April 30, 2010

Book Club

Book club time again! I look forward to these nights so much because they are such an amazing time to share ideas, thoughts and insights with amazing women. Also, reading is so much more interesting when you have someone to discuss it with afterwards. This month we headed over to Carrie's house for snacks (strawberries and carrot cake!), wine and sharing. I brought the books I read this month and shared a bit about them. I read a lot this month since we had a whole week of Spring Break, so the book sharing was even more diverse than normal! LOVE it!
I started this month by reading The Help, which I picked up after last month's book club because Kelsi read it and loved it. I read all 464 pages in about five days, it was that good! I felt so connected to the characters and I just could not put it down. The Help, by Kathryn Stockett, tells the story of African American house maids living in the 1950s in Jackson, Mississippi. The maids, or as they are otherwise called, "the help", band together to write a collection of stories about what their jobs are actually like. The author, who was raised by her black maid in Mississippi as a young girl, does a fabulous job of managing character development with an intriguing tale.

Historical fiction is definitely one of my favorite genres and ever since reading Walking With the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement in high school, I just cannot get enough of reading about the 1950s and 1960s in America. In summary, I highly recommend this book, and already have told many friends about it. I definitely think its going to be one of those books that makes the rounds to our entire group!
After a quick break from the serious topics to read a chic lit book that was so ridiculously bad I cannot bear to discuss it, I finished this month off with Uwem Akpan's Say You're One of Them as recommended by my friend Catie. This book is the collection of five short stories told through the eyes of children in Africa. The stories are not all universal in length, which was upsetting at times because I enjoyed certain characters more than others, but overall the writing was fantastic. At times Akpan uses French words in his dialogue and since I speak zero French I didn't really get these parts, but I was still able to understand the characters and the story line.

My favorite story was about two little girls who were best friends growing up together in Ethiopia. They spent ever waking moment together until religious conflicts drive their families apart. However, despite their different belief they find a way to communicate. The book ends with a brief, but terrifying account of children in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide. While many of the stories in this book were terribly sad, I still thought it was a fantastic and insightful book. Cheery? No. Thought-provoking? Yes.

I walked away from book club last night with two new books, one of which I am already loving!!!
Til Death Do Us Part by Ingrid Betancourt is a fascinating book so far about a woman who stood against the corruption of Colombian politics, and endangered herself and her family as a result. I got it from a co-worker, Amanda, who wrote about in on her blog here.

I have tried not to read too many reviews in anticipation of reading this book so as not to spoil the ending...but here is a small preview from Amazon.com. I cannot wait to finish it and tell you my thoughts...

In a memoir that sometimes conveys the excitement of a Clancy thriller, Betancourt recounts her remarkable life, from the Paris of her childhood (her father was Colombia's minister of education and ambassador to UNESCO) to present-day Colombia, where she has served as a senator in Bogota and where she plans to launch her 2002 presidential campaign. That is, if she isn't assassinated first. Betancourt announces early on that she is no ordinary politician and that her reminiscences will comprise no ordinary political memoir. But what constitutes exceptional in Colombia, a country awash in political corruption and controlled by a government that is under the thumb of organized crime and vulnerable to the financial lure of illegal drug trafficking? Well, for starters, Betancourt spent her first campaign, for a seat in the House of Representatives, standing along the city's busiest streets, handing out condoms ("[O]ur poster: my photo alongside a picture of a condom, with this slogan: `The best to protect us against corruption.' " She scandalized her parents, her friends, her country, but won her seat in the House. So began Betancourt's campaign against electoral fraud and narcopoliticians, which, despite the death threats and the pressure exerted on her family, continues to this day and which won't end, as her title implies, until she wins or is killed for her efforts. Betancourt's memoir is intelligently written, if occasionally sentimental, and she passionately and clearly describes the consequences of corruption and the dangers of combating it.

Note: After the publication of this book, Betancourt was captured and taken hostage by FARC guerillas in the Colombian jungle for six years. Her second book, Every Silence Has An End, provides details on her thoughts during and after, so I will have to read that next!

