Angell, the Ugly Caterpillar

 

Colombia’s changed me.

Physically, I haven’t lost or gained weight…or so I think.

However, my hair has grown a lot, like the hair on my head and face. Yes, my face. I broke my room mirror twice (talk about bad luck) and don’t really know what I truly look like. But when I do come across a mirror and good lighting, I discover some interesting things on my face. I think I may be growing some peach fuzz.

It must be the water.

 

But, I will be dramatic to say that in addition to my hairs, my soul has changed.

There are some rewarding experiences as a PCV, such as students behaving well, finally mastering the system of living and surviving in a new environment, students appreciating you through actions, getting things checked off the to-do list, and much more. However, being a PCV also brings tsunami waves of emotional break-downs, sadness, and craziness, and the goal is to maintain your calmness, coolness, and collectedness through it all.

So with that said…

My feelings to empathize and understand are out of the roof. Sad movies – I can’t watch them because I feel the impact for days.

Still not that patient, but I am proud to say my patience scale with technology has improved tremendously. Instead of giving up, I perservere with the obstacles technology throws at me. With good internet signal, a 2 to 3 prong plug converter, extension cord, prayers and patience, one can do anything with a projector with no audio, computer, and a cellphone.

My sensitivity and irritability levels are at peak at times.

My disagreement with other people are intense to the point I cannot sleep due to rage or anxiety.

 

I am an emotional being, but now, I am an emotional mess.

 

 

Then, God comes through with advice sent through friends and I receive an article by Mark Manson from Helena.

The last three paragraphs include the golden nugget that I needed.

“You may view the world through family values, but most people do not. You may view the world through the metric of attractiveness, but most people do not. You may view the world through the metric of freedom and worldliness, but most people do not. You may view the world through the positivity and friendliness, but most people do not.

And that’s simply part of being human. Accepting that others measure themselves and the world differently than you do is one of the most important steps to consciously choosing the right relationships for yourself. It’s necessary for developing strong boundaries and deciding who you want to be a part of your life and who you do not. You may not accept a person’s ideas or behaviors.

But you must accept that you cannot change a person’s values for them. Just as we must choose our own measurement by ourselves and for ourselves. They must do it by themselves and for themselves.”

“You may not accept a person’s ideas or behaviors. But you must accept that you cannot change a person’s values for them.”

 

This part makes me question…why am I mentally strangling others to abide by my standards or way I see things? Why cannot I accept them for them? Why can’t I let go?

 

WHY?

 

Because struggle makes my feelings 10x more intense.

Because struggle makes my feelings more easily hurt and long-lasting.

Because struggle makes me prone to emotional break-downs.

IT’S BECAUSE I CARE SO D### MUCH.

IT’S ALSO BECAUSE I WANT TO BE TREATED THE WAY I TREAT OTHERS!

I always try to give a benefit of a doubt to people. Do they do that to me?

Why, oh, why, VivaColombia airlines representative must you be so rude? I’ve been in customer service positions, too, and I know how that is because some people make you want to punch them in the face! But, I am being nice to you! You aren’t being so nice to me right now!!!! Now, YOU are driving ME crazy!!!!!!

 

It’s always a battle between fighting for my thoughts or letting go.

And I always fall victim to holding onto my hurt and making someone accountable for it.

Which is why sometimes I wake up at freakin 2 am talking to myself back to sleep.

Colombia has taught me to be more caring, empathetic, and humbler. However, she’s made me a little  crazier and a more annoyed person.

So, in a nutshell, my mental state is going through puberty. Voice cracks, body changes, hormone imbalances, the works.

If I make it through my two year service, I hope to make it through this transformation successfully and come back to the U.S. with a healthier and more positive perspective of people, abundance of acceptance, and the freedom to let go…because I love sleep without interruptions.

I am an ugly caterpillar right now waiting to be a sexy, beautiful butterfly.

So in the meantime, please tell me I am pretty even with my peach fuzz.

 

Sources:

Caterpillar photo

Mark Manson Article, “How We Judge Others is How we Judge Ourselves”

 

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Stay Human

Hello from the jungly part of Colombia.

