Did I get your attention with the Fresh Prince lyrics? That really has very little to do with what I am about to say except that I did some relaxing recently…… Anyways, I usually try to avoid posting a ‘here is a play by play of what I did the last few days’ blog post….but that’s exactly what I am about to do because I just worked with five and six year olds for 10 hours and it’s 94 degrees in my bedroom….and that excuses me from coming up with anything witty or funny today 🙂
This past week CII-4 (my group of volunteers) had our ‘Reconnect IST’. On Tuesday we all left our sites and had a week-long conference in Barranquilla. The Peace Corps put us up in Hotel Caribe which is the same hotel we stayed at six and a half months ago when we first arrived to Colombia (which feels like a million years ago!). During the day we had sessions on resiliency, reflection, strategy sharing, classroom management, and of course the usual administrative/safety/health sessions. It was so great to be back together as a whole group. We have an amazing group of people and I am so inspired when I hear all of the wonderful things volunteers are doing in their sites. I had set a goal for myself in the beginning to try and stay in site as much as possible for the first three months and it ended up being easier than I thought it would be since I got to know my family so well and spent so much time with people in my community. It also resulted in the majority of the other volunteers thinking I had fallen off the face of the Earth 🙂 Now that I feel successfully integrated into my site; I am looking forward to spending more time with other volunteers and making more frequent trips into the city. I didn’t realize how much I missed the other volunteers until I saw them last week. I may have said this before, but they are a truly fantastic group of people.
After we finished our sessions each day, we had the evenings free to do whatever we wanted and I took full advantage of being in the city! I saw a movie, went to multiple malls, and ate delicious food. I was introduced to a restaurant called Crepes and Waffles where they have delicious salads, crepes, and pitas. I also had my first Subway in Colombia and even ate some real live Chinese food! I went to the chain grocery stores (Olympica, Exito, Carrulla) and bought all the things I can’t get in site (apples, peanut butter, yogurt that isn’t Bon Yurt with Zucaritas…). I think I drank my body weight in Diet Coke. At the hotel we took hot showers and slept in air conditioning. It was heaven. The conference ended on Friday, but almost everyone stuck around for the VAC (volunteer action committee) meeting the following day. A few other volunteers and I decided to treat ourselves and stay in the hotel for the extra two nights and it was SO worth it. We had the meeting on Saturday afternoon and then in the evening we went to a cute little bar where some of the volunteers played live music and we celebrated two volunteers’ birthdays.
On Sunday everyone got up early and headed back to site. I figured even if I went back early there wouldn’t be time to do laundry (I have to start that at like 6am) and I had all my lesson plans ready for the week. So Colleen and I decided to ‘aprovechar’ the air conditioning in the hotel and somehow managed to convince the hotel staff to let us stay well into the afternoon. We laid in the air conditioning and watched the Kardashians and it was fantastic. Eventually the time came and we packed up our bags and headed back to site. It is an interesting feeling because when I am in site I am very happy and never feel like I don’t want to be there, but after the week of relative luxury I found myself hesitant to go back. After fighting with the Berlinas bus lady, riding on a sub-zero degree bus for an hour and a half, and fighting with the driver to convince him I knew where I was and actually DID want to get off in Bayunca…….I was welcomed back by the majority of my family on the porch waiting for me and immediately felt happy to be home.
This week is kind of a relaxed week as there is no school Wednesday (something with the Secretary of Education) and Friday is the ‘Festival de Dulces’ (not quite sure what that entails…). The afternoon jornada was suddenly canceled today for some kind of assembly where they were praying and singing (again…not exactly sure why). Next week is Semana Santa so we have a week off from school and I am headed out of town on a mini-vaca with some other volunteers. In other vacation related news, I officially have plans to go to Peru this summer with two of my best friends from home and my parents are officially coming for Christmas! All in all, life is good on the Colombian coast!*Question of the week in Bayunca: “Do you like Pope Francisco?” I’m always tempted to reply, “Francisco…that’s fun to say!!” (Elf reference). *Quote of the day: After a lesson on physical descriptions and an in depth explanation of race and skin color and how to appropriately talk about them- Student- “Why is Obama black if Americans are white?” Me- Facepalm
Until next time….paz y amor.
P.S. Check out all of the pictures here. (I’m warning you now….it’s mostly pictures of food….)