April 25, 2010

New Directions for the Colombian Government

(*Yes, I was introduced to the show Glee this weekend, and yes this blog title is a play on that show)
On May 30 of this year Colombians will vote in a presidential election of epic proportions. Up until about six months ago, the race was not too exciting because many expected current president, Alvaro Uribe to be allowed to run for a third term. However, after the Colombian court rejected Uribe's referendum to change the Colombian constitution to allow for this, he gracefully withdrew from the race, thus opening the gates for a full fledged election. Uribe has been president now since 2002, so this will be a big change for Colombia, regardless of the outcome. Politics in any country are often dense and complicated, so here is a breakdown of the current situation.
Background Information
The president is elected by popular vote to a four year term as the head of state. Past presidents are generally elected from one of the two dominant political parties in Colombia, although unlike the United States, third party candidates usually have a viable chance of being elected.
The Election Process
The first round of elections will take place throughout Colombia on May 30 when Colombians votes for one of 12 candidates. Colombian law mandates that in order to win a candidate must receive more than 50% of the overall vote. With the large number of candidates who run, this is typically difficult to achieve, so if necessary a second round of elections will be held on June 20. In the second round of elections only the top two candidates are allowed to run.
The Main Candidates
"Para seguir avanzando, Santos Presidente"
To continue moving forward, Santos for President.
  • Partido de U - With Uribe out of the race, his defense minister, Juan Manuel Santos stepped up as the candidate for El Partido de U (The "U" Party - named for Uribe & for unity). According to his Colombia Reports profile, " Partido de la U candidate Juan Manuel Santos is a Colombian politician, journalist and economist, who comes from one of Colombia's most influential family dynasties. He is the great-nephew of former Colombian President Eduardo Santos, who was the owner of newspaper El Tiempo, and grandson of journalist Eduardo Santos. He is also the cousin of current Vice President Francisco Santos." Santos is the obvious choice for Colombians who support Uribe (most of them) and want to see his agenda followed fairly closely. Followers can read updates from the candidate on Twitter @UneteaSantos.
"Con educacion todo se puede"
With education, everything is possible.
  • Partido Verde (Green Party) - After an initial primary between Enrique Penalosa, Antanas Mockus and Luis Garzon, three former mayors of Bogota and dubbed the "Three Stooges" by Colombian media, Mockus became the leading candidate for this party. In an article I read last week, Mockus was called "the Colombian Obama" for a number of reasons, including the man's "underdog" status (as described by the NY Times here), his "anti-politician" nature, his "outsider" status as someone who typically avoids the typically corrupt political scene of Latin America, and also his use of social media (Facebook and Twitter @AntanasMockus) to connect with voters. He believes that ideas win votes. As his Colombia Reports profile states, Mockus is known throughout Colombia for his unconventional tactics as Bogota's two term mayor. According to the NY Times article, "During his years of service, he dressed as a superhero to fight graffiti, soaped up in his skivvies on TV for water conservation and sent mimes into the capital's streets to chastise misbehaving motorists with a smile." He is also well known for a stunt he pulled as the National University president when he dropped his pants in order to gain the attention of unruly students. Whether you agree with these tactics or not, you have to admit the man is creative. Despite being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease earlier this month, Mockus is running a strong campaign that shows no signs of stopping.
"Con Noemi, Ganas Tu, Gana Colombia"
With Noemi, You win, Colombia Wins
  • Partido Conservador - The Hillary to Mockus' Obama, Conservative Party candidate Noemi Sanin is currently in third place in recent polls. She is pushing heavily to be Colombia's first female president. Her Colombia Reports profile describes her as, "The third of 15 children, Conservative Party candidate Noemi Sanin is a Colombian businesswoman and politician who has served several terms as a Colombian Ambassador. This is the third time that Sanin has run for the presidency. Her critics accuse her with aligning with the government of the day." Followers can check in with her on Twitter @VamosconNoemi.
What's Happening Right Now?
In recent polls, as of Thursday, April 22, Mockus had a 50-44 percent second-round lead over former Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos according to the Centro Nacional de Consultoria polling firm. If he does win, he will be the first Green Party candidate to be president of a country.
For updated information as the situation changes, check out the 2010 Elections section of Colombia Reports (Colombian news in English!). Also, this informative article entitled The Obama Administration and Colombia in 2010 does a fantastic job describing why the Colombian elections will be important worldwide, not just in Colombia.
Update (May 9, 2010)
The front page of the NY Times Global Edition discusses the upcoming elections in this article titled A Maverick Upends Colombian Politics.

