Saturday, December 16, 2006

Las cuatro fiestas

Colombia, here I come again! For as much as I didn't like vallenato in the beginning, that changed when I could listen to a song and understand the lyrics first-time 'round. Diomedes Diaz, you said it:
Por la rivera se ven
arbustos y cocoteros (bis)
Y los negros pescadores
en canoa vienen ya

Como lanzaban hundiendo
sobre lobo su cañal
Las noches iluminadas
me recuerdan a El Edén
(Por todas las desprendidas)
estrellitas que allá se ven

Rema rema
que va llegando Juan
Rema rema
que va llegando ya
Rema rema
rema ligero Juan
Rema rema
que vas llegando al baile

Que linda la fiesta es
en un 8 de diciembre (bis)
Al sonar del Traqui traqui
que sabroso amanecer
Con ese ambiente prendido
me dan ganas de beber
La pascua que se avecina
anuncia la navidad
Un año nuevo se espera
que dan ganas de tomar

Toma toma
tomate el trago Juan
Toma toma
que vamos a bailar
Toma toma
tomate el trago Juan
Toma toma
vamos a amanecer

Pero que sabrosas son
las fiestas de carnavales (bis)
Con carretas y disfraces
las comparsas vienen ya
con el golpe de tamboras
a la ........
Con la batalla de flores
el desorden se formó
con carrozas y a las reinas
alegran el corazón

Baila baila
baila la cumbia Juan
Baila baila
que llegó el carnaval
Baila baila
baila la cumbia Juan
Baila baila
Vamo' a carnavalear

Que linda la fiesta es
en un 8 de diciembre (bis)
Al sonar del Traqui traqui
que sabroso amanecer
con ese ambiente prendido
me dan ganas de beber
La pascua que se avecina
anuncia la navidad
Un año nuevo se espera
que dan ganas de tomar

Toma toma
toma el trago Juan
Toma toma
que vamos a bailar
Toma toma
tomate el trago Juan
Toma toma
vamos a gozar

Por la rivera se ven
arbustos y cocoteros (bis)
Y los negros pescadores
en canoa vienen ya
Como lanzaban hundiendo
sobre lobo su cañal
Las noches iluminadas
me recuerdan a El Edén
(Con todas las desprendidas?)
estrellitas ya se ven

Rema rema
Rema ligero Juan
Rema rema
que vamos a llegar
Rema rema
rema ligero Juan
Rema rema
que voy llegando al baile
I've never seen what he sings about, but the spirit of the song brings back good memories and makes me excited to go on this trip. Although I'm going to miss family and friends back in Ohio, and new additions to my life in El Salvador, I'm thrilled to get to be a part of the holiday season in Colombia this year. Now, if only I could stay until it's carnaval time!

Monday, November 27, 2006

A little Caliche

Caliche is Salvadoran Spanish. Everyplace has it's own way of saying things; here they take Nawat words and some crazy uses of English and put it together, resulting me having to learn a whole other dialect! I have to be careful here, too...some things that were just fine in Colombian costeñol are most definitely not okay to say here. Here's some fun Caliche for y'all:

cipote, cipota- young boy or girl
choto- for free (like all the concert at San Miguel's carnaval)
chucho- dog
cabal- eactly, certainly, yeah that's right
chivo- cool (same as chévere, bacano, etc.)
guanaco- salvadoreños might use this to refer to themselves, although it could also be used in a negative sense
paja- lie
garrobo- iguana
- an interjection used to stress an affirmative statement
púchica- a nice way of saying damn or the barranquillero favorite, hijo de puta
chulón / chulona- naked, nude, unclothed; there's a statue on Boulevard Constitución in San Salvador fondly refered to as La Chulona

There's also a lot of veggies that are called by their Nawat names: ejote=habicuelas=frijoles=green beans, elote=mazorca=corn on the cob. And so on.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Carnaval de San Miguel

I went to San Miguel's Carnaval yesterday. People were trying to tell me that it was bigger and better than Barranquilla's, which was most definitely not true, but it was still fun. I met up with the Fulbright guy and a huge group of Peace Corps people later on, but I think I actually had more fun helping decorate the CCS carroso. The parade started around 8, with floats for each of the neighborhood queens, amusingly named Yesica I, Yanira II, etc. After that, the streets were shut off with stages for 42 different musical groups. I got to see Grupo Niche, with some of my favorite Colombian salsa, and a huge number of Mexican/Salvadoran style cumbia groups. It really amazed me, though, that at the Niche concert, no one was dancing except the crazy group of gringos! People were singing along and all...can't wait to see them again in Cali for the feria, where everyone will be dancing and singing! Check out La Prensa Grafica and El Diario de Hoy for pics, since I didn't take my camera along.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving Update

The Cold. Cold nose, fingers...first time in a year and a half that I've worn closed-toe shoes to work. Current temp at 11:00 am is 70°F. Temp last night at about 11:00 pm was 55°F. It sounded like a nasty, windy November day in Ohio. I most definitely didn't want to get out of bed. People assure me that this isn't normal and that it will go away soon. Hope so!

