March 29th, 2010
[Title of the blog post sung to the tune of Night Man]
Currently it is Semana Santa in Colombia, similar to our version of Spring Break, so we have migrated north to the beaches of the Atlantic Coast with the family. While our aunt and uncle took an hour flight from Medellin to Santa Marta, we opted for the more economical route and took a night bus for $40 and 15 hours of transit. 15 hours to cover the same distance that a plane can in an hour. There has got to be something wrong with that.
All in all, the ride wasn’t that bad; the seats were comfortable and the bus was (surprisingly) VERY well air-conditioned…bring two sweatshirts and a blanket style. Things didn’t get uncomfortable until the co-captain put on one of the most random movies you could ever think of. Go ahead, think of the most random movie you can, you’ll never guess. If you guessed Center Stage, the late 90’s chick flick about the drama of a NYC ballet school, you are a wizard genius. About 5 minutes into the movie the picture on the TV went out so we were forced to listen to the audio version (all in dubbed-over Spanish.)
We were able to sleep through the majority of the movie, but the fun didn’t stop there. After the movie was over they continued to blare Mariachi music throughout the bus, in the words of Lionel Richie: All. Night. Long. It made for interesting dreams, I’ll tell you what. The good news is we get to enjoy the beach for another week before we get on another bus, and this time we’ll bring earplugs!
March 25th, 2010
On the weekends we’ve been exploring different regions of the country and we’re still waiting to see a part of Colombia that doesn’t look like paradise. Our first week here we went to our family’s ranch (or finca in Spanish) 2 hours outside the city. It is the ultimate place to relax. We spent our time in hammocks, playing board games, watching two iguanas fight it out for the alpha male title, and star gazing while drinking wine. Our busiest day was the Cabalgata, a huge community organized horseback ride through the mountains. This is one of my favorite things to do in Colombia. After hours of riding on horseback everyone met up at the two local bars; live music at one, cockfighting at the other. You don’t get a more authentic experience than this!
We spent another weekend with our family at a finca in a part of of Colombia I’d never been to. Along the way we stopped at one of Colombia’s most iconic spots: El Peñol. It’s this giiiiiigaaaaantic rock in the middle of all of these lakes and islands. The view was spectacular and we were amazed at how varied the landscapes in Colombia are. We drove through a charming city called Guatapé which reminded us of Lake Arrowhead village, except every house had so much character with brightly painted patterns, we’d never seen anything like it.
This finca was at the base of these enormous mountains and we could constantly hear the sound of the rushing water from the bordering creek with water clear and clean enough to drink. Our crew of 13 people took a hike up the mountain and then cooled off by swimming in one of the many creeks. We spent hours playing a really fun game called sapo (frog) where you try to throw rings into one of 15 holes, including a frog’s mouth. Shockingly, this was a game I could beat Noah in, making it my new favorite game.
March 24th, 2010
Medellín is a gorgeous city and we are very happy here; other than family, friends, and a variety of cheeses there are very few things we miss from the States. Unlike Los Angeles, Medellín has a great metro system that takes us almost everywhere we need to go, and if it doesn’t there are thousands of cabs willing to do that for very cheap. We took our most expensive cab ride yesterday; it cost us a little more than $2.00. We’ve also been blown away by the health care system here. We want to invite President Obama and the whole gang on Capitol Hill down here to see how it’s done. We each pay about $70 a month for insurance and we don’t need to depend on employers to have that low rate. Noah had a minor eye infection and we saw a dr. two hours after we called to make an appointment. The appt. cost $10 and we paid $27 for 2 medications. It was a surprising and refreshing experience.
Not two weeks after our first encounter with the Colombian healthcare system did we find out that like in the US, Colombian’s have their health care woes too! On our way to the fair we witnessed a couple hundred protesters marching for reform, but the difference is their methods of protest are cooler than ours. Here, they come up with catchy songs accompanied by sweet, sweet dance moves. Protesting and a dance party in the streets? They’re onto something here.
March 24th, 2010
First things first, I must clarify one thing: Columbia is a University. Columbia makes sportswear. Columbia is a record company. Columbia is a city in South Carolina. But ColOmbia is the northernmost country in South America, and for the past month it’s what my husband and I have called home. It doesn’t matter what their level of education or how many times I tell them “O not U,” my friends just can’t get it right. So consider yourself ahead of the game, you know now the first thing about Colombia.
The second thing you need to know is you can forget everything you thought you knew about Colombia (except for the spelling, of course.) Colombia has come a long way from the reputation it once had of guerrilla violence and drug trafficking. Thanks in large part to the current president, Colombia has been experiencing a period of prosperity and security for the majority of the past decade. Due to this change Colombia now has the opportunity to show a different side to the world: a diverse land whose beauty is rivaled only by that of its people.