April 22, 2010

Write It All Down

Back in December 2009 I shared with you my love of photography and my dreams to one day pursue a career (or at least a serious hobby) in photography. Six months later I have come to realize that not only am I interested in photography, but writing as well.
I have always felt like writing came naturally to me. While I am not a consistent, everyday journal writer, I love the process of writing, I love the possibilities that come with crisp new notebooks or a blank screen. I love the power that a piece of writing can possess. A picture may be worth a thousand words but there is still something to be said for the person who can write 500 words and make you feel like you are living in that exact moment. For me, writing makes me honest, vulnerable and the creative, and lately I cannot get enough of it. Several times within the past two weeks I have just felt a sudden urge to go sit at Juan Valdez with a grande vanilla cinnamon iced mocha and just write it all down.
The more I explore around on blogs, Twitter, Facebook and the internet in general, the more I come across fascinating people doing amazing things... like traveling and getting other people to pay for it. GENIUS. Now, I am not setting my sights on this just yet as this would entail a whole lifestyle change, however... I am interested in writing more about my time here in Colombia. I love reading what my friends and family think, but I am also curious about the ongoing conversations happening with other expats in Colombia, Latin America, and the world in general.
So, just as any other extroverted, goal driven, mind over matter 21st century woman would do, I am making it happen. :) Haha. After months of following Holly's posts at Medellin Living, another great travel blog about life in Medellin, Colombia, she mentioned that she was leaving Medellin and the site was in need of new contributors. I emailed the main editor about the possibility of writing for the site despite my location in Cali, not Medellin. A few weeks later and I have written two posts so far, with a third on the way. While updating two blogs is definitely an undertaking on top of a teaching schedule, I feel invigorated by this opportunity to further interact with the community of expats in Colombia and the world in general!!

Check out my first two posts here:

April 19, 2010

Happy Birthday Joe!

Yes, I celebrated it with my students today. I also may or may not have written it on the white board and outlined it with coordinating red and blue bubble outlines. Whatever, don't judge. He's fabulous, an amazing catcher, a batting champ, a golden glove winner, and a true home grown down-to-earth Minnesota boy. I hope he had a fabulous birthday!! :) Cheers to the Twins being 9-4 on the season so far!
p.s. Speaking of catchers and adorable-ness have you seen our new backup catcher???!?!?!! Don't get me wrong, I miss Mike Redmond....but, Drew Butera, who we got from the NY Mets in 2008 in exchange for a trade involving Luis Castillo, is gorgeous. He made his debut last week when we played the White Sox and based on appearance he will fit in perfectly with the rest of the Twins. Do we have the best looking team in baseball, or what??
Random baseball trivia fact: His father Sal played for the Twins from 1980 to '82 and again in 1987. They are the first father-son combo in Twins history.

Minnesota Girl

Just saw this on Etsy and fell in love immediately! My mom has had this poem/painting hanging in our main bathroom forever and one of the lines reads, "No matter where I roam, [Minnesota] will always be my home. I totally agree with this, as I still use Minnesota as a reference point for so much of my personality, my life and my relationships.
Truly, no matter where I am in the world I will always be a Minnesota girl at heart, which is what makes this necklace perfect for me!!! Is it worth the $50 for sterling silver??? Thoughts?

