in English and you can find it on YouTube -just type La Sierra in the search button.
Colombia just like any Latin America countries eats a lot of eggs & cheese and drink chocolate a lot. In Central America, the staple food is tortillas but here it’s AREPAs -and I hate it so much. They also eat a lot of pork, fruits, soups, rice, mushrooms and salads.
Breakfast and dinner is always very light and lunch is always the biggest food of the day. Since I’m very picky about the food I eat -I always end up either not eating much or forcing myself to eat the food. There are some things I don’t eat at all like mushrooms, cheese and broccoli. Meat, pork and soups – I avoid eating them. So far I have lost about 4 pounds since I have been here, a combination of not eating and walking a lot. For lunch at the university’s cafeteria – I usually buy Thai food or chicken sandwich; sometimes I buy the day’s menu depending on what they are serving. I always drink Jugo de Mora (grape juice) – that’s my favorite drink. The lunch cost about 8,000 pesos which is like USD$4 – isn’t that cheap? The ice-cream here is good – my favorites are chocolate, arequipa and vanilla.
Scary Lexie: ever since I met this girl, she’s always talking about how she wants to go on a roller-coaster – you would think she is not scared of flights and likes adventures. On Saturday, after belly dancing class we went to ride the metro cable. They are small ‘cable trains’ that lets us see the city from above. Anyways, Lexie was so scared, she screamed, claimed she was going to be sick, her color even changed -she became so pale like she just saw a ghost. The funny thing was that there was a little girl about 4 years old in the metro cable with us and she was very calm. After that we went shopping in an outlet and I bought this really cute purple top which I paid with my VISA – I suggest next time I leave my Visa & MasterCard at home so I’m not tempted to use it. We went out Saturday night – first to club Sam Pues, where they wouldn’t let Juan David in because he was 17, the music was great but we left about 12.30midnight to another one -B Lounge- because a lot of students at EAFIT were there, it was super fun as well.
The next day, I stayed in, woke up at 11.30am, took a shower, had breakfast and went back to sleep till 6pm.
This week has been colorful and it exposed me to some aspect of the Colombian culture. On Monday, we took an exam for level 4 and I passed, so now am in level 5 (the 1st level in intermediate Spanish) -Que Rico (how lovely)!Also I feel my Spanish is getting better – on Thursday I told the class the sad news about the Yale graduate student who was killed in Spanish. On Friday, there was a market on campus -El Zoco market- they had a lot of beautiful things, from clothes to artisan crafts to accessories. I bought a really pretty yellow top which I wore later in the night for a party at Juanes’s house.
Belly dancing on Thursday was great; we learnt how to move our hands elegantly. I got my student visa, now I have to register it with DAS -department of security. It is an annoying process, I had to take a blood test and pay about USD$70 to a specific bank. I hope to be done with DAS this week; all I need is to take a passport photo. I met with my conservation partner on Friday – he seems cool, so my Spanish should improve significantly over the coming weeks.
Friday night -we went to Juanes’s house. As usual it was fun, there were more people this time around, some were friendly and others not so. Lexie and Myself bought Bacardi lemon -it tasted good. People started acting crazy which is what happens when there is too much aguadentes and rum in the system. A lot of silly pictures that I will not post online were taken (just in case you are wondering, I was not drunk nor tipsy – I do drink, however I LOVE to always be in control so I never do things in excess.
On Saturday, I went to Lexie’s grand-father’s 80th birthday. The ceremony was cool; I met her aunts, uncles and other relatives. They were very welcoming and nice.
The highlight of the ceremony according to me was when this very old man with one eye started dancing -he would move his body and he had coordination. I recorded him dancing, I will post next week because my camera is not with me right now. However I concluded that nobody in the world knows how to party like we Nigerians………you are free to disagree but that’s my own opinion.
Sunday I went to the Botanical Garden for the Book and Culture fair – it was the last day of the fair which started on the 13th. I regretted not going earlier instead of waiting to the last day and also not having my camera sucked – I missed capturing some interesting things. There was a lot of books – books on history, science, personal development, culture, & so on , if you know me you will know I love books – they make me so happy. They also had the booth where you would listen to testimonies from survivors of violence in Colombia and they had personal items from people who have disappeared without a trace on display and a video on the effect of violence on kids. This was an eye opener of me.
The best part of the fair was the pictures taken by Jairo Ruiz Sanabria – he had pictures of Afro Colombians on display from those in the music sector to art to education to science to sports. Out of the pictures was a picture of Wole Soyinka – he represented the voice of Africa – he attended the fair last year. I hope to meet him before he dies. When I got back home, Juanes’s concert in Cuba was on – I wished I was here. There were a lot of people and the musicians who sang were awesome. Music is one of the best things in the world – it brings people together.
Colombia will be playing a soccer match against Chile on the 10th of October – and they will be playing here in Medellin and I’ll definitively be going to watch it live.
This Saturday was “the day of love and friendship” in Colombia. It’s just like Valentine’s Day but not for lovers only, it includes friends. Lexie gave me a cute ear-ring, my host family gave me a pretty necklace.
I’m expecting this week to be very busy – I intend to make real progress on my personal statement essay for grad school. I also decided to have another blog about my travel -but this one will be in Spanish- I’m thinking it will improve my Spanish writing skills.
!Chimba is a slang word for cool in Colombia!
This week has been every eventful. First – we (Lexie and myself) started the belly dancing class last Saturday – it was awesome, the ladies were very nice and the maestra (teacher) is very beautiful, flexible and graceful. The Thursday class is a combination of musical dance and belly dancing – a guy (a very cute guy with dreads) taught the musical section of the class; we did some exercise on rhymes, harmony, melody and how to concentrate. Mind you, this was totally in Spanish and I understood everything…….
