If you missed my last post for some reason (like if you aren’t just sitting around all day waiting for Katie’s new blog posts) you may want to scroll down a little and fill yourself in on some recent happenings or you might be a little lost. Or, if you are the adventurous type, just read ahead and use your imagination to fill in the missing information 🙂
On Saturday morning I got up early and headed to the bus station to begin, yet again, a new adventure. I am officially a resident of a costal Colombian city called Santa Marta. It is one of the three main cities where the Peace Corps currently places volunteers in Colombia. It is the smallest of the three cities, but is still a large urban setting with around 400,000 people. I am joining 10 wonderful other volunteers here in Santa Marta (four girls from the group before mine, and six from my group) who do a lot of great work both individually and as a group. I feel really lucky to have the opportunity to work with them. On my first night here they took me out and we had a delicious dinner and some really cheap drinks!
I live in a nice neighborhood and I am really centrally located. I can walk to a mall, an Exito, and a SAO (those last two are large American style super markets). I can also walk into the center where there are lots of restaurants, bars, and other fun things to do (finances allowing) and to a beach (where I am told I should not swim, but it is still pretty!). There are lots of beaches that are all a bus ride away and I am looking forward to exploring some of those once I get settled in.
I am living in an apartment complex that is gated and has a 24 hour security guard so I feel very safe here. I live with an older woman named Cecilia. She is a widow and lived alone in a three bedroom apartment. She rents the other room out to a woman who travels a lot for work and seems to be gone much more than she is home. Cecilia is a retired teacher who worked at SENA for 30+ years. Now she watches TV in the morning and then goes to the casino to play cards from 3pm-9pm every day. It is a very different living situation than I had before in that she is not really a ‘host mom’ figure to me, but plays more of a landlady role. She is still caring, asks me about my day, and sometimes comes and sits in my room just to chat…..but for the first time in Colombia I have complete freedom to do whatever I want. For example I FINALLY bought an AMAZING fan and it has changed my LIFE (you might think I am exaggerating…unless you have lived 8 months on the Colombian coast!). I changed my meal arrangement and I am in charge of all of my own food now which has been great. I will probably get tired of fruit and tuna eventually, but for now I am content 🙂
My school is called IED Simon Bolivar and is located in a corregimiento (I google translated this word and it told me ‘small town’) about a half an hour from where I live called Gaira. I am really happy that although I am living in a big city in a nice neighborhood, I am still able to work in a school where there is a lot of need. Gaira is sandwiched in between an industrial zone and Rodadero (a higher end neighborhood where lots of tourists visit). I started at my school on Tuesday and we had a really productive meeting in terms of discussing expectations and goals for the program. The very next day I worked with the coordinator to establish a schedule and that same day I started working! I will be teaching primary (preschool through fifth grade) Monday through Friday in the morning jornada. Temporarily I will also be teaching nine hours of English in the afternoons to sixth and seventh grade to fill in for a teacher who has yet to show up this year. Olga (my program manager) told them this is okay as long as it is temporary. What they neglected to tell me is that these two groups are two of the most difficult groups in the school….but we started today and things went fine! I feel really good with the way things have started out at this school. I think I clicked with the teachers and administrators right away and I am absolutely amazed that I have a schedule and am working the day after I arrived! It’s a Colombian miracle!
I will update again with pictures as soon as I get unpacked and find my camera! I don’t have internet at my house yet, but I will soon! Also, I FINALLY updated my ‘books’ and ‘contact me/wish list’ tabs on this blog! I have read 49 books since coming to Colombia (I swear I don’t just sit around and read all the time….) and some amazing people have sent me some amazing packages so I took a lot of things off of my list!
I was very sad to leave Bayunca and I still think about the people there on a daily basis, but the spirit and vibe of Santa Marta is so perfect for me I can’t help but feel right at home here. To those of you in Colombia, thanks for all of your support as I made this transition, it was so easy thanks to all of you! And to everyone at home I love and miss you all and now I have a beach at my site so COME VISIT ME!
Until next time……paz y amor.