Called some friends in Barranquilla last night and it was pouring...a salvadoreño friend had told me that it was raining somethin crazy in Colombia. Looked on El Heraldo, found this pic of the fabulous Calle 84 arroyo sweeping away a'd think they'd learn. Can't believe I actually miss arroyos! Seems that there's crazy, abnormal weather in a lot of places right now.

The Work. Everything's going well, although I sometimes feel like it's all I do. I've been helping out with some workshops for the ministry of education on the weekends, went and gave a workshop on teaching language through functions at a university in Santa Ana. The projects I have at CCS are progressing, albeit a little slower than I'd hoped. Students have started coming quite regularly to the conversation clubs. I'll be going to present on blogging and peer/self evaluation at the National Conference for Teachers of English in Costa Rica in January.

The Play. I've been in San Miguel two weekends this month, and am going back this weekend for the carnaval migueleño. People there are more relaxed, and in my opinion, more friendly than in San Salvador. It's warm, there's an active volcano, and people take me out to dance. Not to say that I haven't met some nice people here, but not like San Miguel. I started karate lessons last week (me, three nine or ten year olds, and a fourteen year old) and salsa lessons this Monday and Tuesday (L.A. style with the rueda, and ). I also went to the Marine Ball, but it was a little too pupy for me. All I really require is some hole-in-the-wall place with great music that doesn't require me to pay a cover or dress up in anything more than jeans! The best part was getting home and not being able to get in the apartment cause the lock broke (long story, not my fault)! Thanksgiving was pretty uneventful...just a little lunch at work and several days looking for cheap pecans, which I never did find, so I wouldn't have to pay $20 for a pie! A friend took me out later on to los planes de rendero overlooking the city for some tasty pupusas.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Ibagué Ibagué

My trip to Bogotá and Ibagué was a welcome break after a couple of weeks of a lot of work. I went to present on blogging in the language classroom at ASOCOPI's (like TESOL) annual conference. It was the first time I'd presented, and it went well. E and I had sixteen people there, which was fine by me.
Ibagué was beautiful! The rumor that there's a lot of good-looking guys there seems to be true, but at any rate doesn't compare to the paisajes.

I got to
Bogotá on Thursday afternoon, after an extremely unstressful flight from San Salvador through San Jose, which I didn't really expect. The lack of security in San Salvador surprised me after the US and Colombia. They x-rayed the bag I checked and then the only other thing I had to do was walk through one screening thing where I swear they didn't even look at the screen for me or the ladies in front of me who had their huge boxes of Pollo Campero to take with them (just like the barraquilleros taking boxes of Dunkin Donuts back from Bogotá). Thursday night I had dinner, then another dinner with some friends from Barranquilla.

Back on Colombian time, my idea of leaving for Ibagué at 8 in the morning on the Friday slowly turned into 1:00 or 1:30, after running into a friend for breakfast and then walking around in the rain for no real purpose, but certainly enjoying it! The bus ride was supposed to be 3.5 hours long, but turned into around 8 hours with all the accidents on the rode there. Two-lane highway, lots of bogotanos fleeing the city for the puente weekend, and lots of other running towards the city for the same reason makes for lots of fun! Among the 7 or so accidents I saw, there was a truck that had dumped its load of empty Aguila bottles al l over the highway, making a mess of broken glass, and a semi that had somehow managed to completely lose its back axle, an amazing feat, seeing how the traffic couldn't have been moving any faster than 35 mph in most places! Turned out those who flew from
Bogotá to Ibagué, all of what, twenty minutes in the air, had to wait around just as long in the airport. I got there, had some nice, greasy empanadas, then went out to dinner with more barranquilleros. We went someplace that had arepas de choclo (kinda like cornbread), which were the first Colombian arepas that I can actually say I liked so much that I wanted to eat them again.

The conference itself was very laid-back, which I appreciated greatly. Go to session, coffee break, talk, maybe go to a plenary, coffee break, lunch, session, coffee break, talk, and so on. I miss that! I got to see a lot of friends, since everyone seemed to have some sort of conference in Bogotá or Manizales. We ended up hanging out with a group of people from our conference in Ibagué, that we randomly found at a bar while we were waiting for some other friends to show up. This group didn't know each other before the conference (from the capital, around Bucaramanga, Buenavista, and others), nor did they really know us (except for the guy that'd seen Kathleen's presentation at another conference and had gone to it again), but they were so friendly! Sometimes it takes moving away from a place to appreciate certain aspects of it that you might not have even noticed before. I noticed the friendliness and openness while I was wandering around Bogotá, too. I had some fabulous conversations with vendors on the street.

I went back to Bogotá on Sunday afternoon with Pablo and Jorge...much better this time at about 4.5 hours. We went out to a place that had salsa that night and met up with yet more people from Barranquilla. It'd been too long since I'd last danced! The change in altitude beat me up, though; I could only get through about two songs with Ernest before I had to sit down and rest. Monday was spent shopping, filling up my bags with things that I can't get in El Salvador, like maracuyá and lulo pulp, mix to make sancocho and ajiaco, milo, and panela, cheap good café or that are way cheaper in Colombia, like my new hamaca. In all, it was a great trip, both to give me new ideas for work, see friends, and just relax for a while!

