Life in Barranquilla

23 07 2011

I’ve noticed that living with Monica and Alvaro is not very different from living with my parents in one very crucial aspect: none of the clocks keep the same time.  The difference is that at home, I know which one is closest to correct, the difference from correctness, and how to plan my life accordingly.  Here, it is not like that at all.  And the clocks at the school are different, too.  The high school English teacher said today that break is at 12:15.  I looked at my phone (it doesn’t call, but it still tells time) and it said 12:22.   I’m pretty sure I’m late for everything.

Teaching is going well.  The little kids are really eager to practice English and are pretty confident in saying their words.  the older kids, well, aren’t.  So, for the classes that are exceptionally timid, I’ve started letting them teach me Spanish at the end of class.  Whatever words we worked on in English, they teach me back in Spanish.  That way they can hear me butcher Spanish confidently.  I’m hoping this will make them less nervous practicing English on me.  Also, the kids are very interested in whether or not I have a boyfriend.  Most of the classes threw that question in amongst others, but the 10th graders today didn’t.  That’s the only thing they wanted to know about me.  Then, there’s a group of 6th grade (I think) boys who call me “mom.”  They said they want an American mom because American mom’s have money.  If only they knew that money in America doesn’t go quite as far.

Finally, there are the computer issues.  Let’s start with keyboards.  The keyboard on the PC has some extra buttons and some of the punctuation marks are located in different places on the keypad.  So, for the last 9 days, I have retrained myself on how to type without thinking.  Now that I’m back on my laptop, I keep messing up!  Who knew you would use and apostrophe so often!  BUT, I am finally back on my own computer thanks to my Colombian engineer friend, Juan.  He managed to set up the wireless signal where the other Juan (Juan David) and I failed.  Also, he keeps me hydrated at the school.  I would likely be dead without him.

I’ll post some pictures tomorrow.  Promise 🙂


a brief update with some photos!

16 07 2011

My suitcase finally arrived. The airport delivered it to the house. It was a bit strange not going to the airport yesterday, but it was also kind of nice. For the first time in a week, I wasn’t at an airport. I thought that day would never come.

Yesterday I visited the school. It was wonderful. I was introduced to all the classes. The younger kids could not believe that I don’t know Spanish. The older kids were fairly disinterested in me. The middle kids were totally intrigued by me. They had so many questions. When I left the sixth grade class, my translator said the boys were all saying, “bye, my love!” During lunch, I was surrounded by around 15 children that wanted to start my Spanish lessons. They had me saying everything from star to flute. I’m not 100% certain what they were having me say. I was assured it was nothing bad.

I went to the mall last night. This mall is a billion times nicer than any mall I have seen in America. It is four stories in two buildings. It’s classy and awesome. I kind of want to be there all the time.

So, when Monica introduced me to the school and some members of the church, she said that I will be staying for four months….. I guess they only need me this one semester. Perhaps that will change by the time November rolls around. I am prepared to stay for at least a year, so we shall see what happens. I must have misunderstood or assumed or something. Oh well. Four months or a year or ten years: this is an experience of a lifetime and I will take in every minute!

For those of you who are curious, I do have an air conditioner in my room. I only run it at night to save costs. Right now, I’m in my room and I have a fan going, but I’m probably melting. All I know is I won’t be complaining in Oklahoma (at least not for a while). Here are some pictures of mi casa.

my bedroom

my dining room

my living room

So,I was thinking, when this is all over, I can start my life in the states back up wherever I want. I will have so much freedom of choice! What are your thoughts? Where should I go (Stilwell is not an option, sorry!)?

Now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for: a blog from somewhere other than Miami

13 07 2011

I made it to Bogota!  Finally!

Immigration went smoothly enough.  My bag didn’t make to Bogota, though.  I was originally going through Panama, but that didn’t pan out so I rerouted through Bogota (which was the original original plan).  My bag didn’t get caught in the reroute.  So, it will be flown into Barranquilla tomorrow morning.  By this time tomorrow, everything should calm down.

When I got to Bogota, I tried to find internet connection somehow.  Most people didn’t know what I was asking (language barrier), and, if they did, I didn’t know what they were telling me back. Eventually, I found a “wifi zone” and was able to connect for about 8 minutes.  Long enough to learn that my flight to Barranquilla leaves at 630, but not long enough to learn which airline.  Here’s where it gets tricky.

