Re-ignition of the Butt Fire

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.

20161103_133552

 

 

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.

Copy of 20161008_125311.jpg

 

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.

Super delicious.

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.

IMG-20161013-WA0031.jpg
We were going for the serious face, but Ronald must’ve been sad being bossed around.

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.

 

IMG-20161013-WA0046.jpg

 

My mom took me to a Korean clothes store and I got this cool moon shirt. Great material, I tell ya.

20161029_123039.jpg

 

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.

20161014_111508.jpg
Note: She only removed my pimples. Tranquila everyone…

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.

20161113_093014.jpg

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.

 

Advertisements

Korea 2015

Well, well, well. What a whirlwind of events that have happened from October to present-day. To give you a brief up-to-today timeline and my Korea adventures…

On October 13th, a bird had pooped on me and then a couple of hours later, I received the most anticipated email: “Congratulations! You are now medically cleared to depart for Peace Corps Volunteer service.”  I made sure I took it easy that whole day and drank a shot of whiskey later that night to celebrate my diligence, patience, and flexibility.

I have been invited to serve in the Peace Corps as a Teaching English for Livelihood (TEL) to train English teachers in Colombia. I will be receiving necessary training for three months and then serve for two years. Before serving, I had to undergo legal and medical clearance to ensure my suitability to serve in Colombia.

I put in a four week notice at my first big girl job, then wrapped up my work/personal business, and finally, bid farewell to everyone I cared about in Austin, Texas.

On November 22nd, I returned to Dallas, Texas to be with my family and spend time with them. In the making, I had set up a fundraiser, collected my savings and last paycheck to make visiting to Korea happen. (thank you to those who helped me with my fundraiser; I cannot thank you enough)

My grandma on my mom’s side (in Korean, she is called my “Weh” grandma) is 85 years old and my grandpa passed away. My grandma on my dad’s side (in Korean, she is called my “Chin” grandma) and grandpa (“Chin” grandpa) are in their late 70s.

I will be in Colombia beginning January of 2016 and with the little time remaining from now until then, I had wanted to visit my grandparents who are in Korea.

The two weeks I was there was memorable and time of lots of laughter. Here are some of my memories:

With my “Chin” grand parents, I went to Incheon’s famous fish market. My grandparents picked the fish and as soon as we selected them, the fisherman grabbed the fish and hit its head on the cutting board. That was my cue to walk out to avoid seeing the gutting. eek.

There are little restaurants nearby where you can enjoy the fish with rice, soup, alcoholic beverages, etc. So, take a gander at the before and after. Talk about F-R-E-S-H.

DSCF4136DSCF4142

 

Transitioning to probably my least favorite experience in Korea…I am unsure exactly what happened, but I had gained tons of acne on my face during the time I moved from Austin to Dallas. When I came to Korea, my “Chin” grandma flipped out and grabbed my face and asked what on earth happened to my “milky, white skin.” Well…beats me.

She immediately made an appointment to the dermatologist for me where they treat patients with skin lasers. To let you know, along with a S-line (curvy coca cola shaped body), a V-shaped face (Koreans love small faces), and skinniness, Koreans highly value “milky, white skin.”

***Note: this part may include details that are weird***

So, I had worked for a medical device consulting company, and when I entered the dermatologist, I was bragging to my grandma that the skin lasers displayed on the walls were medical devices and they had to get prior registration approval and continued to show off my knowledge on and on without really knowing what I was getting myself into.

What a day that had been… I had my pimples poked with a needle, squeezed out with probably a wrench (my eyes were covered during this painful, horrible time, so I am guessing what the tools looked like), and the doctor stamped something cold and then used two lasers on my face. The lasers felt like little static on my face and I smelt burning skin. It was the craziest, most painful, experience ever!!!!!! All this for beauty!!!!!!

I may be sharing more information than needed, but I also had these whiteheads clumped together below my eye. Okay, not very visible unless you stare at me real close, but my “Chin” grandma has eagle eyes. She asked the doctor to remove this problem area, too, and I thought it would just feel like the lasers that reminded me of static.

TOTALLY WRONG.

This actual laser felt like a hot needle that pierced that thin layer of skin. Unknowingly, tears ran down my face and after experiencing hell, the doctor says, “It didn’t hurt, right?” (teasing).

I was like…silent. What a terrible joke.

Anyway, here is the place I went. Never again!!!

temp_1450082700245.318384294

 

Moving forward to better experiences… Korea is very cold right now. I was wearing layers, a hat, gloves, a scarf, you name it. After walking out of the dermatologist with my “Chin” grandma, we walked by the most popular food stand near her neighborhood. We saw “Ddeok-bok-gi” (rice cakes in hot pepper paste mixed with fish cakes and green onions; it’s a popular snack food in Korea) being made right in front of our eyes. It was pretty spicy, but it was so good. My grandma had always wanted to eat here because she would see all the children coming from school waiting in line to eat here. I had always wanted to eat “Ddeok-bok-gi” in this kind of atmosphere (outside, cold) and with someone I cared about. Well, guess we knocked this experience off our bucket lists.

temp_1450082678305.-1377294953

 

When I stayed with my “Weh” grandma the following week, I listened to her talk about her little goldfish pets. The red fish are males and the other green/brown fish are females. Some of the females have children in their bellies and they are the chubbiest of the bunch. It was fun to see my grandma take care of them and also complain how much they poop.

DSCF4154.JPG

 

In a nutshell, I visited my “Weh” grandpa’s grave, I met up with my Korea office colleagues, I never went hungry, I took glamor shots in the snow, I drank banana milk every day (banana milk is the best thing in Korea) and I left happy.

 

I am fortunate to have seen my grandparents before my two-year service in Colombia. They went through a lot: Japanese colonization, Korean War, raising their kids through tough times, and hunger. Without them, I literally would not be here.

There’s a lot of love in my life and I am very thankful.