My place in San Salvador

Trying out the new Picasa web on the photo to see the album.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Thinking back...Lower Price Hill and Sister Marie

I had the pleasure of living with Sister Marie Werdmann at 2108 Hatmaker during the year I worked as an AmeriCorps volunteer at LPHCS. Before that time in my life, I don't think I'd ever even talked to a nun, let alone dream of living with one. I've learned much from Sister Marie in the little time that I've known her.

I remember her telling me her dream of turning the front room of the house into a small cafe, a quiet place for the women in the neighborhood to come relax and find some peace in their hectic lives. She was at meetings and community events continuously, or out visiting neighbors, students, and friends to see how they were doing. I often wondered how, at twenty-four, I couldn't keep up with her!

Sister Marie helped teach me what it means to serve others. We spent a lot of time that year in the back yard, taking care of the garden and the flowers. She was never upset when the crows ate all the veggies or kids would borrow the tomatoes.

Sister, you'll be missed in Lower Price Hill, but know that your many works and love have left a permanent mark on me and others whose lives you have touched.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Despedida de Barranquilla

I finally got internet at home, so I can now go back and post all those pics from the last couple months that I haven't had the time to get around to. These are from August 11 and 12, my last days in Barranquilla.

Where I live and work

Isn't Google Earth great?! Top yellow circle is where I work, the bottom one is where I live. The big oval in the lower left-hand corner is the stadium, or at least one of them!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

More on life in San Salvador

Where am I at right now? San Salvador. From there, it’s about 2 hours to San Miguel, where I’ll be working the last couple of months I’m here. Supposedly San Miguel has a carnival in November…we’ll see. I'm also headed to Metapán this weekend to see what CCS is doing there, which is a little over two hours away, right on the border with Guatemala.

Daily life in San Salvador still makes me feel like I'm living in the US again, especially after this past year, but I'm slowly getting used to it. I'm slowly but surely getting to see other parts of the city. I'm still amazed at the lack of vacations and free time, and at how much time people spend working here.

Lately I’ve been keeping myself fairly busy, although it’s completely with work. I taught the teacher training course students eliciting this week and last week, which was fun. I miss teaching on a regular basis! Next month, though, I'll have at least one regular course during the week. I went to the embassy on Friday to meet people from different English-teaching institutions in the city, and was once again required to speak in front of a group in Spanish. I continue to find it extremely amusing that I speak more Spanish when I go to the US embassy than I do anywhere else here! I was also sick a good part of the week, which didn’t help me any in being productive.

I’ve gotta shape up, though, in getting stuff done. I go to Ibagué next Thursday to present for the first time at a conference! But, I haven’t finished my presentation yet, or really gotten very far with the article I'm writing to go along with it. My plane tickets finally got here, about two weeks late, so at least I've got that going for me. I'm flying with Avianca (yea, good frequent flyer program and stylish flight attendants). This trip is going to be a blast. Alex and Sarah are coming down to Manizales for some AEISIC thing, Grandfield’s going to a conference in Bogotá, some Uninorte people will be in Ibagué, too, and many other people I know from Barranquilla are going to be in Bogotá! I can’t wait!

Other interesting facts that I've learned this week: there’s apparently a crying ghost in the girl’s bathroom at CCS. Also, my apartment is close enough to the stadium that I should be able to hear Marc Anthony singing tonight for free!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Joya del Pacífico

It was nice to see the Pacific again after four years. Too bad I didn't learn how to surf while I was in Zihuatanejo! This place I went to on Saturday was on the Costa del Sol, about an hour from San Salvador.

Monday, September 11, 2006

In San Salvador

So, I’ve been at my new job at the Centro Cultural Salvadoreño for three weeks now. I’m enjoying having the time to work on projects, but I’m also missing teaching all the time and being up, moving around. I just moved into my apartment on Saturday…pretty nice! It was wonderful to finally be able to take all my clothes and stuff out of my suitcases and really know what I’d thrown in them in my quick 24 hours in Ohio. I keep thinking that, oh, where did I put this or that? And usually, I left it in Colombia, or I said, no, that weighs too much. It looks like I’ll be in San Salvador for about six months, and then the rest of time I’ll be in the eastern part of El Salvador in San Miguel. Good news is that the whole country is about the size of Massachusetts, so it’s really only two or so hours away.

From now on, I’m going to write my entries in English and in Spanish. We’ll see how long it takes before I get lazy.

US Franchises I’ve Seen So Far, the obvious and not-so-obvious: McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Burger King, KFC, Wendy’s, Subway, Tony Roma’s, Cinnabon, Office Depot, Payless Shoes, Avon, Dell, Little Cesar’s…and Wal-mart is coming soon. There’s Hot Pockets and Lean Cuisine in the grocery, as well as Starbucks Frappacchinno and Welsh’s juice. Fruit is imported (what??!!). What, that people consume, is actually from El Salvador? Good question.

