Friday, January 6, 2017

Colombia eh? Si señor

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Sooooo what’s new? It’s 2017; that’s exciting. I’m in Medellin, Colombia until Sunday then I’m off to Cartagena, Colombia where I have a job interview on the 11th for a job at an international school. I have a few other interviews set up for a teaching position that will start in September. So Bert, why Colombia? Well, my goal is to live on every continent so South America was next on my radar. After picking my continent, I needed to zero in on a country. Everyone I talk to raves about Colombia. Decision made. There is a job fair at the end of the month in Kingston which I will be attending if I don’t secure a position with a school whilst in Colombia. I thought visiting a few of the schools before agreeing to spend the next two years here would be a prudent choice. I also want to learn Spanish and adore the heat. I’d like to explore all of South America and am roughly planning on spending the next two plus years in South America. Great. How is it so far?

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I love rating places as either over or underrated. Take a moment to guess what my initial assessment of Medellin after spending almost a week here and going on two day tours of the city, taking the cable cars and wandering around aimlessly, I must report that I’m slightly disappointed and must rate Medellin overrated. Is it New Zealand bad? Of course not. It’s easy and cheap-ish to get around the city. Ubers abound everywhere. The temperature is quite nice and there is mango everywhere. I also got a cheap pedicure, apparently cheap shaves are available and there is a strong police presence that is reassuring. It’s also my own fault for not learning Spanish before moving here so I can’t blame the country for being Spanish speaking but I thought English would have a stronger presence here. No senor!

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The city is quite large and isn’t conducive to just wandering around and figuring it out. Poverty is rampant, a lot of stares on the metro, not the best cuisine and overrated partying makes me wonder what all the hype is about. It’s a solid city with some things to do but after almost a week here, I’m ready to bounce and check out more of Colombia. I think a smaller city with more beach\jungle and less white people would be more up my alley. There are a few peculiar things about Colombia that I’ve noticed that you might take a mild interest in.
-Their fire hydrants are green. Am I the only one who finds this fact fascinating?
-At stop lights, instead of homeless people just asking for money, they will juggle, breakdance or some other busking activity that I quite enjoy.
-Many women in their mid-20’s seem to have a kid or two without male support.
-Colombians are quite short and I am by far the tallest on the metro. Wearing a Canada t-shirt is also not helping me blend in to my surroundings.
-Apparently you can drink in cars and on the streets here. Apparently.
-Same time zone which I find surprisingly comforting.
-No adapter needed for plugging electronics in.
-You can rent bikes for only an hour at a time so on our bike tour of the city, we needed to keep replenishing our accounts which I found silly. I asked my guide why we couldn’t rent them for a day. His response: “Our culture is different than yours. Ours is……………..more damaging.”
-They love wearing jeans and semi/very provocative clothes.
-I ate wings one night in this fancy district where all the rich people hangout and they give you gloves to eat your wings with. Gloves to eat wings. This seems practical but I couldn’t take part of this social norm.
-They burn these on New Year’s:

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That’s all well and good Bert but tell us about all the mistakes you’ve made in the past week. I’d love to!!
-I’ve lost three phone chargers in less than a week; two before even leaving my brother’s place.
-I gave my sunglasses to my mom so I wouldn’t forget them. Don’t give someone who is equally as forgetful as you to hold onto something for you. My fault.
-I didn’t book my flight to Cartagena early enough so it’s about twice the price it should be. Still only $108 but should have only been $50.
-Made no friends and didn’t talk to anyone on a four hour walking trip. I might also have been one of the very few drinking beer on the tour which did not endear me to the group. I’m on vacation.
-I went to buy new chargers for my phone and left my phone at the store. The lady was trustworthy but I definitely need to learn to take a minute, understand my surroundings then make a plan. There really is no rush.
-I tried finding the museum of modern art but somehow couldn’t figure out the giant signs pointing me in the right direction. I got a pedicure instead. Not convinced this was a mistake.

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I’m going to finish my week strong in Medellin but if I don’t make it back to Medellin again, I will be okay with that. I wish you a super duper 2017 destroying all the goals and dreams you’ve set for yourselves. 

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"If the party sucks, make it better or leave."

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