Holy Week Part 2

For my last bit of Holy Week time off I went with my friend Josh to the biggest climbing area around these parts – La Mojarra. Neither of us has climbing equipment here, but we were able to tag along with some friends and I made it halfway up a 5.10a. We spent the rest of the day relaxing at the Refugio La Roca hostel and playing some Rummikub. On Sunday we went to one of my favorite spots – the farmer’s market in La Mesa. I love it so much because it is a veritable food paradise. We enjoyed some macadamia nut ice cream, arepas de chocolo [sweet corn], curuba juice [banana passionfruit], pan de yuca and strawberries with cream. While we were sitting around snacking a Colombian friend taught us two sayings that I found amusing.

Son como uña y mugre. They’re like a fingernail and dirt. This saying refers to two people who are inseparable, like a fingernail and the dirt that gets under it.

“You left me like a potato without ketchup…like a fingernail without dirt…and you’re the dirt!”

Coca-cola mata tinto. Coca-cola kills coffee. This refers to when somebody leaves one thing for something better, they leave coffee for coca-cola. Although it’s not the case with me, it’s supposed to refer to the fact that most people would rather drink coca-cola than coffee. For example a person goes out with a group of friends, but then runs into another friend and ditches their original group of friends. The person’s abandoned friends would say “Coca cola mata tinto!”




Mini-Aventura in Charalá

Right now I’m in the middle of a ten-day vacation thanks to Holy Week. My friend Monica and I wanted to travel somewhere, so in true Colombian fashion we met at the bus terminal on Tuesday afternoon with no destination in mind and about $50 in our pockets. Her friend Juan Diego came along as well and the three of us hopped a bus for San Gil.

A tantalizing display of treats in the bus terminal waiting room.

Tempted by a tantalizing display of treats in the bus terminal waiting room.

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Daily Life

As I begin to realize that my days in Bucaramanga are numbered I’ve been taking extra joy in the more mundane details of daily life that are uniquely Colombian. My favorite weekly chore is going to the plaza downtown to buy my groceries. The plaza is a giant four-story building full of fruit, veggies, fresh eggs, restaurants, grocery store items, nuts, spices – anything you could need!! There’s even a witchy section on the top floor where they sell incense, crystals, candles, dried herbs, tarot cards and the like. The first floor is devoted almost exclusively to vegetables and the second floor is home to fruits. As you walk down the aisles there is an overwhelming array of produce in an eye-pleasing variety of colors. Continue reading

Betulia [English]

(La versión en español aquí.)

While the rest of Bucaramanga was stumbling home from a late night out at the bars I was making my way out of bed and to San Pio park at 3 in the morning on Sunday. I met my hiking group, Caminantes de Santander, and we boarded the buses for Betulia. Betulia is a town and municipality in our department of Santander, located 2.5 hours to the south of Bucaramanga near Zapatoca.

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A very Colombian problem – big bus unable to navigate the narrow streets of a colonial town.

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Betulia [Español]

Mientras todo el mundo estaba saliendo el bar después de una noche larga, yo estaba madrugándome y caminando para San Pio a las 3 por la mañana el Domingo. Encontré a los Caminantes de Santander y nos abordamos los buses para Betulia. Betulia es un pueblo y municipio de Santander que queda 2.5 horas al sur de Bucaramanga por Zapatoca.

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Nuestro bus atrapado en las calles estrechas de Betulia.

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I’m helping a friend translate a super interesting documentary about Pedro Emilio Gamboa Botia, better known as Peligam. He’s an 87-year-old man still living in Bucaramanga who pioneered 1-hour photo developing and was the first in the city to play street hockey. He’s also a poet and an artist and all around interesting man. Here’s the trailer for the documentary.


There´s a fairly new shop in Bucaramanga called Naif which sells all sorts of handmade treats. I was tickled to learn of its existence because there are no other shops like it here. They put on workshops fairly regularly and last weekend held one about weaving in the tradition of the Guanes – the indigenous people that lived in this area before the Spaniards wiped them out. The workshop was being held at a hostel in the desert oasis of La Mojarra – an area in the mountains I´ve been to before to go hiking and climbing. As a long-time lover of handicrafts it took little convincing to get me to sign up.

On Saturday morning we met at the store and headed up to the Juan Palitos hostel in a van. We had breakfast and then started collecting bamboo to make our weaving frames. I was excited to learn that the first step of weaving was hacking away at bamboo with a machete.

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