This is not to say that I don’t like San Salvador. When the sun’s out and the pollution a bit lower, the surrounding mountains and volcanoes are beautiful. It’s winter, or the rainy season, so it’s cloudy much of the time, and it rains at least once a day. People are super friendly. I simply wish that the consumeristic way of life had never touched here. I wish that people made their juice in the blender instead of taking the “easy” way out and buying it ready-made. I miss being able to buy “real” juice for $1.500 pesos. I had to go out and search for a place that sells licuados and jugos near my house. The señora that runs the place laughs at me because I’m there almost every day. I asked her if there were other places close that sell juice, and she said no, good point. There was a 5.0 earthquake the other afternoon. It’s certainly been interesting!

San Salvador is very different from Barranquilla and the Colombian coast, and from the country as a whole. For me, it’s so quiet here. I end up putting on my salsa or meringue or vallenato (she listens to vallenato!) every night in order to be able to sleep. No Heraldo o aguacate guy out yelling in the street at 5:30 in the morning. There are supposedly bread sellers around, but I’ve yet to see or hear them. No calling for domicilio to the tiendita around the corner for three eggs, a tomato, and an onion. Sigh…the things I miss! But with time, I’ll find those little details here as well. For now, working, missing friends, looking forward to meeting new people.

Spanish version coming soon!

Friday, July 28, 2006


I've got just about two weeks left here in Barranquilla before I'm off to DC then to El Salvador, which is hard to believe. Even after a rather rough first eight months here, I was ready to come back and stay for another year. I'm enjoying my last days here, though, and who knows, maybe I'll be back next year. I had a quality tear gas and mob madness experience at the Junior vs. Nacional game last weekend, as well as many equally quality experiences going out with costeños. I've met a lot of fabulous people in the past few weeks; where were they before?! After an uneventful stay in Ohio, coming back to Bogotá to spend a couple of days with Adele, Alex, Sarah, and Ernest was a relief, even though American (I'll never pay to fly with them again) lost my bags in Miami and I froze in my flip flops for three days before they were able to find them. There's a wonderful breeze many days here lately, which is quite a contrast from what I remember when I got here last July. It scares me to think of how hot San Miguel will be! Barranquilla's not a cool place by any means, but San Miguel is much warmer.

I'm hoping that my post in El Salvador will allow for a little travel time, since Mexico, Argentina and Providencia are calling my name. And Germany and India, to visit all of the people that I've met this year. This weekend I'm taking spontaneous trip to Venezuela with a friend who needs to cross the border for visa reasons, so at least I'll be able to say that I've been there!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Up Next?

I'm back in Ohio for the time being, and what changes are up ahead! At least I think so... I got an email from the ELF program (organized through Georgetown University and the U.S. Department of State) saying that I've been offered a job in El Salvador with the Centro Cultural Salvadoreño on Tuesday. It was completely unexpected and it's been hard trying to decide what to do. I've already said that I would go back to Barranquilla for another year. So much for making plans, je je! I left a lot of my things there, bought my plane ticket back to Bogotá, made my appointment with the consulate; in short, I've prepared myself mentally to go back and am actually looking forward to it. But this job offer is one that I shouldn't turn down. There's an enormous amount of room to use my experiences in the work there, as well as abundant learning opportunities for me. They gave me a little over two days to decide whether or not I want the position. Speaking to two lovely women that work with the program today made me feel much better, as well as all of my friends and family who told me to go for it. It's just hard to have in your mind that you're going one place and then to all of the sudden be going somewhere else, somewhere that you don't know a lot about and where you know no one. I'm becoming accustomed to the idea, however, and I think that in the end, it will be a wonderful experience! I'll have to change the name of the blog, though.

I can't say that El Salvador has ever been on my list of countries to visit, even though I know it has a lot to offer, but then again, neither was Colombia. And here I am, wanting to go back. I'm not sure I'm ready to live through that complete period of culture shock again, to make friends again, to learn the ins and outs of a culture. In a year in Barranquilla I didn't come close to accomplishing any of this. But as my wise Canadian roommate said before she left in April, "you want to come back here?" Yes, I do. Why, not sure yet. I'm ready to not move every year, let alone every 5 months, which is what will happen with the ELF job. One reason that Barranquilla is sounding good. Even my month at home has been hard. I'm feeling restless, wanting to be in my own place. I've been going all over the place, though, since I've been home, which doesn't help much. Various parts of Ohio, Missouri, to Chicago in a couple of days to go back to Colombia. Will it be to stay? I have to decide by tomorrow afternoon.

Good things that happened today, as I'm not sure yet whether all of this is good or bad or what: found out that bloguear is a verb!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Trabalenguas / Tongue Twisters

The eleventh graders at IEA taught me these trabalenguas last week.

El cielo está enladrillado quien lo desenladrillará el desenladrillador que lo desenladrille buen desenladrillador será.

Si Gustavo gustara del gusto que gusta mi gusto yo gustaría del gusto que gusta Gustavo, pero como Gustavo no gusta del gusto que gusta mi gusto, yo no gusto del gusto que gusta Gustavo.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Fruit Update

Fruits that I still need to try:

Remolacha: saw it in the grocery yesterday for the first time. Looks like a beet. Yum, beet juice...

