The featured picture is a collection of sweat rags/towels. One can tell which one is mine, and the blue one is my friend’s Sammy’s and the orange one is Jimmy’s.
When visiting Colombia, especially the coast, don’t forget your sweat rag/towel.
Thank you shout out to…
Carmen, for accompanying me to the airport when I went to visit my family.
Helena, for accompanying me from the airport. That was the funniest journey of my life. We walked through sand with rolling luggage the weight of two barbells and saw magic on the bus, where a guy revealed white as snow bunny from lighting up a buncha napkins on fire.
My parents for defending me at the airport against the evil American Airlines. That was love that made me cry.
The kids of my Catholic church and my local Rotary Club in Texas.
The tour guides of village, Don Diego. Helping them learn English has been a real reward for me.
WINTER IS HERE IN COLOMBIA!
And that means…. Lots and lots of rain. Who needs snow, when we have floods, humidity, and mold!
I am extremely shocked to tell you this, but I prefer the scorching, blazing sun and heat than the rain.
Rain means…mold building its army all over your stuff like backpacks and hats.
Rain means…no hot sun to dry your laundry.
Rain means…flakey energy and along with that, the absence of running water.
Good Jesus, but life goes on.
Then again, rain also has some positives. It seems that with anything, there is always a good and bad side.
Rainy season has definitely cooled down my area a little. So much breeze. Praise!
One night I turned off my fan because I was cold! COLD!!!!
I remember when I first came to my site, my host family gave me this chipmunk wooly blanket that is like Snuggie material and I quickly tossed that aside into the depths of my room.
I now wrap and caress that thing around my body when I sleep.
What the heck, seriously. Life is kindaa ridiculous…so ridiculous like this plate of scrambled chocolate chip cookies. Galen and I tried to use a stove top as an oven to bake cookies because we have no oven. It sadly failed, so we scrambled them. They tasted so good. Never judge a cookie by its figure.
So…how is everyone! I love writing about my fabulous life, but power and internet are not really my best friends here in my village, hence the big gap from August to today.
Me? How am I doing?… I’ve been sad, happy, excited, depressed, ashamed, angry, and now I am very, very awesome.
I visited my family in Texas, we have a new president elect, my English class for tour guides in village, Don Diego, is up and running, and Thanksgiving and winter break are coming.
Please remember that my blog is not affiliated with the U.S. government and these are my opinions and views only. We have a new president elect, but that does not mean I respect him. To let you know, the fight for equality and justice continues with a stronger force. I still represent the U.S.A. proudly and still stand up for myself and others even though I am in Colombia.
With that said, I am doing so well.
In October, I went to Texas to visit my family for one week. I realized I did not miss the States as much as I thought I would, but the love for my country still remains. Our country is already great. We don’t need to make it great again, we need to make it more open and accepting. Everyone should try to be to more open and accepting. It’s a team effort.
Ok, I am done with the underlying tones of political insinuations…
I tried to bring a huge conch shell that I received as a gift from my counterpart, Giovanni, but Colombia security took it away from me because I could not bring it in my carry-on. It was a sad realization that a shell could be a weapon on a plane. Here is me trying to be extremely happy with my last moments with my shell, but deep inside I was kinda crying that I could not take it. RIP shell.
I had this expectation of all this great food I would eat and roll around in, but unfortunately I was undergoing the process of re-adapting to the environment of the USA. I carried Pepto Bismol around me at all times. Vietnamese pho noodles, with a dash of Pepto. Korean BBQ, with a sprinkle of Pepto. Mexican tacos, with a gulp of Pepto.
I visited my Catholic Church and gave them a sweet presentation about my service and Colombia with the help of my cute siblings. One kid said that sancocho looked like a Korean stew, budae jjigae which us Koreans nickname it “trash-can stew” (literally translated). Basically in both soups, you throw a buncha ingredients in and boil it until ready. I spoke in Kong,Spang,-LISH and it was a hit. (Korean, Spanish, and English mixed together) The kids listened with great attention and they left the room with greater gratitude because I told them some of my challenges in Colombia like power outages and lack of water where I live, but I also told them the great things about Colombia like sancocho, the people, the contagious happiness, and how Colombians helped our dear Koreans during the Korean War. Their Sunday School teacher, Rosa, led a prayer for me to be strong to continue helping others.
She ended my presentation that we must be kind to others and to help them. Good karma exists, because a Colombian had helped a Korean in the 1950s and here I am, lending my hand to the people of Colombia.
My sweet friend, Ronald, visited me from Austin, Texas and he kindly helped me during my presentation at my local Rotary Club. Those Rotarians kept making fun of me having gone to THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN (they went to other less quality universities in Texas 😉 ) but I never let them crush my spirit!! I still bleed burnt orange blood!!! HOOK’EM.
Ronald and I went to an arcade called, Nickel Mania, and you pay the game machines with nickels!!!!! There was this Kung Fu Panda game where you hit dumplings and avoid bombs and I won the jackpot twice. Haha. 500 tickets. Get on my level.
My mom took me to a Korean clothes store and I got this cool moon shirt. Great material, I tell ya.
She was trying to help me get what I need and what I needed was some long cotton pants that were cool, as in cool as suave, but thick enough to protect my legs from mosquitoes. The store lady was trying to sell me this extremely old lady fashioned pants and I was like, this is too thin for the mosquitoes, and she was like, there are no mosquitoes here in Texas and I was thinking Oh God, take me away from this place. Then, my mom was explaining that I lived in Colombia and there are mosquitoes and that it is very hot over there.
One thing I learned from this experience was that I hate clothes shopping so much and nobody understands me!!!!!!