April 18, 2010

Rules? What Rules? (A Trip to the Cali Zoo)

The Zoologico de Cali is the number one thing to do in Cali, according to Lonely Planet, so after months of talking about it, we finally got it together and went there! The zoo is a ten minute cab ride from my apartment, so Kelsi, Hana and I headed over there on Sunday afternoon. We paid $9.500 pesos to get in, which is sort of expensive for Colombian standards, but is an awesome price in comparison with US zoos. The Cali Zoo features tons of animals that I had never seen in the zoo before, or ever in real life, so I really enjoyed walking around, even if I not much of an "animal person".
In walking around the zoo I was so impressed by the gorgeous landscaping, nicely paved paths and helpful signs! The paths of the zoo are in better condition than the Cali roads - with better signage too!
Kelsi and I at the entrance to the zoo.
Some of the gorgeous landscaping at the zoo.
Who knew? The Rio Cali runs right through the zoo and twists around the grounds - so cool!
Monkey/gorilla combination.
How cool is this? A sign shows the differences between the "hands" and "feet" of primates...including humans.
However, the zoo was not all cheery fun for everyone. After about three hours at the zoo it became apparent that Colombians do not understand zoo etiquette. In all of my trips to the zoo over the years, I have always assumed the "norms" at the zoo were understood and accepted by all. I consider these "norms" to be things like:
  • Do not feed the animals.
  • Do not climb on the animals' cages.
  • Do not throw trash in, around, or near the animal cages.
  • Do not pick up your children so they can climb or sit on the animal cages.
  • Do not taunt the animals or bang on their cages.
  • Do not touch the animals.
  • Keep large, dangerous animals in appropriately sized cages.
  • Repair any damage to animal cages immediately.
Well, apparently Colombians are not all about the zoo etiquette. Rather, they blatantly ignore ALL RULES.
Sign at the entrance to the zoo...listing what the rules were supposed to be. Loosely translated this sign says respect the environment, gardens and cages which are designed for your protection. Avoid hitting the glass on the exhibits. Do not feed the animals, they have special diets. Do not throw objects at the animals, as this may hurt them.
We started to notice that not all was secure about our zoo experience when we found this huge brown bear asleep in a cage with about an 8 foot wall around it. Hmmm....shouldn't it be higher??
Yes, small child, please climb the fence, wave your little mask thing at the animal as it sticks its arm out the cage. Where were the parents, you ask??? VIDEOTAPING!! At least they will have their sons mauling on tape to show the grandparents.
More mask trouble. Little girl drops her mask in the llama cage? No worries, Dad will hoist himself over the wall to retrieve it as Mom looks on.
Sure, feed the llamas with random brush leaves. Hold your child while you do it. Brilliant.
Cute, now this snake can cuddle up with this plastic soda bottle.
***Disclaimer: This really was the only trash I saw in or near any cages, so it is not at all the norm at the Cali Zoo, but we were already so amused by all the other broken rules, that I had to photograph.
Perfect - feed the bird some of your chips. Lovely.
Well, this looks secure. Solid crack down the viewing window of this animals cage - I'm sure it will be fine, its just a Bengal tiger. Wikipedia, source of all legit information tells me, "Tigers are known to not like the presence of humans in their territory, since they like to be alone." Fantastic.
Despite all zoo adversities, we prevailed and the entire day was a fabulous outing. I love playing tourist in the city I live in and discovering new spots in Cali is so fun!
Me - as a turtle. In a turtle shell! Hooray! :)
Here's hoping your weekend was full of equally amusing ridiculous-ness.

