I finished my job in Bucaramanga at the end of May and then went to Bogotá to await the arrival of my dear friend Courtney from the US. We spent a day together in La Candalaria – the historic part of Bogotá. Then we took a fancy double decker bus to Bucaramanga for my final goodbyes with all my friends there.
On Tuesday last week I finished my work at Colombo. The rest of the week was spent in a mad rush trying to procure things for Peru and hang out with friends. I also squeezed in a trip to the dentist since I realized I could do it here with no appointment needed and only a $30 charge for a cleaning. On Saturday night I took a bus to Bogota. With my new inflatable neck pillow and a dose of motion sickness medicine I was finally able to get a good night’s sleep on the bus and got to my friend’s apartment on Sunday morning feeling fully refreshed. I am staying with my friend Diego and his siblings in a beautiful apartment in North Bogota. We spent Sunday like every Colombian does – just lounging around. My time in Bogota is going to be pretty low-key, not many activities planned. This morning I had time to finish a project I’ve wanted to do for a long time now. I have always been fascinated by the hypnotic, melodious cries of the street vendors around Colombia. I also knew that recording these sounds would preserve a very special sense of place that I will be grateful to have when nostalgia for Colombia strikes in a few months.
On Wednesday my dearest friend of them all, Courtney, arrives to Bogota and we’ll pass through Bucaramanga and then onto the coast. On June 14th I head to Iquitos, Peru and then on July 24th I arrive back in Colorado!
This morning I took a photo of my bounty from the plaza downtown to remind myself how good I have it here. 20,000 pesos or roughly $10 will get you: 3 bananas, 3 granadillas, half-pound of spinach, chunk of ahuyama (Colombian pumpkin), 7 tomatoes, 2 carrots, a slice of watermelon, half-pound of gooseberries, half-pound of fava beans, a papaya, spice mix, avocado, half-pound of almonds and 2 onions.
When I set my initial contract with Centro Colombo Americano I was only going to stay until December 2013. My boss suggested that I might want to spend Christmas in Colombia as it´s a very nice time of the year. I scoffed at her idea, thinking of how much I would want to be home in Colorado for Christmas with my family. Come May 2014 and I´m still here at Colombo. I miss everyone dearly from the United States, but have also fallen deeply in love with Latin American culture. I was going to come home once and for all in June, but my arrival has once again been postponed…
In August I´ll be starting a Master´s in Public Health program in Epidemiology at CU-Denver. In order to gain some experience with global public health I decided to create some sort of summer internship for myself while I´m still down in South America. I found out about an NGO connected with CU-Denver called CU Peru that works in the Amazons of Peru. Each summer they train health promoters in the river villages in order to improve overall health in a region that has a very poor level of access to healthcare. I contacted CU Peru and they agreed to have me work with them this summer. I will be spending five weeks living in the jungle helping to conduct trainings and collect data from the villages about the effectiveness of the CU Peru program. And then in July, without question, I will finally return to my beloved Colorado. Living abroad for 7 months beyond what I had planned for and then deciding to spend the last 5 weeks in the Amazon has proved to be a demanding logistical puzzle and I am eternally grateful to my parents for their help with everything. I will see everyone in Colorado on July 24!
Este Domingo salí con los Caminantes de Santander a Umpalá, un pueblo fantasmal en el fondo del Chicamocha. Queda por el Pescedero y Panache. El día empezó con una secuencia familiar de eventos – encuentro tempranísimo en San Pío, viaje por bus por una hora y desayuno típico de caldo, arepa y chocolate.
(La versión en Español aquí.)
This Sunday I went with Caminantes de Santander to Umpalá, a near-ghost town in the bottom of the Chicamocha Canyon. It´s located near the Pescadero and Panache. The day began with a familiar sequence of events – ridiculously early meet-up time in San Pio Park, sleepy bus ride for an hour, and a typical breakfast of soup, arepa and chocolate.