The United States of America is going through a lot and I would like everyone reading my blog to take a moment and smile at someone new today and ask, “How are you?” Do it sincerely and genuinely. Hug your family and others and say I love you and thank you at least 50 times a day.

Please don’t forget to stay human. Please don’t forget that we are all humans. Please open your heart to empathize. Get out of your comfort zone to understand.

The United States of America needs many hugs and words of encouragement. Please help spread the love. Colombia gives a big sweaty hug to the United States of America for fast healing.

Despite the occurrences of this past week, I am doing well. I am gaining weight because my high-waisted jeans no longer feel comfortable nor provide concealing support of my belly. So, I suppose that reveals that I am not starving…

I went through some rocky down points, but bounced back up with the support of a few things and people.

Thank you shout out to the following:

  1. Barbara, one of my PCV (Peace Corps Volunteer) friends, who offered her home to me to publish this blog. God bless Barbara and her sexy WiFi.
  2. WhatsApp’s audio recording to and from my brotha from anotha motha, Ronald.
  3. The best go-away gift from my best friend, Amber. 

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  1. Milo cookies. Please Google them.
  2. My sitemate, Galen, his company, and consideration of my love for cookies. We met up to hang out and brought cookies saying, “I brought some cookies for you knowing you’d get hungry.”
  3. Books from my high school English teacher, Wendi.
  4. And YOU. You reading this blog. I put in a lot of effort to share my experiences and my sweat, emotions, and love are laced in every word. Thank you.

 

So remember training ended April 15th and I moved to my site? And whoa it’s July.

With baby steps, I am slowly getting a better idea of what all is here in my site, who to go to for whatever reason, and explored a few of the other villages of the Troncal (Troncal is the highway that all the villages lie next to). I sense the students that love learning English or learning in general, the students that make me want to rip out my hair,  the potential for growth of an idea or a student’s behavior or learning, and how I really need to work out like my life depended on it…soon.

Vamos – Let’s GOOOO

I would like to share with yall one of Colombia’s village gems here called, Don Diego. It is where the Teyuna civilization (think of Aztecs, Mayans, indigenous tribes) lived and now where lies a hostel called, Taironaka, that is built around the ruins. One of my teacher friends, Arnol, teacher of Eco-Tourism and Physical Education at my Perico Aguao school, gave me a tour of Taironaka. We hiked up the mountain and I will celebrate the day when I get accustomed to the dang mosquitoes here. Arnol laughed heartily saying, “Oh, I am accustomed to the mosquitoes,” as he hiked with Crocs slippers (CROCS!) and shorts baring his legs. Here I am with a capris-like pants, reeking of toxic bug repellant, and still suffering from the mosquitoes.

Take a look at the houses, where the Sacerdote and Cacique (basically, boss #1 and boss #2 of the Teyuna) lived, and how cherubic I look. Look closely at the rock formation: perfect circles.

Also..I ripped my pants trying to cross barbed wire. Living life on the edge, guys. Living life on the edge.

 

One of my PCV friends, Jackie, lives in Aracataca. Aracataca has a population of 52,000 and is famous for being the home of Colombia’s Nobel Peace Prize author, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. He was known as Gabo. I went to see his museum and there were tons of yellow butterflies and his history.

 

My other PCV friends, Helena and Audrey, live in Fundación. Fundación is known for the heat and is also known as Fundición. In English, Fundición means foundry, and foundry means a metal casting factory. Basically, I visited them to enter a metal casting factory to be melted into smithereens.

Fundación and Aracataca are way bigger cities than mine. My village has maybe 200-300 people. Fundación has 82,000 and had restaurants, shops, ATM machines, grocery stores, and a bakery store called Mundo Tortas – Bread World. I couldn’t stop saying how cool everything was. I was a kid at the candy store, who didn’t know what candy was until at that point in time.

I walked with Audrey to visit the River of Fundación and ran into an old meeting place of a Rotary Club, an international service organization, which made my heart swell with pride because I was heavily involved in Rotary during my high school and university years.

 

 

Random life events:

At my other school in Buritaca, we celebrated environment day and planted mango and orange trees. I also greeted a parrot that wanted to bite me.