April 17, 2010

Sports Day Round Dos

Yesterday was the second and final Sports Day at school. Similar to the first Sports Day, all students from grades 6-8 are organized in houses, Barracudas, Sting Rays, Squid Squads and Dolphins. I do not really know where the aquatic theme started from, but alas, these are the house names. I am a Sting Ray. Students receive these "house assignments" when they enter middle school in grade 6 and they remain with their house for all three years.
Around my school it is common knowledge that the Sting Rays are the worst team and have been for a long time. It is assumed that we will come in last place every time. This is quite difficult for me, because I do not really like to lose, and I do not like starting the day with the assumption that my team is going to lose. How am I supposed to motivate my students to have fun and participate when they think there is no point? That is zero fun, for everyone.
Basically, I started the day tired from being up too late grading, and crabby that my team is the worst. The beginning of the day only confirmed the lame-ness of the Sting Rays when we were asked to go first for the team cheers and my students sat their doing nothing, while all the other teams stand up cheer and cause a general ruckus. My colleague, Scott and I just stared at each other with facial expressions that basically suggested we would rather just be teaching that be dealing with this business.
However, as always happens when one has zero or negative expectations, things only improved from there. The day started with some track & field races and games, such as the 100m dash, relay races, three-legged race, and more. The students who got into these activities had a blast, and I once again loved watching my students excel at things in a non-academic setting. After a short morning break, students broke off into smaller groups for the organized sports of soccer, softball and basketball. Students had signed up on teams in advance, so they already knew which sports they would be playing. I was assigned to supervise softball, shocker, I know and I LOOOOOOVED it.
Basically, all the softball/baseball kids are the nice ones (more reasons why baseball is a fabulous sport) and I had a blast with them on the field. While I did cheer a bit louder for the Sting Rays team, I cheered on all the teams and played third base coach. I pretty much sent kids running home at every opportunity, which took advantage of the limited throwing/catching skills of middle schoolers, but totally made the games more exciting and higher scoring. Hooray! My students still don't really understand the fly ball rule (you can only tag up after the ball is caught), and I did try to invoke the Infield Fly Rule before the baseball activities guy reminded me that our kids are 11-13, but overall it was a successful venture. And, wait for it.....STING RAYS WON!!!! Champions of softball is good enough for me, cause let's be honest now, baseball is all that matters in life.
The day finished with an eighth grade game of dodgeball, Colombian style, which means as soon as you are out, you go stand around the outside boundaries of the opposite team and if you get a ball, you can throw it at the opposite team members who are still in. This makes the game really confusing, fast-paced, intense and great to watch. Steph and I were somewhat irritated on seeing our girls always pass the balls to the boys to throw, rather than throwing the balls themselves, but overall I enjoyed watching. And....absolutely STING RAYS WON dodgeball too! Rockstars! By this point we realized that we were doing so well we had to do better than last place. Sure enough, when they announced fourth place to the Squid Squads, all the Sting Rays cheered (yeah, yeah, yeah limited good sportsmanship, I know) because we weren't last! We ended up in third place, only 5 points shorts of second place!!! This definitely bodes well for future sports days. Maybe by the time I leave Colombia the Sting Rays will have a new dynasty. :) In the mean time...not last is good enough for me. :)
Lesson learned: Zero expectations means any reward is a good one.

April 14, 2010

Happy Birthday Maria!

"We might be laughing a bit too loud, oh but that never hurt no one."
Happy Birthday Maria (aka Roly Poly)!
When I was thirteen years old I went to Camp Sonlight, AKA church summer camp, for a week in June. At this camp I made some serious lifelong friends, and traveled back for a few years after as a counselor. While times change, people change and you change in response, Maria and Anna have been constants in my life over the last ten years. At times our lives have felt creepily parallel and similar, and we really went through many of life's "firsts" together.
From the time Maria jumped up into my top bunk and scared the pants off me coming back from the camp bathroom to the fabulous going away party she held for me before moving to Colombia, she has kept me laughing out loud at her quirky, fun-loving, hysterical attitude. Almost all of my funniest stories from high school involve Maria in some way or another.
Today she turns 23, so Maria Rose - as you embark on your 23rd year of life, I hope you continue to enrich the world around you with your humor, your sassy spark, and your overall love for what life has to offer you.
All my love,

April 12, 2010

sweatpants! sweatshirt! socks! oh my!