I decide standing around yelling at the internet in my head isn’t going to make it work.  My best shot is to go to the ticket gates of the two airlines I remember hearing most about and just see if I’m booked.  Me not speaking Spanish is a bad thing.  No one understood what I was asking.  Finally, a lady in line overheard me and translated for me.  All sorted – I’m on Aries.  The worst part of everything is that they took my nail polish through security.  I think she just liked the color.  Makes me sad.  It was good polish.

After all that, I got a subway sandwich for like 19,000 pesos.  I’m not sure how that works out in USD, but I was hungry.  I don’t really care.  The only new development since I started writing is that I plan to write a blog completely in Spanish at some point.  That would be awesome. Oh, and this terminal smells like gasoline.  It’s giving me a headache.


Reporting Live From Miami International Airport

12 07 2011

Airport Watch! Day Four! The mood is intense!

Ok, not really. I’ve been in Miami at least 72 hours. THANK GOD it hasn’t been in the airport only. I have had a hotel each of my three nights here and that’s a really big blessing. Being rested keeps meltdowns away. Yesterday was rather uneventful. I watched a couple movies and ate a turkey burger. But, before the last flight and after it I met two new friends. Let me tell you about them.

First, I met Marc. As we were standing in line to talk to the ticketing agents, an announcement was made in Spanish. During the announcement, the entire line walked away. As we were the only two non-spanish speakers in line, we just stood there waiting for the translation. Our gate had changed. After that, I said, more out loud than just to him, “I was waiting for English.” That sparked a conversation that took us to the other gate. Also, he carried my backpack for me. He called it my rucksack because he’s from London and they make words up 🙂

Anyway, he works for an oil company in London and travels a lot for work. He gave me 2000 in Indonesian Rupiah so I could say I have some of their currency. It’s worth around a quarter. Probably two cents in London. He had an accent. I told him that the only reason our conversation lasted as long as it did is because I just wanted to hear him talk. Oddly enough, he said he enjoyed hearing my accent! I don’t think he knows he’s the one with the accent. Anyway, we swapped emails and we shall see if I have a new friend from the other side of the pond.

My other new friend is Courtney. After I didn’t get on the flight to Bogota, I stood around waiting for the lady at the ticket counter to roll me over to the next flight. I waited for probably 20 minutes before she redirected me to a rebooking booth. She was just being difficult – every other agent handled it for me. Anyway, I stopped at the skytrain to compose myself because after missing 8 flights, I was ready to have a breakdown. I got it together and found the rebooking booth. Courtney got in line behind me and asked if I had missed my flight, too. We swapped stories and she discovered that the next outbound flight for her destination was at noon the next day. I felt like I needed to ask her if she wanted to stay in the hotel with me. Bridge Builder’s covered the cost of the room, so neither of us were out any money. She said she wasn’t a serial killer or a thief, so we made our way to the hotel.

We both agreed that it felt like we had been traveling together all day. It was very easy to share the time together. It wasn’t awkward or scary or anything. Just nice. It was good to have company.

Other than my two new friends, I have not had any other real adventures. I am doing just fine in Miami. I want to reassure everyone that my spirits are up, I’m not in bad sorts, and that I’m not stressed out about this delay. Other than my minor meltdown, caused mostly by exhaustion, last night, I have just gotten along. I have lost track of days and such, but that’s no worry. The flights all leave at the same times everyday, so I just need a clock!

Thanks for all the prayers and support during my Miami vacation! I really appreciate the thoughtful and encouraging posts on my facebook. It’s nice knowing so many people are interested in what I’m doing.

Until next time!

More thoughts from Miami

10 07 2011

Last night when I went outside to catch the shuttle, I was smacked in the face with humidity. Literally, the humidity had a hand and it slapped me. I’ve never seen anything like it. I had a great night’s rest and now I’m back at Miami standing by for the next flight out to Bogota. I didn’t make the first flight. The next one is at 455pm. I’m praying I make that one. All in due time, I suppose. For now, I have plenty of time to relax and reflect. I’ve mostly just relaxed though. Here are some of my most recent reflections on life.

