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!!!!For You the Only Risk is Wanting to Stay BUT for Them, Several Risks Exist!!!!

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So it’s already the end of my internship. I was officially done on Friday and I left Bogota Saturday morning for Medellin. It was great to see friends that I haven’t seen in almost two years. As usual Juliana and Lexie’s family were great. We went to la feria de las flores which is a big deal here in the state of Antioquia. Aah, we went pole dancing today, it was hard work – my legs and arms soar really bad now.

My last few weeks in Bogota was amazing, I met more interesting people at the end of my stay. I met other Africans too; a guy from Nigeria and another from Chad cool, right? I also went to Tumaco with my job for a workshop; Tumaco is a very beautiful place, warm climate and great people. Lot of military presence though, apparently it’s the consolidation center for Plan Colombia.

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Well back to Bogota, I attended a dance presentation by the Afro-group called PALENKE; I believe you can look them up on YouTube – they are amazing I tell you! It was sad to leave to Bogota; there I experienced very great things as well as bad things. For instance, Bogota was the first place I was robbed and the first place I was called a fucking Nigger. For the good things – I was blessed to meet amazing people, learn about the issues of the black population of Colombia and interview great people.

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In case you don’t already know, there are black people in Colombia; in fact Colombia has the third largest population of Black people in the Americas after Brazil and U.S.A. The black folks of Colombia experience a profound type of discrimination, in my opinion different from that of the U.S.A in that they fare worst and are invisibility in Colombia. With the issues of displacement, the blacks are disproportional affected, of the 3 million displaced, more than 1 million are blacks. With the 1991 constitution, blacks (as well as indigenous people) of Colombia were officially recognized, ancestral land were titled to black communities starting in December 1996, which unfortunately collided with the entry of armed conflict between the guerrillas, paramilitaries and the army into the black communities. Since then, blacks have been displaced with little attention given to their situation by the Colombian government.

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There are several Afro-NGOs working to help the displaced and defending the human rights among others of the black Colombians. However, these leaders and organizations face several obstacles, one of these obstacles is the continued threat issues against them by armed groups – these threats have led to the death of several Black and Indigenous Activists. Last year alone, 3 black activists have been assassinated and several others have been forced to seek exile in foreign countries.

So the next time you visit Colombia, do not get carried away. The Blacks of Colombia are way more than the dancing you see in Cartagena, they constitute almost 40% of the Colombian population and yet rank lower than the rest in terms of social and economic indicators. So it would be great to think of them when you are in Colombia and if you can, get involved. Some organizations working with the Black Colombians includes AFRODES, Cimarron, PCN and C.N.O.A. Hence the title of the blog.

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Tomorrow I leave for Central America.

Hasta Luego

La Nigeriana.

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Budget: Money Talk – Colombia 2009

Below is how money was spent for my 10 months trip across Latin America (Aug 2009 to June 2010). Colombia was the first country, then I went up to Mexico and visited Cuba. I didn’t really do a estimation of how much I should spend. I just went with the flow. Now, I’m much better in creating a budget and sticking to it. I stayed in Colombia for 4 months and took Spanish classes for 3 months at two different institutions. I also took Spanish classes at Nicaragua and Guatemala. Some countries were cheaper than others. By far, Costa Rica, Belize, Mexico and Cuba were the most expensive. Those were the countries where I had to be very strict on how I spent money. Whereas, in countries such as Honduras and Nicaragua, I could afford to pay more for better hostels, take more comfortable buses and eat at nicer places. Panama and Colombia are in the middle tier, sometimes I enjoyed ‘luxury’, other times I was careful on what I spent money on. Below, you will find a breakdown on how money was spent in general and by country/city. Oh, a good amount went towards ATM and Credit Card transaction fees.