The rainy season has arrived here in Cali, Colombia and call me crazy, call me dreary, call me Eeyore (Winnie the Pooh reference - anyone?), call me Seattle-bound (I'm not), but I am L-O-V-I-N-G it! Everyday, usually in the evening or during the night, the intense Cali heat subsides and gives way to massively delicious grey rain clouds and it POURS. Lightning, thunder, the whole works. I love rain storms - there is just something about the fresh, crisp water falling from the air that makes me feel like anything is possible, like anything can happen.
Here in Cali, the rain not only makes me want to lie in bed and daydream for hours, but it also provides a huge relief to the normal heat of the city. Yesterday after a huge rainstorm mid-day we opened all the windows and I spent the rest of the day in my University of Wisconsin - La Crosse sweatpants, socks and Minnesota Twins sweatshirt. Living in weather that constantly feels like summer definitely has its perks, don't get me wrong.
However, when we get to the heart of the matter, I am a Minnesota girl at heart, and us Minnesotans, we don't mess around with our seasons.
There are four of them and sweatshirts are standard wardrobe material for at least three. I spent most of Sunday reveling in the fact that whenever I felt just the slightest chill in the air I could snuggle into my warm clothes.
*Disclaimer: I think it was probably still like 65 degrees Fahrenheit yesterday - which after a long Minnesota winter feels like beach weather. However, after 7 months at 80 or above, 65 felt like bundle up weather to me. This makes me realize that the first winter back in Minnesota is probably going to kill me slowly - I am going to need an apartment/house with a fireplace and a good coffee shop next door. Add that to the future plans. Awesome. Blossom.

outdoor baseball is giving me carpal tunnel

TWINS WIN! The 2010 Home Opener at Target Field, our brand new, more fabulous than fabulous outdoor baseball stadium! In case you haven't figured it out by now I am more than a bit obsessed with Minnesota sports, more specifically the Minnesota Twins, and most specifically your 2010 AL MVP - Joe Mauer.
So great for them to win the home opener - however, I personally struggled with the situation thanks to some fool at Direct TV. According to the Direct TV guide, the game was supposed to be broadcast MLB Extra Innings, which would have meant English speaking announcers from Minnesota. In other words, announcers who were just as excited as I was about this momentous event!
However, after rushing home from school, not only was the game NOT on MLB Extra Innings, but ESPN2 in Spanish had the game BLACKED OUT. There was a huge black square over the screen where my beloved Twins were kicking some Red Sox butt! DISASTER. I freaked out and have had trouble recovering ever since. Well, not to worry, my roomie Hana figured out that the big black square went away whenever the volume button was pressed on the TV. (Yes, I realize this sounds ridiculous, but this is seriously what happened!!)
Basically, what it comes down to is I sat in my living room and watched three innings of baseball while clicking the volume button consistently every 3 seconds or so.
The Twins won and I have carpal tunnel - so I guess you can't win them all. But the Twins just might, so keep watching! :)

Over the Weekend: Apartment Hunting

Moving. Ugh. I detest it. I hate packing up everything I own into little boxes to be transplanted to some new location only to open them again and set up. I mean, don't get me wrong, I love my new surroundings once I am there. And I love exploring new areas and trying out new places - its just that getting there is such a process. Moving always makes me wish I owned less stuff. After moving all four years in college, moving to Colombia in August, and moving again in January, I felt like all I did in life was pack and move from one place to the next.

Well, that time of year is here again. The lease on the apartment I currently live in with Steph & Hana expires at the end of July. Next year, I plan to live with my friend Kelsi, so this weekend we spent some time apartment hunting. Apartment hunting in Cali is a bit different than in the States because people here are more reliant on word-of-mouth and foot traffic than they are on printed or online advertisement. The Cali newspaper El Pais offers some listings, but without complete details, without pictures and without addresses. (Ridiculous, I know.) As a result, we spent most of our Saturday morning and afternoon walking around my neighborhood looking for 'To Rent' signs. We found some places we are interested in seeing, but we did not get to look at very many since it was a Saturday and not much business happens here on the weekends. The nice thing about the word-of-mentality is that if people around happen to notice you looking for an apartment they are usually more than willing to give auggestions, offer advice or even walk with you for a little while (Yes, this actually happened on Saturday!).

This week we will continue the search in hopes of finding ourselves a decent looking, 2-3 bedroom with a balcony and hopefully a delightful rooftop. Here's hoping!
Happy Monday!

