So I’ve been embracing the relaxed nature of Caribbean life a bit too enthusiastically and have been failing at updating this blog! So this will be a massive post and then I’ll try to stick to posting ever six weeks.
It’s week 7 and we are already over halfway through training! Last month was Carnival which was exhausting and fun and loud, very loud. While I didn’t go to the huge celebration in Barranquilla, there were enough parades and fiestas to keep me busy in the pueblo. Every day left me covered in maizena (corn flour) and foam, as is tradition here. Colombians would party until 4 am every night and I could not hang. I was too tired to do anything by like day 2 of Carnival.
Once the craziness of Carnival was over, the school year was ready to start. I’ve been busy with spanish classes, technical trainings, and co-teaching English at a local school – all great preparation to be a volunteer on my own. I was assigned to an 8th grade class at a large school in my town. My class has 46 students which was overwhelming at first but the kids are sweet and funny for the most part. I’ve been teaching 20-30 minute activities each class.
My homestay has been great. It was hard at first because they were much more overprotective than I was used to. My homestay mom in Buenos Aires would make me feel guilty if I wasn’t going clubbing on a Monday night and was always encouraging me to take advantage of the city. But gender roles are much stronger here, I’ve heard the Coast has some of the strongest machismo behavior in Latin America. We are all female trainees in my town and the first weekend night we wanted to hang out and grab a beer our host families had a collective heart attack. It is obvious that the women’s place is in the home in the pueblos. There are spaces for men like the pool hall, bars, while playing dominoes but none for women. I’ve definitely reached a happy medium with my host family and they don’t freak out every time I want to leave the house but it was definitely the first time I had experienced this environment.
Also since I’m such a foodie, I must talk about the food here! Much of it is fried and unhealthy and I miss vegetables but my host mom makes sure to give me avocado whenever possible so that’s great. I also get fresh guava, passionfruit, blackberry, etc, etc juices with every meal and THEY ARE AMAZING. Beans are not as common as I would like which is unfortunate but my family does have them once a week or so. And no, contrary to our views of hispanic food, Colombian food is NEVER spicy. Which is also unfortunate but I came prepared with tapatio and cholula so it’s all good.
I’ve been able to take a few day trips with some other volunteers: to the beach, a hike with monkeys, a tranquil lagoon. Here are some pictures!