Last Saturday (the 5th), on our way from the belly dancing class, we passed by the stadium – there were so many people because Colombia was playing against Ecuador – we won that match -2:1. We bought a Colombian jersey to support the players and it looked good on us. However, Thursday was sad because we lost to Uruguay 3:1 – very sad.
On Friday, we had our oral exam – I was nervous because I’m not yet very confident about talking in past tense (there are 4 different types of past tense in Spanish which makes it very difficult) in Spanish.
I met some guys from Congo and Kenya at the university. I’m very impressed with the guys from Congo because the learnt English in Kenya just 6 months ago and they speak it pretty good, now they adding Spanish to the 3 other languages they speak – Que Rico! I also started processing my student visa -it’s a very complicated process, an agency here in Medellin will help me obtain a student visa in Bogota the capital – which is good so I don’t have to travel to Bogota. When I get my passport back on Thursday, then I have to go to DAS (immigration department) to register -not looking forward to that because they have a reputation for being very mean.
Yesterday we went to the theater to watch a belly dancing show -it was AWESOME, the show was opened by two beautiful girls and they danced so beautifully, the rest of the other belly dancers were elegant looking and they sure know what they are doing. The drummers and flute players were amazing too. After the show, we went to ‘Wambar’ in Las Palmas to celebrate Jesus’ 18th birthday. Jesus is one of our Colombian friend.
It was a fun night especially when Lexie got tipsy on a half cup of white wine -how sad! Anyways it was a very fun night, got home at 2.52am Sunday morning. Now it’s almost 1pm and am still feeling tired and sleepy but I have to study – I have my final exam (for level 4 Spanish) on Monday.
I could not video much of the belly dancing show and take a lot of pictures because the battery of my Camera was dead (all Lexie’ fault)……..Anyways am looking forward to next week – I have no idea what it’s going to bring but am sure it will be eventful.
Until then Ciao!
So I have been in Colombia – in the city of external spring (Medellin) – for 3 weeks now. Colombia is the first stop on my one year travel across Latin America. Before coming here, I assumed the country was going to be similar to Guatemala. Boy, was I wrong! The city am in -Medellin- is way more developed than Xela (the city I stayed in Guatemala) – it can easily be compared to the states. The water is safe to drink, the transportation system is very easy to navigate and is hard to pin point who is a tourist and who is not.
Well, when I arrived on the 14th of August, I stayed in this very cool hostel – it’s my first time staying in a hostel. The hostel is called -Hostal Tamarindo – I shared a room with 9 other strangers, the room had its own bathroom and a patio. The hostel had its own kitchen (to cook your meals), a reading room, a TV room and another patio downstairs. The owner – a Colombian-American is very cool, nice and helpful with information, plus the hostel is only 5 mins walk to Parque Lleras (the IT place for young people) in Zona Rosa area.
Also I started Spanish class at a university here a week after I arrived – Universidad EAFIT- this school has a very good reputation especially with its language program and International Business program. By the way, I’m in level 4 (they use the common European framework -so level 4 is the last level in the beginner’s stage). The teacher is good and speaks only Spanish in class – which is great I suppose. With the Spanish program, we get to sit in two undergraduate classes to help with listening skills, have a conversation partner and do sports if you want. Anyways, I tried ‘tae kwan do’ and decided it’s not for me. I like the geopolitical class I sit in, I understand most of what the professor teaches – last Wednesday, they were talking about Fukuyama, Kissinger and economic routes.
So the first friend I met is Lexie, she is from Scotland – we met at the university when I went to take a placement exam. Together we met Steve (from Austin) and others frds. These other frds are Colombians -they are very nice, cool and fun (I know that because we hung out with them this past weekend). They also speak English and 98% of them lived in the USA at some point in their lives.
I started having mixed feeling as my one year adventure across Latin America approached but I was determined to make it worthwhile. Packing was a pain as I had problem fitting everything I wanted in a 50 liters backpack, anyways I ended up with a 40 pounds backpack and a 20 pound hand language.
I became anxious once my Copa Airline flight landed in Medellin – I started asking myself why I didn’t familiarize myself with the currency or why I didn’t polish the little Spanish I knew. The taxi driver the hostel arranged for me took mi to a casa de cambio to change my money to pesos – we chatted the whole 45minutes to the hostal and he commended me on my Spanish speaking skills . The hostel – Hostal Tamarindo has a tranquillo sense to it and a cool English speaking Colombian-American owner – Natalie. However I wasn’t too thrill about sharing the room with 9 other people but oh well! The room is spacious though with 5 bunk bed, a big window, clean bathroom and a outside patio.
Once I put my stuff away, I decided to go for a walk around the neighborhood -El Problado in Zona Rosa. It’s pretty with a lot of outdoor cafes, I went to the talked about park- Parque LLeras but I was not too impressed – maybe because I was expecting it to be like Parque Central in Xela, Guatemala, but it was much smaller and lacked the charming feeling of parque central. I found another park – Parque Problado – it was much bigger than the previous but still lacked the charming feeling I was looking for and is surrounded by a very busy road. Anyways, I got lost walking back to the hostal, so I took a taxi .
So far, I love it here in Medellin especially because I have been able to blend in (there is no shortage of morenos in this town – unlike in Xela). People dnt stare at me or ask to take a picture of me cuz its their first time seeing one. Also Medellin is very modernized – I still feel like I’m in the States cuz I can find everything here. Oh – they recycle here, in the hostals, parks, street – there is a recycle bin – Que Bueno!
Well, I started Spanish classes at Universidad EAFIT on Thursday and hopefully home stay on Friday – am looking forward to both….