Huchuva or uchuva: looks like little yellow tomatos. Tastes good on salads and in jelly. Not so sure about the juice version.

Chontaduro: was told that it comes from "el valle." Which valle? And why doesn't anyone know what it tastes like?

This is some strange looking fruit I bought in Bogota. Tastes like maracuya, aka passion fruit. Was told its name, but don't remember. Does it start with a "c"?

I bought the maracuya-like fruit at this market in Fontibon, in Bogota. Barranquilla has nothing like this. Which makes me sad.

And finally, this is nispero (accent over the "i" which I'm too lazy to figure out how to type in...just like the "a" in Bogota). Tastes like yumminess!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Wimpy Burger

Were they trying to make me laugh when they name this place? Who wants a Wimpy burger?!

One month left

I've really not been good about posting on this blog. There's still pictures I need to put up from Semana Santa travels and I have written in who knows how long. The semester is almost over here; exams start the middle of next week. Time has gone quickly since I came back in January. When I first thought about looking for work in Latin America, I figured that things would be more laid back, especially coming out of a masters program. Was I ever wrong! It's true that time moves differently here, but I feel like the amount of time that I put into work here is significantly more than in Ohio. I'm an efficient person, but when you're surrounded by people who are not worried about being as efficient, it makes it impossible. Waiting in bank lines, doing crazy paperwork, riding the bus, going to meetings, grading all adds up to a long day. I sometimes feel like I haven't used my time here wisely, but then I remember, what time?! It's taken me 9 months to find a church that I feel comfortable with, that I want to go to every week. And it's taken the same amount of time to find volunteer work. So at least in the end, even if I don't come back here, I can say I was truly content for about a month. Barranquilla's not my favorite city in the world (or second, or third...), but I'm okay here. Now the question is this: is okay enough?

I've started going on Fridays to teach at the Escuela Experimental, which is a high school for intelligent kids that otherwise wouldn't have the resources to go to a good school. They don't have to pay anything to attend the school, which is grades 6 through 11. The teachers are mostly college professors. And get this...the students at the end know English and French well, plus German, Italian, Russian, Greek, and Latin. And no, they don't get to choose a language, they all take all of them. It's crazy. They're studious, curious, respectful, motivated, responsible, and so on. It makes me feel relieved to go there to teach after a week with my Uninorte students, many of which are not many of those things (not to say all, but certainly a good number).

What else is going on here? I'm taking casino style salsa lessons (fun, but frustrating sometimes). Heather, my lovely Canadian roommate, left two weeks ago, so the apartment is a little lonely. I went to Cartagena again last weekend with some friends and saw the kind of house that I've dreamed about living in since I've been here (picture to come). And that's about it. Colombia's presidential elections are at the end of the month. I just got an email from the US Embassy today warning me that there might be trouble. Maybe in Bogota, but not here. The biggest action has been the little earthquake that we had on Monday afternoon (the tree in my office swayed back and forth, but that was it). The birthday is just a little over a week away and what would I like? To know where I'm going to be working come July!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Valle de Cocora and Salento

Parque Tayrona

Too bad I don't have more long weekends to spend here! Parque Tayrona is east of Santa Marta on the Atlantic coast of Colombia. I spent the night in a hammock where I could hear the waves...

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Semana santa travels- Part I

So, the plans to go to the Amazon unfortunately didn't pan out. Saturday and Sunday were spent with Heather in Parque Tayrona. I liked Tayrona a lot, especially since you can't really be outdoors and do outdoors kinds of things in Barranquilla. Now I'm convinced that I need to buy camping equipment so I can do these kinds of things more often. Sunday night I flew out of Santa Marta to my present location. At the moment, I'm here in Bogota, which isn't all that bad, but it is cold and rainy and has ginormous traffic jams. All of this leads up to the fact that I haven't really seen or done that much here. Yesterday was walking around the Candelaria area, feeling a little sick, and then to the Escaleras, where it started pouring and took over 2 hours to get back to where I'd left from. Today was Monserrate and the Museo de Oro. So, not much achieved here. Not even any good, cheap shopping. Oh well. Tomorrow I'm headed to Manizales, in the eje cafetero. It's somewhere between 6 and 8 hours from here on bus, depending on who you talk to. I hope (rather pessimistically) that it won't be as cold as Bogota!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Thank you, immigrants

In light of all of the discussions concerning immigration in the US right now, please take a minute to listen to Richard Rodriguez of NPR's All Things Considered thanks immigrants for the many, many jobs that they do.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Shakira Statue

This made international news! I've yet to see the statue, which is supposedly here someplace, but I think I'd be happier if I never do. It's not as bad as I thought it would be. I'd imagined one of those bronze-like statues (Simon Bolivar, Benito Juarez, los niños heroes, etc.), all traditional and old-style. I still hold that there must be other people who do good work in this city that deserve a statue before Shakira, though. Too bad when I asked people, they couldn't think of names. This is the kind of statue that goes in an amusement park or something like that, not out on the street in front of a university (unless she went there, which she didn't), which is what they want to happen here.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

I'll comment on this later...