April 10, 2010

The Colombian dentist has a TV? Yes please.

I think you officially live somewhere when you pay bills there (check), grocery shop there regularly (check), bank there (check) and lastly, go to the dentist there. Well, just call me a caleña (woman from Cali, Colombia), cause I think I'm home. Yesterday Kelsi and I headed to a school-recommended dentist for some good old fashioned teeth cleaning.
The dentist for me has always been a bit of a battle for a few reasons. I hate how long everything in health care takes in the States. Do I really need to fill out seven different forms that state the same information? Also, I don't like flossing...and dentists do...so we basically has a conflict of interest all the time. I have two permanent retainers that were put in after I had braces and flossing with those little threader things is quite possibly the most obnoxious use of my time ever. I would rather watch the Yankees play than be forced to floss my teeth. My dentist did not really ever agree with this mentality.
Armed with my dentist hatred, I was not really looking forward to the experience, but I figured I better handle it before going home this summer. Kelsi and I walked into the waiting room about 20 minutes before our appointments. The receptionist greeted us in English and Spanish, had us fill out one sheet of paperwork, and then we waited to see the dentist. He greeted us right on time, and I went in first. His dental hygienist was there too and I figured she would do all the work, just as in the States, but it was totally the opposite. The actual dentist cleaned and polished my teeth, while she was just there more as an assistant!
So I sit down in the chair, lean back and get ready for the lecture about flossing. Instead he first checks my teeth for cavities, then congratulates me on not having any! Shakes my hand and everything before we get down to the teeth cleaning. Before I realize what is happening the assistant places headphones on my and a remote in my hand. What kind of brain-washing dentist's office is this place, anyway? What, are they going to have me listen to the Spanish version of "Why you must floss if you want to live past age 30"? About this time, I see it. The TV. Installed in the ceiling. For me to watch. While the dentist cleans my teeth. I'm sorry, what?? THIS IS AWESOME. When his face wasn't in the way I spent a lovely 25 minutes catching up on some Sportscenter and old 90210 episodes. LOVE IT. Half hour later and I was all set to go with clean teeth, a friendly dentist and no lecture about flossing! Unfortunately the power went out, which is typical here during the rainy season, so Kelsi has to go back next week. However, overall I was totally loving the dentist experience here in Cali. He was so nice and friendly! Hooray for just one more thing that make me feel like I am truly building a life for myself here.

April 8, 2010

Life. Love. Baseball. Music. Twitter.

be a best friend
tell the truth
over use i love you
go to work
do your best
dont out smart your common sense
never let your prayin knees get lazy
and love like crazy
[lee brice, "love like crazy"]
I cannot get this Lee Brice song out of my head this week! Not so much because I am loving anyone person lately (not so much in land of Colombia - zero dateable men), but so many things are just making this week ROCK! In no particular order...
  • Had a little phone chat en espanol with a man from Direct TV. He ordered me the MLB Extra Innings package in less than 5 minutes on the phone (a miracle in Colombia). Within an hour we had three glorious channels of all MLB Baseball, all the time. Oh, and it cost $59.000 or $30 USD. FOR. THE SEASON. Colombian cost of living = awesome. The same thing in the States is over $100.
  • This means I have watched TWO Twins games this week! During those game Joe, JJ and Justin all hit homers. LOVE seeing JJ Hardy in that MN jersey!