 

Sofi turned 8 on July 1st and I mentally and physically prepared myself for that party. There were tons of children and I was baby sitter, party helper, trash picker-upper, cake-cutter, and dynamic coordinator. My sister is seriously a princess.

 

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This screams…BOW DOWN MINIONS!

 

I visited the olla – pot, or in this case, body of water, of Perico Aguao, with my teacher friend, Arnol. This is a sacred body of water of the Arhuaco indigenous people. I took a nap on the rock there and felt like a million bucks after. So, I don’t know if yall saw my Instagram photo (look to the right of my blog!!!) but I got a new bike. Yay. But not so much because the seat is soooooo hard and my bike was so very stiff. My dear bum and loins suffered greatly, but the sites were worth the pain. Kind of. ;P

 

I went to visit my neighbor, Yerlys’ family in Mercatalia (a little ways away from me on the Troncal) and got gifted a guanabana. It is a prickly fruit as you see here and it’s pulpy and soooooo good. I feel proud when I receive gifts like fruits. I carry it around like it’s a golden star. Not only does my Korean-ness attract non-stop staring and attention, the fruits help me look a little Colombian. People bring all sorts of things onto the bus such as chickens, luggage bags of all shapes and sizes, and whatever else. INTEGRATION, YES!

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Guanbana, Juan, Brandon, and Yerlys.

 

Look at my Perico Aguao students! I had an informal, independent test prep class during summer vacation for the 11th graders and it was a very good class. I feel all the potential. Then, there are my 7th graders that are plain goofy.

 

This here is my best investment from the city of Santa Marta. This bear lamp. It was 7,000 Colombian pesos which is like 2 US dollars. It is chargeable and when the power goes out, I just turn this baby on and I feel very wealthy because I don’t use a candle. Haha.

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My dear little sister teaches me so many things without her even knowing it. So a little bit about her….She LOVES playing outside. LOVES playing. She is always outside. She’s a sweaty mess every day. So, one day, she begged my mom to go out and ride her bicycle for a lap, but it was getting dark so my mom said no. She was crying so hard and pleading, “Mami, por que no?!?!?!!??! Momentico, momentico!!!!!!!!” – “Mom, why?! For just a little moment, just a little moment!!!” FYI, Colombians add “ico” “ito” to the end of words to emphasize the word or express the meaning of just a little bit! 

Ok. So, after maybe 2 minutes of this constant back and forth of…

Sofi: “MAMIIIIII MOMENTICO MOMENTICO!!!”

Mom: “NO!”

Sofi: “MAMIIIIII MOMENTICO MOMENTICO!!!”

Mom: “NO! SILENCIO!!!!!!!!”

And 1 minute later, my mom asks Sofi if she wants an arepa with cheese (arepas are fried flour pancake things), Sofi immediately stops crying, and asks for more cheese.

I mean, talk about a fast recovery. If you are sad, just model Sofi. Cry it all out and bounce right back up again. Tip: use food as encouragement.

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What is the blue thing? It’s a tank of water when the water goes out. It is like the backup water plan.

Personal feelings:

I am happy to say, I have been building my tolerance against the heat and feeling more energetic. For those of you who know me, I am a fitness freak. I am ashamed I haven’t had done any real working out when I got here in January, but in June, I started jump-roping. Baby steps! 

Now it is July, I feel I am taking control of my life. Boy, how great does that feel. Little things like not being able to do my own laundry when I want to due to 1390834 different variables such as my mom is using the machine, or the power is out, or the sun is not out for the clothes to dry, etc etc or cook when I want to because our kitchen is limited, it’s a hot mess in there because my mom cooked a feast, or I am just so tired to move my body…really really drove me crazy. But now, I turned the tables around. I tell my mom I am going to do laundry prior. So basically, I give forewarning. Hahaha. Cooking? I strategize around the traffic times where my mom is in the kitchen. It’s a work in progress, but I am getting there, folks. I really deserve a beer for that.

OH! Here is a public service announcement…Please “like” our Peace Corps Colombia Facebook Page! It’s a portal where we share all volunteers’ experiences!

 

I love you all and I hope you remember what I told you in the beginning of my blog.

 

Say I love you and thank you 50 times a day.