Country Total USD Per Day (USD) Duration
Colombia $5,914.78            $53 16 Weeks
Panama $1,148         $32.8      5 Weeks
Costa Rica $294 $49 6 days
Nicaragua $1,679.29 $50 5 Weeks
Honduras $1,110.69 $26.4 6 Weeks
El Salvador $255.48 $36.5 1 Week
Guatemala $951.13 $45 3 Weeks
Belize $277 $40 1 Week
Mexico $902.54 $44 3 Weeks
Cuba $910 $65 2 Weeks
Sub Total $13,442.91
Ticket $1,490.50
Shots & other travel gears   $1,138.06  Included Backpack, medications, travel insurance e.t.c
Total $16,071.47
 *Ticket was Multi-city:First leg: Atlanta – Miami – Medellin (Colombia). Second Leg: Cartagena (Colombia) – Panama City. Third Leg: Mexico City – Havana (Cuba) – Panama City – Guatemala City. Fourth Leg: Mexico City – Houston (Texas, USA)

Colombia 2009: Aug 13 to Dec 12, 2009

Colombia USD Duration
Medellin $4,862.78 3 Months
Bogota $200 5 Days
Cali & Buenaventura $540 2 Weeks
Cartagena $312 1 Week
Total $5,914.78 4 Months
Medellin: Breakdown USD Duration
Spanish classes $1,572 7 Weeks
Home stay (2 meals per day, Laundry & Internet) $1,540 8 Weeks
Belly Dancing $103
Student Visa $150
Others (Food, Entertainment, Weekend trips, Tours, In-City transportation) $1,497.78
Total $4,862.78
Panama (Panama City, Bocas, David, Playa Las Lajas & San Blas) USD 1148
Other (Hostel, food, drinks, transportation, e.t.c) $1,076
ATM fee $73
Costa Rica (Puerto Viejo & San Jose) USD 294
Other (Hostel, food, drinks, transportation, e.t.c) $280
ATM fee $14
Nicaragua (Managua, Leon, San Juan del Sur, Playa Popoyo, Isla Ometepe, Corn Islands & Granada) USD 1679.29
ATM fee $86.21
Domestic Flight $171.33
Spanish class & Homestay $260
Fedex Shipment to the USA $221.83
Other (Hostel, food, drinks, transportation, e.t.c) $939.92
Honduras (La Ceiba, San Pedro Sula, Copan, Sambo Creek, Tela) USD 1110.69
ATM fee $56.80
Other (Hostel, weekend trip, food, drinks, transportation, e.t.c) $673.89
Room & Board $380
El Salvador (San Salvador, Playa El Tunco & Mozote) USD 225.48
ATM fee $5.48
Other (Hostel, food, drinks, transportation, e.t.c) $250
Guatemala (Antigua, Lago Atitlan & Xela) USD 951.13
ATM fee $20.99
Other (Hostel, food, drinks, transportation, e.t.c) $815.14
Spanish class $115
Belize (San Iganacio, Hopkins & Caye Caulker) USD 277
ATM fee $5
Other (Hostel, food, drinks, transportation, e.t.c) $272
Mexico (Mexico City, Tulum, Merida, Oaxaca, Palenque & San Cristobal de las Casas) USD 902.54
ATM fee $10
Tour – (Chichen Itza) $35
Other (Hostel, food, drinks, transportation, e.t.c) $857.54
Cuba (Havana, Santa Clara & Trinidad) USD 910
ATM fee $10
Other (Hostel, food, drinks, transportation, e.t.c) $900

My Birthday: !United Nations of Gringos and Natives! in Medellin (Mi Cumpleaños: !Nacionales Unidos de Gringos y Nativos! en Medellin)

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English Version
So my 24th birthday was 2 days ago and I celebrated it here in Medellin – my first birthday out of Nigeria or United States. I was a lot of fun because I’m blessed with wonderful people. My host mum gave me a beautiful earring, Lexie y Juliana gave me a purple dress, purple ear-rings and bought me a Chocolate cake, Freddy gave a really beautiful wrist-watch and Juliana’s mum gave me a perfume. So we went to a Jamaican Bar first and later to club Dejavu to rumba – I totally loved the club because it was mainly Reggeaton and hip-hop music.