Sin definir sitio para escultura de Shakira

por Martha Guarin R.

Para acordar lo concerniente a la instalación de la escultura de Shakira, que desde el lunes se encuentra en la bodega 15 de la Sociedad Portuaria, ayer se llevó a cabo una reunión convocada por la Primera Dama del Departamento, Elizabeth de Grijalba.

A nombre de la cantante barranquillera Shakira habló su asistente personal, Anuar Zapata.
También asistieron, Zandra Vásquez, directora del Centro Cultural Cayena de la Universidad del Norte, y a nombre de Planeación Departamental, Claudia Da Acuña. Además, el acuarelista y arquitecto Roberto Ángulo, el cantante y compositor Martín Madera y otros personajes ligados al mundo cultural y urbanístico.

La Primera Dama del Departamento anunció que se determinó crear un comité de estudio para que estudie lo referente a la colocación de la escultura. El mismo lo conformarían representantes de planeación de la Gobernación y del Distrito; representantes de las universidades con programas de arquitectura e ingeniería, la Fundación Carnaval de Barranquilla, sector privado y Cámara de Comercio, quienes serían los que financiarían el proyecto.

La directora del Centro Cultural Cayena de la Universidad del Norte, Zandra Vásquez, declaró que “la Universidad, su rector y la institución en general se sienten complacidos con la sugerencia de Shakira de que en su glorieta más cercana se instale su escultura”.

Precisó que no son ciertos los rumores en el sentido que la Universidad se opone a tal deseo de Shakira. “Se trata de predios públicos y por ningún motivo nos oponemos. En un comienzo se dijo que se planeaba colocar allí una obra artística con motivo de los 40 años de la Universidad pero no tenemos contrato aún con ningún artista y por lo tanto el anhelo de Shakira no altera ninguno de nuestros proyectos”.

“He sugerido que se invité a las reuniones al comité técnico del proyecto de Monumentos Públicos para que participe en las conversaciones. Allí hay ingenieros, arquitectos, ambientalistas y expertos en la materia .
La Primera Dama del Departamento dijo que lo que se busca es llegar al mejor acuerdo para que la obra de Shakira se proyecte a futuro con toda la altura que altura, ante los ojos del resto del mundo

“No nos podemos equivocarnos en su ubicación”

La Primera Dama del Departamento, Elizabeth de Rodado manifestó que la escultura “se convierte en uno de los monumentos mas importantes que se van a tener el Departamento del Atlántico y Barranquilla y por tanto hay que hacerle honor, y no podemos equivocarnos en el lugar donde se vaya a colocar”.
“Para el Departamento es muy importante tener un escultura de Shakira y hay que buscar un lugar en donde pueda admirar en toda su dimensión para que la gente interactúe con ella, tomándose fotos, admirándola o disfrutando cerca a ella”.

“Hay que pensar en un sitio amplio, porque la obra para nosotros debe ser tan importante como lo es la Torre Eiffel para el mundo”.

Sugirió que se colocara en un sitio bello, como un parque en donde se puedan desarrollar eventos culturales y actividades que atrapen la atención no sólo del orden local o nacional, sino internacional. “Además porque estamos en la ciudad que tiene uno de los patrimonios más valiosos de la humanidad, como es el Carnaval”
Explicó que existe un ambicioso plan para crear un centro de negocios –proyectado por la Cámara de Comercio y la Gobernación- en donde se podría situar la obra. Además que se contempla la posibilidad de que sea en la Plaza de la Paz, y que las posibilidades también están abiertas para quienes tengan lotes o lugares donde se pueda situar la escultura.

Just skimming this article made me ill...I'll translate the good parts and make my comments later, once I've recovered from how utterly disturbing this is.

So, here we go. Why would anyone want to erect a statue of a 28 year old pop singer? Has this city nothing better to offer? And why would anyone want to put such a statue in front of a private university where the statuee didn't even go?

TESOL in Tampa

I took a small break from Barranquilla last week to go to Tampa, Florida for the TESOL convention. It was a rather expensive trip, but most definitely worth it! I ended up renting a car in Miami and driving up, which would have been great except for the horrible, horrible traffic between Naples and Ft. Meyers. I loved being able to drive again, something that I miss here, mostly because of the freedom that it gives you. The convention was wonderful, which was rather unexpected, as I've only been to smaller conferences. Everything I went to was quality, though! I hope that I can come up with something to present so that I can go to next year's in Seattle. These TESOLers, they can go from 7:00 in the morning to 10:00 at night going to workshops and presentations and meetings. It's crazy! Thankfully, after a week of this, I feel motivated again to do research and continue studying. The only downside other than spending all of my tax refund check in six days was the fact that the weather was beautiful and I had to stay inside all day. I did get to the beach on Sunday. This left me feeling rather depressed, though, since I went to the gorgeous De Soto beach outside of St. Petersburg and I knew that I had to get on the plane the next day to come back to the not-so-nice beaches of Puerto Colombia. I don't ever remember having seen sand that white before in my sugar. I also came back to piles of work; I spent the whole next weekend and then some grading midterms, essays, and blogs. I'm already ready for another break from Barranquilla, so it's a good thing that semana santa is coming up soon. Ideas for the vacation week: Leticia/Amazonas, the eje cafetero, Panama, San Andres and Providencia (too many people will be there though), Quito, Mexico City (too expensive from here, but I can dream, right?)...