My sister made it rain on me and bought me sushi with a ridiculously awesome Groupon. Haha, I forgot about Groupon and all the million applications that help you save money. She showed me her art studio at her university, Southern Methodist University (SMU), and there was basically porn everywhere. I could’ve been an artist. I can draw nudity. 😉 Viewer discretion advised.
Haha I love you Sally. My sister is very talented. She also did my professional headshot. I told her to photoshop my double chin, but I realized I looked like a thumb without it.
Extra fat is necessary for beauty.
My little brother can drive now. He helped me with my errands and I am forever grateful for my mini me with a solid six pack. Someday, I will obtain a six pack and then we will be twins.
I met our new family dog, O-Deng, which means fish cake in Korean. He is still not potty trained, so everytime the sun came up, my mom yelled, “TAKE O-DENG OUT!!!!!!! AHHHH HE WILL POOP!!!”
It was like a daily battle cry.
We celebrated my dad’s birthday and I sang the Colombian national anthem and a bit of the Colombian birthday song to him. I only know the “Dios te bendiga” part…and just sang that over and over again until told to stop.
That week flew by and I returned to Colombia after some stressful situations that American Airlines gave me *fists shaking in the air cursing all sorts of bad words*
Coming back to Barranquilla gave me a whooosh of relief.
Hmmmm… Why is that?
There is a saying in Korean. One would pronounce it phonetically in English like, jungee deul eeh dah. (Currently cannot type in Korean on this keyboard..)
It means, one has affection for something or a country.
I feel this affection for Colombia.
I had told my family that when I see vendors on the streets, they sell their products with so much happiness. There is my favorite guanabana juice lady, Jessi, and she makes my damn day when I see her selling her juice. I wave at her like I am never going to see her again every. time. I see her. You can just picture the excitement with each wave of my hand… Happiness does not cost anything.
Visiting Texas gave me the opportunity to spend time with my dear family, talk about all my crazy stories, and share the greatness of Colombia and that was all that mattered. I could have done without the Pepto and the ridiculousness of American Airlines, but I came back to Colombia in one piece recharged with a lot of love from my family.
On October 27th, my butt fire just got lit up crazy and I started my secondary project. Our secondary projects must relate to teaching English and I started my class for tour guides in a village 10 minutes away from my village called, Don Diego.
I have understood that in the coast, punctuality is not really a thing here. However, I have brought my tiger lady and American professionalism into our class and we are slowly becoming more punctual and slowly taking this English class more seriously. I believe in their success with applicable English for their professions. They give me so much joy. I realized that English is really hard. Pronouncing things is hard. Sometimes, the guides will say something that really sounds like gibberish. Some days, my Spanish sucks so hard where my accent and pronunciation just are a hot mess. In these cases, we all just laugh together after jibber jabbering at each other.
I went to the famous National Park of Colombia, Tayrona, with a veteran PC volunteer, Jimmy. I had always passed by the entrance of Tayrona on bus, wondering and dreaming…what lies beyond that entrance? It was like the door of Narnia. I finally entered the other side and realized…
You really need to be an outdoorsy person for Tayrona. You need to be comfortable being smelly and stepping in mud or maybe horse poop. You need to pack food. You need to sing songs to get through the hiking. You should bring earplugs because you never know if the guy sleeping next to you in the hammock will snore like a bear. I almost wanted to close his nose.
Jimmy and I met a Swiss German named, Rolf. He was such a smart guy. We learned about Switzerland’s government body where they have 7 ministers who make political decisions. We learned that Swiss German is more of the rougher German language where they do not have a simple past tense. They basically use the past perfect tense. Then, there is German German spoken. But here is the interesting thing…Swiss Germans can understand the languages, Swiss German and German, but Germans cannot understand the language, Swiss German. MIND BLOWN. Rolf told us about his experience in Japan and we laughed so hard when he described the technologically advanced bathrooms. Japan has bidets in their bathrooms and when Rolf tried to flush, he pressed many buttons to get there. One button raised the toilet seat and the other button heated the seat… Technology I tell ya. He also told us about his company building a school in Nicaragua and how his company helps fund and maintain that school. He and his colleagues do this genuinely from their heart with nothing in return. I asked him twice to make sure I was hearing correctly. In today’s society, it seems that we live in a give and take world. If we give something, we must get something in return. But, Rolf and his colleagues just gave and are still giving. There is this quote I saw on the internet one day that goes like…”Character is when you do something for others who can do nothing for you..” or something along those lines. I think we should try to aim to live more like that for a more peaceful world.
Anyway, Rolf was a nice and smart guy and I just rambled about him because one can not only learn from books and school, but also can learn from people. I think it’s valuable to talk to people and share dialogue to understand and learn from and about them so we can all be a little bit more open minded. He knew a lot about the USA government system and it was a realization that the world indeed watches the USA on a microscope. We sure talked about all sorts of topics, from Japanese bidets, USA government and politics, nuances of German, Colombia, his Korean international student friends, Nicaragua school building while sharing American culture through Doritos and s’mores, and he sure did ask for s’more s’mores… 😛
The park is huge and breathtaking. We hiked to the following points, Arrecife, La Piscina, and then stopped at Cabo San Juan. One can go further, but we rested in Cabo San Juan.
I rode a horse for the first time to Arrecife and it was frightening but awesome.
Then, we got off the horses and hiked. The trails became impossible to walk through without getting muddy and I basically released a new fashion: mud boots. People entering the park looked at my new shoes with great interest and jealousy.
Alright, I close this blog post with my sexy feet.
As Thanksgiving rolls around, please take the time to talk to your family and friends and appreciate all the good things in life…and eat all the green bean casserole for me, please.