Juliet Ju’s Latin American Adventure – Colombia 10

COLOMBIA

Well, I just wrote this entire blog and then my computer decided to shut itself down unexpectedly and I lost the whole thing! Raah! Not my day!

So I am back in Colombia after having spent a week in Ibague with the family of Diana and Cristianas Dad. Ibague is located 4 hours west from Bogota and as you descend from the Andes the climate is significantly warmer however we were not so lucky and ended up with quite a few rainy days. We tried to kid ourselves one day and go to the pool. While we managed to catch some rays the water was freezing!!

If anyone has read Gabriel Garcia Marquezs One Hundred Years of Solitude the you will understand the situation of the house I stayed in Ibague.  This family literally stepped straight out of that novel! There are three generations living in one house. The adorable abuelos, abuelo and abuela, the parents and grandparents of the house. Abuelito is recovering from an operation and still has a catheter but he is such a sweet heart and is always running up and down the stairs to fin where the action is even though the doctors have told him to stay in bed. Abuelita runs the house. She is the true matriarchal figure but has a fabulous quirky sense of humour. One day she came into where I was reading and gave me a gorgeous wooden beaded bracelet so as not to forget her but I certainly wouldnt forget he soon even without the bracelet. The two of them are so sweet that I found it hard to put sugar in their coffee!

Four of the abuelos seven children still live in the house. The youngest is there because even after achieving his degree in industrial engineering he cant fin a job. It is a serious problem in Colombia. There are just no jobs for young professionals the result being that many are looking for opportunities overseas and hence Colombia is loosing its young minds. Two other tios Javier and Carlos also live in the house. Javier has lived their since his divorce. He is learning Portuguese and was so interested in my trip around South America. Every time I spoke to him would speak to me in Portuguese which was a little difficult because it always took me a while to figure out whether he was speaking in a weird Spanish accent or speaking a language I dont speak. Also considering I dont speak a word of Portuguese the conversation always seemed very amusing to him and not so amusing to me! However when I left Ibague he presented me with such a lovely gift of a full copy of his Portuguese workbook complete with a copy of the audio CD so that I can begin learning Portuguese  before I go to Brazil. Such a beautiful gift!! And then there is tio Carlos who is suffering from some kind of mental illness bus every so often he gets a moment of lucidity and begins to totally freak out that he is losing his life and that he will lose his job and his wife (who comes to visit him every day but cant support him in their house anymore).

Tia Margarita is a single mother who shares one of the rambling upstairs bedrooms with her seven year old daughter Maria Jose very cheeky and a little spoilt but still super cute! Tia and Abuelita run the house from the kitchen where they spend all day churning out meals to feel the immense number of people in the house. Finally there is Carolina, the 15 year old black skinned live in maid, from the coast of Colombia. She spent the whole week marvelling at my eyes (she has never seen blue eyes before).  

So many intertwined relationships! This is the kind of place where you can find a seat in a quite corner, not say anything all day and still be thoroughly entertained. I was treated like an absolute princess. I was unable to do a thing! My clothes were removed from my room and washed (by hand! No washing machines here!). There is no hot water in the house but every morning I had a baby bath filled with hot water boiled on the stove. I had three meals a day served to me hot from the kitchen. I felt completely ridiculous! Of course I was just living the life of the any of the men in this Colombian household but watching the women scrub the shirts of the men who carelessly dropped them on the floor it felt very unjust to be treated as a princess when these women clearly already had plenty of work to do! One day I managed to convince abuelita to let me cook lunch. The enormous task of cooking lunch for 15 people took me 2 hours of preparation. And as a took the dish out of the oven a put it on the side board next to the sink where is promptly exploded into a thousand pieces! Now mum has warned me that you shouldnt put hot things out of the oven on cold surfaces, but as it has never actually happened to me I didnt actually believe her!! Well mum consider yourself believed! Bugger! Of course we couldnt eat any of the food and I now had 15 hungry people waiting to be served lunch.  Abuelita came to the rescue, shushed me out of the kitchen and whipped up some rice and plantane chip thingos in a matter of minutes. I was completely defeated! Still quite red faced about the whole thing!

While in general Colombia is pretty safe. I was alarmed one day when we were told to stay indoors because they were helicopters circling and that meant that there was guerrilla activity in the area!! What?! Needless to say I stayed well within doors and nothing ended up transpiring that day anyway. Safety issues do suck!!! I would really like to go to Cali in the south of Colombia known as one of the salsa capitals of the world, also the home of Claudias family, but the Australian government says not to travel there. I also had the plan to cross the boarder to Venezuela by bus from the coastal town of Santa Marta but the government has said that the boarder is too dangerous. Even if I take the risk I wont have any travelling insurance. So that means I have to take a 26 hour bus back to Bogota to fly over the boarder to Venezuela when I would be right there!! And it is going to cost a pretty penny as well. But then if something were to happen at the boarder there is no way I would be thinking well this is worth it for the money I saved!!  

So now I am back in Bogota and the thing at the forefront of mind is that I seem to have misplaced my camera. I forgot to take it with me to Ibague, or so I thought but maybe I lost it on the way. I cant find it anywhere and the question now seems to be whether I buy another one. Cameras are a lot more expensive here so if I buy a new one the whole replacement cost wont be covered by insurance and what if the other one (which is perfect) shows up after I have bought another one? But at the same time I love taking photos of my trip especially for all of you guys. The plan for now is to wait a couple of days and nothing shows up to start shopping! Damn!!

On a more cheery note yesterday I had my first rock climbing class! It was so great! I love the gym where I am doing it. It has a cafe where everyone hangs out after climbing and everyone is really nice.  My teacher is great and I have already learnt two methods of guardar. Sorry I have no idea how you say that in English. Actually quite weird, because I never climbed in Australia I never learnt any of the climbing vocabulary in English so I only know it in Spanish! Ha ha! Anyway was super awesome! My arms are a bit painful today but not too bad. My next class is on Wednesday I am totally pumped.

Sorry I have no photos to accompany this post but I lost my camera (in case you didnt already get that from my paragraph of complaining about it!! Ha ha!).

 

Posted from Colombia:

posted Saturday November 2008