Champeta!

Undoubtedly one of my favorite things about Colombia is its rich musical history. After listening to a steady stream of salsa for a few months I’ve finally started becoming acquainted with other genres of Colombian music. Champeta is a type of music from the Atlantic coast of Colombia, specifically the city of Cartagena. The word “champeta” literally means a type of machete, but was also used as a word to describe the poor, Afro-Colombian residents of Cartagena beginning in the 1920s. During the 1970s sailors started bringing African LPs to the port cities of Colombia and DJs started playing these songs at street parties.

Champeta music was/is played over picós – giant, elaborately painted soundsystems invented in Cartegena. [image from Africolombia blog]

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My Dear Students

I haven’t written much yet about work. In one sentence: I am completely enamored with my students at Colombo. They are incredibly helpful, appreciative and delightful. In my conversation course I had each student read a book and then write a letter to the author with their thoughts about the book. I was so tickled to read one student’s endearing letter. Here’s the best part:

First of all, I must say reading isn’t my strength, so my perception about a book and my thoughts on how to make it better or which things to change to make the story more appealing to the readers in general could be redundant and superfluous in the eyes of an experienced writer who has the gift of telling a story and bringing personality to life with just written words. I mean, I admire a writer’s work and if any of my thoughts can help in any way possible, then I will be pleased.

I had little time to read the book, mainly because I postponed it for a couple of days (as I said before, reading isn’t my strength), thinking that I wasn’t going to have a good time or enjoy reading this story, but as soon as I started reading, I couldn’t stop. I read the whole book in an afternoon and said to myself, watching a movie or a TV show aren’t the only ways to get into a story, besides by reading you give your mind some work to do and as English isn’t my native language, I learned a couple new words and added them to my English AND Spanish vocabulary!

What lovely words for a teacher to read.

Colombian Camping

It turns out there’s a big difference between what my Colorado friends would call camping and what my Colombian friends call camping. In Bucaramanga you typically go camping at a finca. A finca is a family farm with space for putting up tents and often hotel rooms as well. There’s always a restaurant and sometimes a swimming pool too; much different than backwoods camping in Colorado, but equally relaxing. On Sunday afternoon five friends and I took a bus into the hills east of Bucaramanga. The wonderful thing about Bucaramanga is that there’s a plethora of villages and towns to visit in every direction and they can all be reached by bus for $1.50. After about 40 minutes we got dropped off on the side of the road and started the long hike up the driveway to El Carajo. It was much colder up there than it is in Bucaramanga, so refreshing!

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