Sunday, March 23, 2014

Cali, Colombia

I know this is a delayed post but for those who were wondering, yes I did arrive in Cali (city in Colombia not California) 3 days ago and I am safe and sound. It's just been a little hectic settling down and getting time to blog. Okay who I'm I kidding, settling down has actually been made very easy by my roommate and her family it's the heat that has slowed me down and made me feel a bit lazy and not motivated to do much. Guilty as charged!

My flight to Cali was surprisingly uneventful considering the fact that I was traveling on a one way ticket and was expecting drama at the airport. I had heard that Colombia might want to see a departure ticket to ensure that I don't over stay my visit to the country. The guy at immigration just asked me why I was visiting Cali and I said I was visiting as a tourist and also wanted to learn Spanish. He flipped through my passport then stamped it and said "Bienvenida." That was it, I had just been welcomed to my new city.

My first impression of Cali when I got outside the airport was that it was hot as my roommate had told me but not as hot as Panama City, thank God!!! Cali has a big Afro Colombian population that it makes it easy for me to fit right in until I open my mouth.

My roommate is amazing and so is her family. I got to know her through a mutual friend who suggested that I connect with her if I was ever visiting Colombia. The first time I visited Colombia we never got to meet because I had not planned on visiting her city so I sort of forgot about her connection until I decided I wanted to go back to Colombia a second time.

We were in contacted through online chats and Skype and even though she doesn't speak English and I don't speak Spanish, we still managed to communicate thanks to google translate. Isn't technology amazing? On Skype I would really struggle through the conversation but she would encourage me because she wanted me to learn Spanish and was patient enough to help me.

She lives close to a lot of her extended family members so I have been introduced to many aunts and cousins. They are all so friendly and sweet and have taken me in as part of the family. They even say I look like I could be related to them. My roommate has the sweetest daughter who is 9 years old and has really taken to me, she is very affectionate and is always holding my hand when we are walking outside. In the house she will sometimes come and sit next to me and lay her head on my shoulder as we watch TV.

As for the language barrier, let's just say if I don't know Spanish by the end of my stay here then I would say I am super slow because no one and I mean no one at all around me speaks English, I am talking full on immersion here folks. The Spanish classes I have taken in the past have helped but I still have some way to go before I can express myself clearly. My roommate and her family are patient and kind enough to speak very slowly to me and use signals to help me understand what they are saying. The daughter is actually a very great teacher because she will talk slowly then give me examples of what she means by motioning or acting out the meaning. Sometimes when I get confused  about what someone is telling me I will helplessly look at the daughter and she will jump right in and help. Folks, I am in good hands here and without further ado here are some pictures that I have managed to take.

My new family in cali Colombia.

First day in Cali we took a walk around the neighborhood and my roommate bought me this fruit that looks like a tomato but tastes like a somewhat bitter sweet potato. I know my description is full of contractions but that's the only way I can describe the fruit......I think it is a fruit. Anyway, you put salt and honey on it for taste. It's not my favorite but people seem to really like it since it's all over the neighborhood.

Can you guess what these are?

Milk! and here I was searching for it in the refrigerators. How long does milk last without being refrigerated anyway?

Salsa in the living room with my roommate's friend. I am in Cali after all, the salsa capital of the world. Whenever my roommate mentions that I love salsa, music will be put on and people want to see how I dance.

It's so hot in Cali that during the day a lot of people leave their doors open for fresh air. There is no AC so you can imagine how it feels like when the doors and windows are closed. Torture! See the open door behind me? I was feeling so hot and flustered but still managed to crack a smile when my roommate's daughter took this picture.

Just chilling and feeling relieved in front of our apartment's door step. We live on the second floor and down below us is another neighbor.

That's it folks, believe me there is a lot to write about so watch out for future posts.

Random Thoughts of The Day:

Living in Cali reminds me so much of growing up in my old neighborhood in Kenya. The lively neighborhoods with kids playing, teenagers hanging out on the streets talking to friends, music blaring from the local neighborhood bars and the familiarity that people have with one another. When walking with my roommate she says hi to so many people that I joke she is like the president.

It's funny but when I visited Cartagena and Panama City I noticed how people left their doors open so when passing my their houses you would see a normal family just living their lives and I would wonder why they kept their doors open. Now I am living in Cali and I see why keeping doors open is a necessity. We live on the second floor so at least we have our privacy but everywhere we have gone around the neighborhood, people have their doors open but hang something like a curtain for privacy. We were at my roommate's aunt's house and a football just bounced in the living room from one of the games kids outside were playing. The kid just excused himself and came to grab the ball.

Salsa music is everywhere that I don't get the same excitement that I used to get in Minnesota when I would happen to hear salsa being played at a club. Here, salsa is played: at people's houses, in cars parked on the streets, in grocery stores..........everywhere you can think of. I have become used to it pretty quick.

I love how people call each other mami or papi as a form of endearment. It just sounds so cute.

I will not lie to you, immersion is hard! yes it is the best way to learn a language but trust me, it is a struggle. Sometimes I just zone out during a conversation because my mind gets tired of trying to translate everything in English. I am glad though that everyone so far has been patient and has really tried to help me.

My roommate and her family are very open and social. If I could express myself clearly in Spanish it would be fun conversing with them because they seem pretty cool. I was watching TV with my roommate's daughter, the grandma and the grand aunt and a presenter was talking about strippers. The daughter asked what a stripper was and you should have seen the grandma and grand aunt trying to explain and using motions to make her understand what strippers do. It was hilarious!

I need to find a way to stop auto correct on my laptop but with my laziness sometimes I haven't got round to changing the necessary setting. When I re-read what I have written I have to correct a few words which is just extra work. If you notice a weird word that doesn't belong or make sense in a sentense blame my auto correct:) and the heat as well........seriously! I am in slow motion mode over here.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Judy! I don't know if my previous post actually posted. Everything looks pretty cool there! It sounds like you could use a good fan though. Your new family looks nice.