 

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So I just want to say a BIG THANK YOU to all my wonderful friends that came to celebrate with me – Freddy & Olivier (Congo), Nicolas & Joe (Kenya), Lexie (Scotland), Mari, Juli, Melissa & her boyfriend, (The Colombians), Chris (Switzerland), Iris, Violeta & her two friends (South Korea), Antonio (France) & his friend (Austria), Eric & Peter (United States), Michael (Norway) & his cousin (Colombia) and the Alemanas. Thank you so much because y’all made my day………………..I really appreciate your presence…
THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH

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Mi Cumpleaños: !Nacionales Unidos de Gringos y Nativos! en Medellin

Mi cumple fue hacer 2 días aquí en Medellin, este cumple es mi primera afuera Nigeria o EEUU. Mis amiguitas (Juli y Lexie) me dieron un vestido lindo, aretes y torta de Chocolate. La señora que yo vivo con me dio un aretes lindo y Freddy me dio un reloj muy bonito y la madre de Juliana me dio un regalo también. Primera, nosotros fuimos Jamaica Bar para beber y después discoteca Dejavu para rumba, me gusta la discoteca porque es solamente Reggeaton y Hip-Hop – Gracias a Dios. Entonces.

 

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Yo quiero decir un Gracias muy grande a mis amigos que vinieron a mi cumple – Freddy & Olivier (Congo), Nicolas & Joe (Kenya), Lexie (Escocia), Mari, Juli, Melisa & su novio (Los Colombianos), Chris (Suiza), Iris, Violeta & sus dos amigos (Corea Sur), Antonio (Francia) & Su amigo (Austria), Eric & Peter (Estados Unidos), Michael (Noruega) & su primo (Colombia) y los Alemanas. Me alegre porque tengo amigos buenos en mi vida y mi cumple paso muy rico.
MUCHISIMO GRACIAS A TODOS

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!Por Fin – A Very Cold Beer after 649 stairs, We deserved it!

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As usual, so much as happened since the last blog. From going to Peter’s house party and hanging out at Jeffery’s apartment on a Friday night to sightseeing. We went to see Manuela (she is Juliana’s sister) sing at her schools annual English song festival – she sang one of Rihana’s song and sang very well – am so happy for her because she won out of 17 contestants.

On the 16th, we went to El Penon and Guatape. At el penon, we climbed the rock – 649 stairs, yeah I did it but it was very tiring but once at the peak – the view is stunning, plus we got a very cold beer from some guy from Spain once we got to the peak. Later on we went to Guatape and took a boat ride to the old city which is now covered up with water – the only thing you can see is the peak of the church, on the way there we saw properties belonging to Pablo Escobar that was bombed by the government.

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This past weekend, we went to Santa Fe de Antioquia – the oldest city in Antioquia and we stayed a night at a beautiful hotel called Palma Reina. Santa Fe is very beautiful, very colonial and hot. The hotel we stayed in has a pool which was great, the owner was so nice – he reduced the price for us and gave us free beer. So if you are in Santa Fe de Antioquia – check out the hotel – Palma Reina Hostería, Carrera 7 con Calle 8, the phone number is 8532713.

Finally, I was introduced to a volunteer program – it is a center for adoption, I went there today to be introduced to the kids and they immediately accepted me and were asking a whole lot of questions. I will be starting tomorrow and I already promised the kids that I will tell them about my family and teach them English so I’m looking forward to tomorrow with the kids.

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This Friday, I’ll be 24 years old and I’ll be celebrating it !Por Supuesto!. I’m looking forward to it, we will be going to a Jamaican bar I found while looking for Hooters to have lunch with a friend I met in Cali then to a pure Reggeaton or Hip-Hop discoteca – Vamos a ver.

I still hate my classes, am not learning anything new, the only thing I like about the Nueva Lengua program is my home stay, excursion and off course Britta – my new friend from Switzerland, she is awesome and very pretty. My host parents are so nice and I now know my way around. My home is a 40 minutes walk away from my former University and Juliana house – so yeah I ‘m doing a lot of exercise by walking for 80 minutes almost every day.
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Last week, my nose ring came out while I was sleeping, I tired to put it back but I couldn’t so now I don’t have a rose ring anymore but I’m not upset. Instead I’ll be giving myself with another tattoo for my birthday present……………………….. I’m getting sad again because I’ll be leaving Medellin next week Friday to Cartagena, unlike the last time – I can not come back because I’ll be flying out of Cartagena to Panama in two weeks.

 

Please keep in mind that when coming to Colombia, you have one very BIG RISK…………….

the risk of wanting to stay 

Okay, I had to steal the official slogan from the Colombia tourism department “Colombia – the only risk is wanting to stay”. This is how I feel right now and if I had not bought my ticket, I might have been tempted to make Colombia my home for the next couple of years…………though I would have problems choosing between my two favorite cities -Cali and Medellin!!!!

