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.