Monday, October 15, 2012

Colombianisms

As my last day in Colombia will be this Wednesday and I expect any blog posts from now until then to detail my work at Chiquitines (which I am so not ready to leave yet), I thought I would take the time to share some things I’ve noted outside of those brick walls in the last two months. The following is my running list of all things Colombia, based on my experience of this wonderful country. Enjoy!
  • Largest fruit selection known to man. Along with avocados the size of cantaloupe, mangos falling from the neighbor’s tree and oranges with three times the amount of juice of “Florida’s finest”, there are so many fruits here that don’t even existin the U.S. On top of that, the fresh produce here is crazy inexpensive since it’s locally grown. No added expense of importing, fewer preservatives for the journey… yes please! 

  • Attempt number one at mango slicing. It’s more complicated than you would think.


Attempt number two. Post-youtube-how-to-slice-a-mango-video watching. Much better.
  • Kites in August.Apparently the winds that cross Colombia just before the rainy season picks back up make it the best time of year to fly kites. Walk by any public green space in August and you’ll see dozens of children and adults testing out their mostly homemade creations. I’m pretty sure whenever I see a kite from now on, I will immediately think of Colombia. 

  • After spending nearly an entire Sunday afternoon helping my host family make a kite, they awarded me an honorary bachelors of kite making degree


  • Panaderia (bakery) on every block. Sometimes on every corner. I’m pretty sure the shop keepers at those closest to my apartment know me as the Gringa who just points through the glass display case to ask for “one of those”. A delicious surprise every time :) 
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  • $6 mani/pedi. Enough said.
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  • Lulo juice.Yes, this could have easily fit under “largest fruit selection know to man” but it totally deserves a category of its own. Looks like an orange on the outside, green on the inside, mostly sweet, a little tangy and oh so delicious. I’m trying to mentally prepare myself for withdrawals after I leave. 
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  • The one and only Lulo.
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  • The non-existence of traffic norms. Want to drive in the middle of two lanes? Go ahead. Pretend a stop sign is a yield sign? Everyone else is doing it. Make a left hand turn from the far right lane? Well sure (Gary Pinkel anyone?). Much to the entertainment of my companions, I’ve felt the need to cover my eyes and send up desperate prayers for safety on multiple occasions while riding in cars here.  Terrifying.
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  • Uneven sidewalks.Anyone who knows me well knows that I am extremely clumsy. Add in slanting concrete, cobblestones and man holes covers with handles that protrude two inches into my walking space and it’s a disaster waiting to happen. After two months, three bloody toes and one broken flip flop, Colombia: 4, Abby: 0. 
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  • I tripped over these stupid things all of two seconds after taking this picture. I wish I was kidding.

  • Two words. Drinkable yogurt.
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  • Falling asleep to the neighbor’s blaring salsa music. At first annoying, I’ve grown accustomed to this ritual of sorts. There’s something so seemingly authentic about it that you just can’t replicate in the states. Midnight Elvis music drifting into my bedroom at home? Not the same.
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  • Zancudos. The mosquito’s younger sibling (at least in my world), these little guys have been responsible for many fitful nights’ sleep, dozens of bug bites and the perfume of bug spray that I’ve worn daily for nearly two months  now. Love sleeping with the window open, which is a must in the heat here most nights. Hate waking up to giant ankles.
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  • Children babbling in Spanish. The sound of children’s laughter is perhaps the best sound in the world – enough to lighten up any dark mood I may be in or make a great day that much better. Intersperse that with lisped Spanish and my heart just melts. From the kids at Chiquitines attempting their first words to the neighbor kids playing policia y ladrones(cops and robbers) in my apartment complex, I just can’t get enough of it. 
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  • Blo-que

  • ¡Salsa! Known as the salsa capital of the world, Cali just breathes its musical creation. Check out my efforts to learn the local pastime here
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  • World Salsa Festival – Cali, Colombia

  • Swarming ants. Leave a spoon out after dinner with so much as a grain of rice attached and it will be covered in minutes, guaranteed.
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  • Mutual love. I realize this is a blaring contrast to my previous point. However, I have found that the two can and do coexist in Colombia. Being an interdependent society, families here are tight knit, as are communities. Children typically live with their parents until they are married, which usually happens around the age of thirty (another reason very single me likes Colombia), and families tend to reside in the same city even after the younger generation has kids of their own. Communities also have a variety of explicit and implicit traditions that tie the people together. Accents, colloquial sayings, local twists on food, music – it all makes each city unique and gives the inhabitants a mutual bond. Speaking of mutual bonds, the love that I’ve seen between spouses here is pretty darn impressive. While not typically a fan of nicknames, I have found those used between couples here to be endearing. No babe (belch!), honey, or sweetheart here. It’s more common to hear someone refer to his or her counterpart as mi amor (my love), mi vida (my life), mi luz (my light) or mi cielo (my heaven). Yes, yes, you can refer to me as your heaven any day. Please and thank you. 
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  • Angelica and Gabriel. Host family and pet name extraordinaires.
-Abby