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Quote from a student

I don't think the results of the research about the soap operas are true. I think watching soap operas makes you stupid. And as we know stupid people are happier than itelligent ones.

How true is that! Ha!


Finally...the Mud Volcano

The Friday of Carnival week Ernest, Evalina (Heather's friend visiting from Canada), and I took off early to go to Totumo, the infamous mud volcano. It's about 45 minutes from Uninorte in taxi, which ended up being a little expensive, but it was worth it to escape from the city for a little bit before the craziness of the weekend.

It was certainly a strange experience. The landscape is very desert-like, surreal in some places. Totumo really looks more like a large ant hill than anything else. You climb up a set of rickety little stairs to get to the top. And once you get in, you just kind of float. In a nothing that feels like something. It was funny; I couldn't get my legs to sink down into the mud, but nor did I really want them to! The mud itself is supposed to work wonders on your skin, but I can't say I've seen much difference, other than smelling like sulphur for the whole trip back. I wasn't daring enough to stick my whole head in like most of the other people did, but at least I was brave enough to get in!

Once you get out of your mud bath, there are ladies waiting for you to help you wash off in the (very nasty) cienaga. That was an experience in itself! I'm trying out Bubbleshare here...I'll add more photos to the album later.

This album is powered by

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy V-Day

I was going to do a bookblog, and I probably still will, but in the spirit of Valentine's Day...

This is from one of Shakespeare's contemporaries, Michael Drayton.
Click here to listen to my reading (my first podcast!)


Three sorts of serpents do resemble thee:
That dangerous eye-killing cockatrice,
The enchanting siren, which doth so entice,
The weeping crocodile—these vile pernicious three.
The basilisk his nature takes from thee,
Who for my life in secret wait dost lie,
And to my heart sendst poison from thine eye:
Thus do I feel the pain, the cause, yet cannot see.
Fair-maid no more, but Mer-maid be thy name,
Who with thy sweet alluring harmony
Hast played the thief, and stolen my heart from me,
And like a tyrant makst my grief thy game:
Thou crocodile, who when thou hast me slain,
Lamentst my death, with tears of thy disdain.

Not that the traditional sonnet is merely sugary. In Shakespeare, as in film comedy, conflict and even insult can be forms of courtship. Here is Shakespeare's contemporary Michael Drayton, with one of the most engaging, meditative first lines in all literature:

Friday, February 10, 2006

Podcasting Delayed...A Little

Oh I miss your 24 hour a day fast Internet connection. Sigh. I'm lucky to have what I do here, but I miss my play time, the time to learn how all this new techie stuff works. I need to figure out how to make video files small enough that I can post them on my blog and how to convert existing files into a file format that is smaller as well. For the time being, I'll remain a lurker in the collaborative blogging session! I didn't end up having a spare minute to do my first podcast today, but I plan to give it a try this weekend. Tired of putting these things on my to-do list every week and they never get done. During one of my classes that I taught in the lab this week, I was happy to see that one of my fellow teachers sitting in the back of room was creating his own blogs and asking questions right along with my students!

On another note, I'm also waiting to see if they have much of the 2006 Winter Olympics on tv here. We get a couple of sports channels with the cable, but they only seem to play soccer games! I did get to see some of the U.S. figure skating finals last week, so I still remain hopeful.

Info that I enjoyed finding from this week's blog06 suggestions:

  • What is a blog? If you have any doubts, check out The Weblog Project.
  • A Podcast on How to Podcast. This was very helpful. I'm going to try to make my first audio entry later today.
  • Collaborative Blogging I need to join this.
  • Uwe's Bookblog entries. This week's entry is Bill Bryson's (who I love) Notes from a Small Island. This motivates me to try making my own bookblog. Barranquilla doesn't have a culture of readers, so anything I can do to help my students become more interested in reading would be a step in the right direction.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Monday, February 06, 2006

Weather and Customs

It was suggested this week in the course I'm participating in that we discuss the climactic conditions where we live and the impact this has on local culture and customs. Beginning at the end of November here in Barranquilla, there's what they call a "breeze", but it's been more like a strong wind! It was certainly a nice change after the heat, but it doesn't last for long (typically through Carnavales, which is at the end of February). This past week there were a couple of days where the breeze went missing, but thankfully it's back again.

People here often tell me that the costeños, especially the barranquilleros, are "warm, happy, friendly, sociable" people, due in some part to the climate. On the other hand, they label the cachacos (people from the interior of the country, like Bogotá) as "cold, distant, unfriendly, less sociable." Personally, I've not found that to be true of the people that I know from the interior, but then again, my personality is in some ways much more like theirs! I don't mind the going out to dance and drink lifestyle once in a while, but I've no interest in doing that every weekend (a slight problem during Carnavales time that we're in now, since that's all anyone is doing!). Carnaval is all about spreading the happienss. This is a picture of the Garabato parade that I went to last weekend. Besides the dancing, the main event was throwing water, cornstarch, and shaving cream at your friends!