My 4 month stay has unfortunately come to an end, I leave to begin my Central America adventure for the next 6 months. Colombia has been great and I’m very glad I choose this country……Below are the things that gave me sooooooo much joy and others that irritated me severely…

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The Joyful Memories…………. 
Medellin: I picked this city to start in because I thought it will allow me to settle in easily than the capital and I’m so glad with the decision. My first impression was like -wow, this is just like the States, very developed and modern. The water is even safe to drink and I drank directly from the tap for the first time ever (I always bought bottled water in Houston), the transportation system (Metro, Taxi & Bus) is well organized and efficient, there is always something to do and the night life is awesome. Medellin is also very environmental friendly – there are recycling bin & trash cans almost everywhere in the city, plus the city is close to some of the best get away spots like Guatape, Santa Fe, Manizales & others. Make sure you ride the metro cable at the Acevedo station. What more can you ask for in a city? Medellin has it all!!

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Universidad EAFIT:I was not sure about this decision but very grateful I decided to take Spanish lessons in a university setting instead of somewhere else. This experience has made it possible for me to participate in the Colombia culture, have Colombia friends and much more. The program is so organized and the coordinator -Juan Fernando is so cute and helpful, if you have questions about anything -just ask him & it will be solved. Also with the Spanish program, you can sit in two undergraduate classes to help with your listening skills, be pair up with a conservation partner, get help with DAS, get help with choosing home stay & other accommodation options and meet real Colombians.
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Food & Jugos/Juice: SanChoco is the best meal in my opinion and jugo de Mora (blackberry), de Maracuya (passion fruit), de Lulo, de Tomate (different from the normal ones, these are special breed) and many more are available and they are fresh too. Usually the tipical foods consist of rice, beans, salad and meat/pork/chicken. Also Coca cola Colombiana is great.

Discotecas (In Medellin): wide varieties of places to drink and party in various section of town. Parque Lleras has a lot of Discotecas, bars & restaurant around, Barrio Colombia is also a great spot to party especially if you like Reggeaton & Hip-Hop music, Las Palmas is another section to party in, others are in the Industrial area, Sabaneta and La Estrella area of town. I sure did have fun here.

Host family & Friends: I stayed with two great family while in Medellin, if you are interested in home stay program, contact me and I can forward you any of the two families. Awesome friends both gringos and locals, am glad to have met them. My Colombian friends made it possible for me to appreciate the culture.

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Annoying Things 
Arepa: a staple in Colombia especially common in Medellin however I hated it with a passion. You might like it, so please try it before you make your decision. In Cartagena, they are fatter and have eggs, cheese and meat inside.

Plastic Surgery: OMG, this is like the fashion trend in this country. Okay, it seems like a huge percentage of females has a fake boob and a lot has undergone nose job. I was told by a Colombian friend that girls get that silicone breast while in high school – now for me, that’s plain disgusting.

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Okay, this is my last blog from Colombia the charming, if you ever decide to visit this gorgeous country – keep in mind, you might never leave because the only risk is wanting to stay…………….If you need information on Colombia, feel free to contact me and I’ll be glad to help you if I can.

Now I’m off to Panama and beginning Central America……wish me luck………..

 

Hasta Luego Medellín….Bienvenidos a Bogotá

What a week! It was an emotionally one that I will ALWAYS remember for the rest of my life. On Tuesday we had our final exam for level 5, I didn’t do so well but I passed however I’m still proud of myself because I didn’t study at all. On Wednesday Juliana, Lexie and myself visited the mosque in Medellin – ok it wasn’t a mosque. It’s a house that is used as a mosque – no one was around so we couldn’t get in but I’m still glad we went. Juliana drove us, she is a good driver, and then later we went to exotic tattoo to get piercing – Lexie got her belly button pierced and I got my nose pierced for the second time. It was painful however a lot of people said it looks good on me – guess no pain, no gain.

Thursday, Sarah and Juliana joined us at the belly dancing class – we were about 40mins late, but they had fun and Sarah might continue. During the class, a lady walking on the street was robbed – Que triste! Viviana & Julio (the belly dancing & musical teacher) were convinced to go to my going away party – am glad they came.