1. I tried redistributing my carry on items and putting some in my guitar case. I think I managed to make the guitar case heavier and the backpack heavier. Either that or my back is breaking down. Maybe both.

2. I’m going to eat Sushi Maki for lunch today. I looked at the prices and they are normal!! It’s not a $10 hamburger or $3 bottle of water. It’s a $7 sushi roll. I’m very excited.

3. Jerry should be joining me soon. Last I heard he made the flight out of Bogota. If he did, that flight has arrived and is going through immigration now. Once he clears security again, I just might get to see him.

4. I’m really glad I was not a judge in the Casey Anthony trial.

5. I never ever want jury duty. But, if I were to ever get called in for it, it will probably be while I’m overseas.

6. Sushi Maki smells so good!!!

7. I’m sitting in a corner of the airport, not by a loading gate, on the floor just so I can keep my laptop plugged in. My battery is shot. It lasts about 45 seconds without being plugged in.

8. I most definitely flirted with the hotel desk clerk last night to get a better rate on my room. It worked. I did not know I had those skills.

9. If you decide to move overseas, everyone will be interested in your facebook statuses and you will wake up to 14 overnight notifications. Not even kidding. Keep it up. I enjoy it.

10.I really dread immigration. Really. What if they take my medicines? Or worse, my hair goop.

11. I have set up a donation button on the side of my blog. If you look to your right up at the very top, you should see it. If you are wanting to contribute, you can do it there. It’s through PayPal and it’s linked to my checking account. Trust me, anything will help! All funds go toward my Colombian Adventure. Let me thank you in advance for helping me out. I couldn’t be doing this without you.

12. I miss my dog sooooooo much. Abelard, if you are reading this, I wish you were with me. Be good for Beccah and please learn to poop outside while I’m gone. I’ll bring you a new chew toy from Colombia.

13. Airport acquaintances are “single serving friends.” Name that movie and I will award you ten thousand cool points.

14. I think Addilynn is the greatest baby to have ever been born. I love her and I miss her little chubby legs.

15. This floor seat is not comfortable AT ALL. oy vey.

Thoughts? Comments? Donations??

Until next time!

Thoughts From the Miami Airport

9 07 2011

I am FINALLY en route. It has been a whirlwind month that I thought would never end, but, at last, I am on my way! Let me tell you about my little adventure so far.

I was supposed to have left on Wednesday the 6th. Obviously, that did not happen. Monica, who I will be living with, was very ill on Tuesday and we postponed the trip. So here we are on Saturday, just chilling for the next two hours in the Miami airport. I was planning on routing through Panama and staying over night, but that didn’t pan out. Thank God! Going through customs twice does not sound fun. Once is bad enough. So now I’m trying to get through Bogota. The flights are really full, so I will likely end up staying overnight in Miami. We’ll know for sure around 8pm eastern time. What a day.

So here are some random thoughts coming to you straight from Miami International Airport:

1. Everyone here is bilingual. I will be soon.
2. I’m so tired I can’t even see straight! 3 am was too early today.
3. Flying standby has landed me two first class flights. Not bad. I particularly enjoyed the leg room.
4. I called my mom from a pay phone using my debit card to pay…it cost $40. That is so stupid.
5. Living without a cell phone is both harder and easier than I expected.
6. Did I mention I’m tired?
7. Airport food, for the most part, is overpriced and not very good.
8. I have made a point to get up and walk around the cabin of my flights to avoid developing deep vein thrombosis. No blood clots for this girl.
9. I’m really doing this. I’m really moving to Colombia. This is unbelievable.
10. I have a really difficult time spelling “believe” correctly. 9 times out of 10, I misspell it.
11. When I get to Barranquilla, I’m going to sleep for three whole days. And eat a hot dog.
12. Flying stand-by, though stressful, is very exciting. It’s an adventure all in itself. I’ve been all over this airport looking for a helpful American Airlines rep. They are few and far between.
13. This is the dream.
14. I want to take a nap.
15. I really wish my 20 pound back pack had wheels.

So, there you have it! Comment with your email if you want to make it on my “newsletter” list. Thanks friends! I miss your faces 🙂