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Heather’s Travel Diary

Monday, 16 Apr 2007

Location: Bogota, Colombia

MapUn grande HOLA a TODOS!
I know, my indolence is completely unacceptable, and this very second I promise you I will be more consistent with my journal entries. My sloth-like attitude towards maintenance stems from my general dislike of computers and internet cafes in general. I have, however, been able to maintain (in between all of the bouts of awesomeness) my handwritten journal, so, from me to you, a piece of my life...

4 de Abril, 2007,
A Colombian paradise. Surrounded by palms, the cloudless sky beams down sunrays which dazzle the aquamarine pool. Combined with strong sunscreen, bottled water, and a good book* life probably couldn't get any better. The days are spent dipping in and out of the pool, and the nights are Spanish school with my own personal professors, the Arroyave Familia, and Jose Cuervo.

This excerpt is from one of my lovely days in Espinal, a nice town 3 hours south of Bogota. A wonderful Colombiana named Catalina who I was introduced to by another wonderful Americana named Angie took me to this haven, to her Finca (farm), and spoiled me rotten, along with her brother and boyfriend. They have made an enormous impression on my trip, and I really appreciate how hospitable and generous they have been!
OK, back to Espinal...alot warmer than Bogota, as it is further down in elevation=days full of hot sun. I had the delightful sensation of pleasing my tastebuds with typical foods of this region, lechona, avena, and tamales tolimense. The former, Lechona, is a type of pork dish, which is served right out of the little piggy himself (will upload pictures later this week). Avena, my number one drink of choice, is made of oatmeal and yogurt, has the texture of baby pablum, and is served cold. I know, it sounds terrible, but trust me, once it hits your tongue, you are instantly addicted. The latter, tamales, specifically made in the Tolima region, are made with rice, chicken, a type of lentil, and flavor fit for Gods. Wrapped in palm leaves and served piping hot, they will surely satisfy anyones appetite (what, am I writing for some food column, or my journal...I guess food has been added to my list of passions).
One day out in Espinal was spent in search for the lost waterfalls (cascadas). The 4 of us hiked in the hills of Colombia (ohh wait for these picts too) and luckily came across a campesino who showed us the way. I will never forget wading through waist deep water with a bottle of champagne in one arm and a giant jug of water resting on my other shoulder...protecting the goods. Las cascadas were incredible, there was an exact location in la cascada where I lay on the rock and the falling water dropped onto my back with such inertia that far surpassed any massage I have ever had! The more amusing part of this excursion into the heart of Colombian countryside was our encounter with the paramilitaries. Haha, just kidding- it was finding our way back. No one had any sense of direction, most likely indicative of our state we were in hiking into the site*, but also just because everything was quite similar. I was able to recognize many landmarks, but we didn't arrive back at Santiago's (Cata's boyfriend) truck until dark, and for a small while we were walking in the dark. I honestly thought we would spend a long and sleepless night in this eden but I suppose our good karma prevailed and we survived.

Now, here I am back in Bogota, I have begun my Spanish classes, which is interesting. I feel small progression every day, but also feel lost when people speak too quickly. The biggest challenge for me, for learning a language, is not the conversation. What I lack is formal knowledge of english grammar...which, in my opinion should be emphasized more in our education system.

Bogota is a marvelous city with expressive and active youth. The graffiti is one thing here I wish could infuse with Canadian culture. Archaeological terminology defines graffiti as "an ancient drawing or writing scratched on a wall or other surface." In Bogota, the history (in action) of their culture decorates the unwanted space of walls, and it is inspirational, creative, thought provoking, and esthetically appealing (look for picts also).

Well, this is my recap, a lot to take in at once, but I am sure most of you reading this will be glad to know I am alive. I hope that everyone can have similar experiences, and that you are all doing really good back home, or where ever you may be.
Big kisses to all (grande besos a todos)!!!!
Hasta la proxima...

* Some objects/information has been ommited due to censorship ha ha, woo!