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We went to a bar (Carol’s boyfriend bar – Cocos Cocktail), the décor was excellent and the music was the best I ever heard during my stay in Medellin. Am glad Diego showed up – Diego is awesome, he is so responsible and respectful – men like him don’t come often, I glad I met him. Michael showed up with his cousin – it was fun hanging out with him cuz we started Spanish class together but never got the chance to hang out. Peter came, now I like Peter because he is very culturally aware – he knows African is not a f***ing country and knows what ‘Pidgin English’ is. He is simply cool and he can dance too. Sarah from Germany, one of the coolest girls I have ever met – I just knew we would be friends the first time I met her, Chris also came – oh Chris is just precious, first time hanging out with him and he’s cute too. My conservation partner Juan Esteban also came – the night was awesome. The DJ played also of Hip-Hop – Dr Dre, Snoop dog, Ja Rule, Camron and others – if y’all know me, y’all will know I am Hip-Hop. So that made my night, I couldn’t drink – all I had was a bottle of the national beer.
Friday was sad because I had to say good-byes to my friends – the guys from Congo, Kenya & Ivory Coast, Juan Fernando – the Spanish program coordinator, Michael, Diego, Jesus, Juanes, Efi and others. Friday night, we decided to hang out once more – Juliana, NuNu, Son, Lexie, Juan David & Chris, we went to a bar in Parque Lleras for cocktails. It was awesome. Juliana gave me a beautiful earring, Lexie gave me earrings & bracelet and my host mum gave me a wooden craft. I feel sooooooooooooo LOVED! Yes, Lexie I would miss you – sometimes you are very annoying that I wish you would just shut up but all the same you are my sister. Juliana & Sarah – you are just awesome, I don’t get along with lots of females but both of you are one of the coolest people I have ever met….thanks for your sincere friendship. My host family is just great; I will surely miss them.
colo09 2fWell I left lovely Medellin Saturday morning to Bogota – I arrived here at 9.30pm and it was freaking cold. The hostel is in a sort of shitty neighborhood – FARC graffiti is written all over the walls but they hostel seem secured. I just went straight to bed because I was way too tired from the bus journey. Next day, I made friends with most of the people here, I went with Frances (a guy from Canada) to buy wine for his mum and food to cook – the first time I cooked since I arrived at Colombia, we cooked pasta together. Later chatted with Jasmine (partly from Algeria & France), some guys from Mexico, Omar, the girls from Canada, a guy from Switzerland. At night, 6 of us crammed in a taxi went to the T-Zone for drinks and food. I tried a honey beer – tasted way better than other beers and the fries were gigantic. I met this guy from London that knows so much about Nigeria – he knows what Jollof rice, egusi soup, goat meat are and he listens to Fela Kuti – he played the tribute CD at the hostal and the people loved it – Fela Kuti is just the best.

I have concluded Bogota is not as charming as Medellin —- it’s too cold and ugly. I’ll just chill in this hostel till Wednesday or Thursday and go to Cali.
This week – I’m hoping to visit the Pablo Escobar hacienda, spend less money and relax a lot.

 

Senor (Mr), please drive us to Scotland……………..

Ooh what a week! Last week started very unproductive, I was able to convince Sarah, David and Colm about watching the soccer game live. We went to the stadium on Wednesday to buy our tickets -which cost $40 and started making plans for the weekend since it will be my last weekend in Medellin. Belly dancing was great on Thursday; we started learning a new move -more difficult but gracefully.

Friday, we had our oral exam which we all did well – we talked about health problems, my topic was la anemia de célula de hoz (sickle cell). Friday night, I met up with Lexie, Juan David and his sardinos (young) friends for a drink -they left to Club Acropolis but I went to a different club – Club RED – with the Koreans. Friday night has been highly anticipated because it will be the first time hanging out with the precious Koreans. So first it was me and the Koreans chicas – Gayoung (Violeta), HyunJi (Iris), and Eunyoung – we bought a medium bottle of Aguadentes (local alcohol in Colombia- very strong & nasty)- eating popcorn & sliced favored mango (a move I would later regret, my gut warned me not to eat that mango -it had a salty taste to it, but guess what, I ate the whole bowl of it because I didn’t want to drink on an empty stomach) and having fun.

