Cascadas de Baikal

As usual, I awoke at the crack of dawn this Sunday and headed to the park to meet my fellow hikers. The leader of Caminantes de Santander, Manuel, brought us some freshly picked oranges to snack on while we waited. The bus first took us to Rio Negro where we had empanadas and the freshest orange juice for breakfast. I’m already thinking about how much I’ll miss the juices of Colombia when I one day return stateside… From there we drove up a winding hill to a tiny pueblito called Llano de Palmas. After a group photo and some stretching we were off!

Our hiking group in Llano de Palmas. [Photo by Manuel Guacaneme Franco]

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Today we had a day off in honor of Thanksgiving. Of course Thanksgiving isn’t celebrated here in Colombia, but my school likes to promote American culture as much as they can. Really though, Colombians seem to enjoy any possible opportunity to have a party. I arrived to the Colombo at noon to find this fancy spread in the atrium.


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Marching for Water/Visiting La Mesa

On Friday, November 15th there was a big march in defense of Santurban, the paramo I wrote about earlier that serves as a huge water supply and is in danger of being polluted with mining activity. Me and hundreds of other Bumangueses (mostly college students) slowly paraded down the main street in town shouting “Agua si! Oro no!” Unfortunately, though, no progress has been made by the government in terms of protecting the area since the march.

Marcha 23

Photo by Pastor Virviescas Gómez

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Two Things That Would Only Happen in Colombia

1. The grade school next door to your work has a rock band play a concert for the kids at least once a week in their open air gymnasium. (WHY?) Usually these concerts happen on Friday afternoon, but today they’re playing at 9am. Your English students complain that they can’t come up with thesis statements for their essays because the band’s cover of “Nevermind” is so loud that you can barely hear each other talk.

2. You run into a girl on the street who works at a clothing boutique you went to once. Despite only meeting her once she remembers you perfectly because you’re one of the few Americans here and she starts talking to you like a close friend. Then you find out you’re neighbors and she walks you home.

Festival Etnocultural + Oiba

Here’s a quick rundown of recent happenings in my life. I’ve been a bit busy between working at Colombo and working with private English students. I’ve started working for a family who have the most adorable 11-year-old daughter. Teaching her is such a delight and her mom takes very good care of me – yesterday she had saved a piece of almojábana for me that her husband had brought back from Bogota. It’s a bread made from cheese and yuca that’s available here in Bucaramanga, but is better in Bogota she tells me. [There’s a simple recipe here if you want to try making some! I give it two thumbs up.]

November 1st and 2nd there was a festival in Giron called IV Encuentro Etnocultural “Por un Futuro Negro y Bonito”. It took place in a beautiful old house called Casco Urbano Antiguo.

Son Quindembo

Son Quindembo

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Per usual I’ve been keeping super busy lately. Much of this busy-ness during the last weeks revolved around my favorite activity – dancing! I managed to learn the basics of bachata, tango, African dance and samba all in 5 days. There are more dance-related stories to come, but for now I´ll just stick to bachata. My life seems to unfold in many lovely, unexpected ways in Bucaramanga. Two Tuesdays ago I stopped by the local hostel to leave some money owed to a friend and ended up staying for a bachata class with my friend Angelicka.

What is bachata? Let´s begin with the buttery voice of “the king of modern Bachata” Romeo Santos…

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La Salsera

This weekend began on Friday night like any good weekend – with salsa dancing! On Saturday afternoon I arranged a screening of Esperando El Tsunami at the beautiful Centro Cultural de Oriente. It’s a mesmerizing documentary featuring the musicians Lulacruza on a trip through Colombia. It has some incredible music and very poetic dialogue about nature and the beauty of Colombia. I highly recommend it! The filmmakers are showing the film via screenings set up by folks all around the world. Here is an outtake from the movie featuring a group, Sexteto Tabala, who I will have the privilege of seeing here in Bucaramanga in a few weeks!

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