  • BUT if I can't watch the Twins? Don't worry, I will still know the result thanks to some genius person who had the insight to set up this helpful and appropriately named website.
  • After a somewhat hesitant start in joining Twitter a few months ago, of course I am now loooooving it. The information in small tidbits is perfect to quickly scroll through, and I can always click on a link if I want more information. Also, even though I am not currently looking for a job, the networking opportunities are awesome! Great people I am enjoying following???
@TeacherJobsMPLS - Staying up to date on the teacher scene in the Twin Cities.
@lonelyplanet - Great travel tips, advice and articles!
@nytimes - Gotta see all the breaking headlines from a reliable source.
@TwinsNow - Self-explanatory :)
... and so many more!
  • Going apartment hunting with Kelsi this weekend! I am super excited to live with her next year. Mainly cause right now I feel like half of all commuting time is spent going to see her or do something with her, so living together will really just provide us more time to maximize our awesome-ness together.
  • After about 7,000 years of raining my mom FINALLY finished Eclipse! More Twilight fans! Hooray. I seriously need more because my friends in Colombia are starting to mock my love for Twilight and Taylor Lautner. So now my mother is on my side. Hooray! I cannot wait for this movie to come out on the eve of my friend Liz's birthday, a mere 7 days after my return to the US of A!
Jacob Black is my hero. :)
  • I used to make fun of my friends Anna and Andy for meeting at Target, then dating, and still returning to the Target food court (properly called, Food Ave, according to Andy) for dates. However, after seeing the sweet pics Anna took on their Target employees only tour of Target Field last week I should probably get over it. Thank God my father has all priorities in line and has secured tickets for at least two Twins games while I am home this summer. I definitely need more since Joe almost never plays day games and I am really psyched to check out the Twins' new home under the lights, but two is a good start.
View from the first level! REAL GRASS! No more of that weird turf business.
LOVE > the scoreboard, the sky, the skyline, the Minnesota icon with a little cartoon "Minnie and Paul" (For the cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis)
  • Let's just talk about how amazing James Morrison is. No, not Jim Morrison and the Doors, although they rock too. No, James Morrison. Do yourself a favor and listen to the song "Broken Strings" and then listen on repeat for about the next week.
  • Talked to all three of my brothers yesterday at different times! They are growing into such amazing guys who I am incredibly proud of - I cannot wait to go home and see them as much as possible this summer. I miss them. all. the. time.
  • Taught my students about arc length and area of sectors this week - pretty intense stuff for 8th graders and they rocked it! I thought they were going to freak out about simplifying fractions and using pi but they totally handled it, I am so proud of them!
  • Speaking of students - one of my students told me I looked nice today and I said thanks...then he was like yeah, with your curly hair like that you look like a model. Hello self-esteem boost. I love my students sometimes. Mostly after I just had a week long break from them. See me in about 10 days for an update ;)
  • MORE info I got from Twitter - Aidan is going to be in the second Sex & the City movie! Yes! Even if I do love Carrie & Big I loved Aidan the whole time he was on the show and he is definitely a welcome presence in the movie!!
I am sure there is more, but for now suffice to say this is a great week in Colombia! Happy Thursday night aka almost Friday aka almost the weekend! Cheers!

April 6, 2010

Island of Monkeys

Amazon Trip Update #3
Our last stop in Leticia before our time in the jungle came to an end was at Monkey Island (Isla de los Micos). A few friends had visited the island before and loved it, so we decided to check it out. I was a bit nervous going into the trip because animals and I don't really get along. Or more accurately...I am terrified of animals and they sense my fear, so they try to befriend me, which creeps me out further.
So on Friday we headed out to Monkey Island on a day trip run by the Decameron, an all inclusive resort, in Leticia. By the time we got to the island we realized we were with a bunch of people who couldn't hack it in the jungle so they did catered day trips. Needless to say, we did not make many friends on the trip. When they started to lead us on a walk around the island we were all hot, sweaty, sick of mosquitos, and just in general struggling with life. We prevailed however, and did see some cool looking monkeys and take some sweet shots feeding them. And yes, I took the pictures so as not to have too close of involvement with the monkeys.
Toucan living with the monkeys on the island. Gorgeous.
Hana getting in there to feed the monkeys! Monkeys actually eat bananas...who knew?
Kelsi - loving the monkeys :)
Eating out of the palm of her hand!
After monkey viewing we had some lunch, which was shockingly delicious and then headed back to Leticia. Overall, I am glad we went to Monkey Island because I enjoyed seeing more of the Amazon wildlife, but the catered Decameron trip? Not really worth the pesos. We were way too jungled out to be able to deal with it. :)
Well, that's it. The end of my jungle related posts and pictures. Thanks for reading and following along - everyone's comments are so great to hear!!
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