DSC02874colo09 2b Lexie came to join us – we were having a fun girls night out. We ran out of liquor, by this time the Korean guys -Nunu, Choi and Son were already at the club. I was just so happy to party with them especially Son – okay, Son has been in my Spanish class since level 4, he is precious, cute and funny, everybody loves him & I do have a soft spot for him. Nunu is also cute and he dresses so fine. Anyways we asked Lexie to go buy us another drink; guess what she came back with – a large bottle of Aguadentes. This was when the night began, 9 people who had been previously drinking on something now had a large bottle of Aguadentes………

The music was awesome, and we were all having the maximum fun. Choi is a very good dancer -he was showing us how to dance the C-Walk, but off course we were too tipsy to learn. Lexie insisted on climbing up a platform to dance barefooted. Thank God, she didn’t fall.

She later disappeared to the restroom, Juan David went to check up on her but never returned -so I was worried and went to check up on them. Juan David was seating on a couch in the ladies restroom -drunk, and my dear Lexie was crying. With the help of some girl at the club -we persuaded Juan David to go home. I got into the taxi with them and that’s where the title of this week’s blog came about. Juan David was trying to give the cab driver directions to his house, Lexie started telling the taxi driver to ‘drive us to Scotland’ -at that point I just started laughing, it was too funny, you had to be there to appreciate the moment. Anyways we got them home and I headed home – this was around 2.30am. About two hours after I got home, I started vomiting – I vomited about 3 times before 8am. At first I thought maybe because I drank too much, but I was having a sharp sudden pain in the stomach and sweating even though it was cool and raining.

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In short, I couldn’t go to the belly dancing class, I took a shower at 9am so I could feel better, but no I started having diarrhea, still vomiting, and the sharp pain. So everyone is thinking it’s just a hangover but hey guys seriously it wasn’t. Well I managed to get out of the house to meet Lexie at the metro station -we got out after 2 stops because I was feeling fainted, found a shopping mall where I had a vomiting and diarrhea episode. The game was awesome, David got there early and saved us good seats – the energy at the game was spectacular. It’s a shame Colombia lost to Chile -2 to 4, it’s been 15 years since they qualify. However, I’m glad I still went to see the game and supported Colombia. In the space of about 3 hours at the stadium, I had vomited about 12 times -I used Imodium for the diarrhea and it seem to help. When I got home, my host sisters (one a doctor, the other a medical student) gave me a pill for the vomiting and an herbal drink that finally slowed the vomiting and stopped the sharp pain. I’m really appreciative of my amazing friends that were looking after me at the stadium, sending text messages to check up on me and my host family for caring. For the record, I had food poisoning.

I missed the Oktoberfest event that Saturday night but was later told I didn’t miss much. On Sunday, I felt way better – still weak but wayyyyyyyy better! I hung out with Lexie and Sarah at Juliana’s house. Juliana is so cool, she is the coolest Colombian girl I have met here. Today (the 12th) is a public holiday in Colombia – I went to Lexie because they were having a BBQ to celebrate her birthday which is on Wednesday. I love Lexie’s family -they are soooo awesome, when I got to their house, her little brother ran up to hug me. They are so lovely, I’ll surely miss them.

This week will surely be emotional because I’m leaving Medellin by the end of the week. I will be going to Bogota- the capital of Colombia first, then the famous or infamous Cali. Oh, I didn’t go to swimming lessons with Colm because I was scared.

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This week, I’m planning on visiting the museum of modern arts because I got free pass and I heard of a mosque here I want to check out. Now, I got to go because I have a final exam tomorrow……………ciao

 

Otra Chévere Semana (Another cool week)

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.

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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.
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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.

Today, a student -Colm, from Ireland- moved in with my host family, so now we are two students at the house. On Tuesday, we are going for swimming lessons -hope I enjoy it. Belly dancing was awesome -I’m getting better. We’ll be buying tickets to see Colombia vs. Chile this coming week -I’m so excited because it will be my first live football/soccer game.

El Semana de Amor y La Amistad (The week of Love and Friendship)

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.

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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.

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!Chimba Week!

!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.

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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!