I've heard the same from my Ecuadorean friends--that coastal people from places like Guayaquil are happier and friendlier than people from the colder mountainous regions like Quito. Since I've not yet been to these places, I don't really have an opinion of my own on this subject. I wonder if anyone's ever done a study comparing the coastal cultures in Latin America (let me know if you've heard of one). I've certainly found similarities in the costeño cultres of Caribbean Colombia and those that live on the Pacific Costa Grande in México (where I previously lived and worked).

Going back to how climate affects life in Barranquilla, the Atlantic coast of Colombia is also one of the safest places in the country. I don't worry about walking around by myself in Barranquilla or travelling to other coastal cities like Santa Marta or Cartagena. There's no fighting here, and not near as much crime. That's certainly a plus. But, with the happiness of the people here and the realative safeness of life here also comes the disorder! I'll leave that discussion for later, though.

Friday, February 03, 2006

RSS, Vlogs, and Audioblogs

I'm happy to have discovered Bloglines this week through blog06. I'd heard of RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds before, but I've never had the time to play around to figure out exactly what they are until now. Hopefully it will let me keep a little more up-to-date with all of the blogs and websites I try to read every day! I feel guilty for not having time to regularly read the news any more--most days I just glance at the headlines in the NY Times and that's it. There's an online version of El Heraldo, B/quilla's main newspaper, but I maybe get around to that one once every month. Every morning when I'm lying in bed not wanting to get up there's one or two men who walk through the streets by my housing, shouting "El Heraldo," and believe me, I think every time that I should get one so I could know more what's going on in the city I live in. But it just never seems to happen...

This week I've also been tinkering with video blogging. I don't want to have to pay for a service to host my videos, but so far I've not found anything that's been easy to use. Any suggestions? I'm also interested in adding audio, but I need to go buy a microphone first. It would be much easier if I was back in the 'nati where I could simply call from my cell to audioblogger!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Thoughts so far on blogging in education

I'm participating in two different TESOL EVO 2006 sessions, one on collaborative blogging in education and the other on using drama in second language acquisition. So, for a while at least, this blog will have my thoughts about what we've been discussing so far in the blog session.

Shouldn't technology make our lives easier, not more difficult? The students may enjoy it, and so might I, but how much are they actually learning? And how much time is wasted? These things exhaust what little is left of my energy at five o'clock on a Friday afternoon.

I'm enjoying the blog06 session the best so far, mostly because it goes hand-in-hand with the activities I'm attempting to develop for my students here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Life on the Road

I found a blog this morning called Driving to South America, about tales of a retired couple and their road trip through South America. This could be you, Dad! How long do you think it would take you to get from Ohio to Barranquilla?!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

I knew I was back in Barranquilla when...

  • I got to the Avianca desk in Miami and I had to pay $53 in airport taxes
  • I was on the airplane and no one stayed in their seats, the kids behind me were playing videogames with the sound on and turned up loud, and the lady sitting next to me said the airplane food was "delicious" (hint: airplane food is never delicious)
  • In the baggage claim area, passengers and their kids were jumping over and on the conveyor belt. On the conveyor belt
  • I smelled the gas fumes from all the cars in the 5:00 traffic and wanted to gag.

Happy New Year, a little bit late, resolutions, etc.

Haven't posted for a while, even though I wanted to, 'cause McAfee on my dad's laptop blocks everything and even after playing with it for a while, couldn't figure out where to un-block Blogger.

I have to say, one of my resolutions for the new year (what I'm going to fix in 2006) is to take more pictures. People have been asking me, and I really don't have many good ones. I have no excuse really, now that I have a digital camera, other than I am extremely lazy when it comes to taking pictures!

And I have to find something useful to do with my time. I've spent the last I don't know how many years volunteering and I NEED to find me someplace to feel like I'm contributing something to society in Barranquilla. Even if the locals don't have that need, I do. What have I done with the past six months? It's not like working with the students is very fulfilling (sorry, those of you who are good students). And what do I do, really, other than work, sleep, and kind of eat? So much for my idea of working in Colombia being at least more relaxing than being a full-time grad student. It's not, in many ways. I don't want to keep losing hair from all the stress! So that's another resolution-don't lose any more hair from working too much.

I WILL finish my first knitting project this year, I swear. I WILL pay off my $26.50 overdue book fine to the Cincinnati Public Library. I WILL at least start doing yoga again 4 times a week because I realized I have no muscles left in my body.

I had a great New Year's Eve with my friends in the 'Nati. And it was 60 degrees the next day! Balmy! Amazing! Even thought 60 is still a shocker after 85. I wanted it to look like this (Christmas last year), but I can deal with not having to wear a coat all the time when it's January!

And we went salsa dancing at the Mad Frog, where people know how to turn! I truly miss living in that city (mostly because of friends and connections) but also because even though there's really not much to do there, there's 10 times more to do than in Barranquilla (which how is that possible?).