We are officially more than half way through our eleven week Pre-Service Training! The days pass slowly but the weeks are just flying by! Here are some highlights from the last few weeks:
I have been to the beach twice now and both times I visited Puerto Colombia. I had heard that this particular beach can be a little dirty and isn’t the best choice of beaches but as this is the closest beach (about a half an hour bus ride) and I had invitations both times I decided to throw caution to the wind and check it out….and I’m glad I did! Was there trash on the beach? Sure. Honestly though, find me a beach that doesn’t have some trash on it….and really a little trash never hurt anyone! The cool breeze from the ocean was a welcomed relief from the constant tropical heat and the water was pleasntly refreshing. The sun is very strong being as we are nearly on the equator and I got a little red after about a half an hour even though I was wearing SPF 100! The first weekend I went with Kerry and her host family to a berutiful house that belongs to a friend of their family. We had fresh fish for lunch and spent the afternoon relaxing in hamocks in the shade. Last weekend our awesome PC safety and security coordinator, Frank, invited us all out to his hotel for a barbeque and a day at the beach. Both beach trips were very relaxing and a nice way to escape the chaos of the city!
Almuerzo con el Rector:
Last week at my practicum school where I am currently teaching our rector (like the principal) approached me and the three other volunteers at the school and invited us to have lunch at his house that Saturday. On Saturday after our Spanish classes we all made our way to his house (after a slight mix up with the address and LOT of busses/walking/sweating). When we arrived we met his family and were welcomed into his beautiful house. We sat in the ‘social room’ which has one open wall which let a nice breeze into the room and had wine (a luxury here), talked, and listened to the chirping of his many exotic little birds hanging in cages above our heads. His daughter studied abroad in Australia for a year and was eager to practice her English with us. It was great to have her there because everyone else was advanced Spanish speakers except for me! We had jugo de maracuya (passion fruit juice), arroz (rice), and ajiaco (a traditional soup with chicken, three types of potatoes, spices, corn, and sour cream). It was so kind of him to invite us to his home and the lunch was one of the best I have had in Colombia!
Last week we switched Spanish classes because in our language program we rotate teachers about every three weeks so that we can be exposed to a variety of teaching methods and different accents. My first teacher was Vanessa and now I have Tatiana. Their teaching styles are very different and lucky for me I love both of them! When we first arrived in Colombia (when I say first arrived I mean like the first or second day) we had language interviews to see what our level of Spanish was. I tested at the basic level in that interview. We had our second interviews last week and I have moved up to intermediate low. I need to be intermediate mid by November to swear in so I am going to continue practicing as much as I can! It is nice to know that I am making at least some progress. I am able to carry on conversations and take care of day to day things….but I still feel pretty lost a lot of the time!! I will get there..poco a poco!
Colombia vs. Paraguay
Last night was the second big futbol game since we have been in Colombia. We got out of classes at 3:15 so we could go watch the game along with everyone else in Barranquilla. Unfortnately with a 3:45 start time, by the time we got to the tiendas/restaurants there were already people spilling into the streets! We walked until we found somewhere less crowded with cheap beers and settled for a tienda in the neighborhood where most of the trainees live. We had some Agulia’s and watched Colombia dominate. Colombia won with a final score of 2-0. We learned a few tidbits here and there from the tienda owner who was clearly thrilled to have a table full of gringas watching the game with him. Afterwards we went back to Caroline’s house to use the bathroom one thing led to another and we ended up meeting all of Caroline’s family, Ashley’s family, and Nate’s family. We walked to an arrepa stand that Caroline recommended and had some delicious stuffed arrepas (cheese, hot dogs, sausage, chicke, and some delicious mystery sauce).
Los Ninos en mi Barrio:
Since about my second week here in my barrios I have noticed some kids down the street who always seem to be around when I am on my way home from classes. There are lots of them from little kids all the way up to teenagers….but a few of them seem to be there every day. They started out by just staring at me as I walked by. Gradually they started waving when I passed. The waving turned into shouting hello/hola. This week they stopped me and wanted to talk. One thing led to another and I now have three new best friends. Maria Valentina is 11, Giovanni is 8, and Emmanuel is 5. I now know that it was no coincidence that they were in the street when I came home every day. Every day they come outside around 4pm and wait for me to walk by so they could wave to me….the lone gringa in my barrio. Maria Valentina also memorized Adele’s ‘Rolling in the Deep’ after she saw me the first time and makes sure to sing it for me every time I see her (I am going to try and get it on camera…its adorable). Now I stop and talk with them every night as I pass their house on my way home. Sometimes after dinner they come over so I can work on English homework with Maria Valentina (who says I can call her Valle if I want to be friends…which obviously I do :)) We sit out on the porch and while I help her practice her English, I practice my Spanish with the boys. I showed Giovanni how to play the game where you try to move your hands before the other person slaps them. I now play that game for about an hour straight each night while simultaneously watching Emmanual who is constantly running around so he doesn’t get hit by a car and teaching English to Valle. And you know what? It is my favorite part of the day : )
We had our final interviews with Olga about our permanent site placements this week. I told her I haven’t changed my mind about anything since my first interview. Luckily I am not strongly opposed to any site which means I will be happy no matter what happens! Next Friday is the big reveal when we find out where we will be living for the next two years….look forward to a post once I find out my fate!
Until next time…paz y amor.
To see all of my photos go here: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152101389845118.906087.784965117&type=1&l=6d4fe5bad8