Monday, December 21, 2009

♪ ....Everywhere you go♪

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More Christmas in Colombia pictures!

How the Grinch Stole Novenas

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The last week of school we started out each day by going to a novena. I guess this is a catholic thing, or at least it is here in Colombia. They are short services with prayer, songs, and scripture to prepare for the coming of the Christ child. There is one each of the nine days leading up to Christmas. (Nine days… novena… ah-ha) The school has a mass, or misa, about once a month or so. It never ceases to amaze me how well behaved the students are at mass. It is such a drastic difference to how they normally are.

Each day of the novenas a different group of students performed songs and acted out a part of the Christmas story. Since the school is bilingual, we sang Christmas songs both in English and Spanish. I loved getting to learn some new Christmas songs. Feliz Navidad was sung several times during the week, and why not? It is in English and Spanish!

But one day, instead of having a novena, the Grinch came. The senior class has chosen Dr. Seuss as their theme for the year. So, they all have these white pants/suspender outfits that they periodically wear. At the very beginning of the year they performed a Cat and the Hat vs. the Grinch dance-off. I was both amazed and confused by that whole thing. Anyways, one morning, the seniors put on a reader’s theater of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. True to form it had an elaborate backdrop, set and costumes. You could say the Grinch stole the whole novena.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Exploring the Mangroves

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Christmas Vacation is here! And it is time for me to catch up on some blogging. So, here is the third and final installment of pictures from the weekend trip to the San Barnardo Islands. We spent the night in the nearby town of Covenas, and spent the next day hanging out on the beach. After wondering up the beach a ways, we saw a place that offered canoe rides up an inlet to see mangroves and garzas. I had read about mangrove forests, but had definately never seen them. They are trees that grow along tropical coastlines and help prevent erosion.

Right outside our hotel in Coveñas.

La playa

Elizabeth paddling us into the unknown. (Actually we had a guide who did most of the paddling)

Mangrove roots extending down towards the water. Because they grew in saltwater, the roots are adapted to breathe air.

Reflection of the roots.

Entering the tunnels of mangroves! We saw lots of crabs and shellfish in the roots. I couldn't get a good picture of them though.


Eating a mango con sal on the beach.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Aquarium

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One of our stops on the tour of the San Bernardo Islands was an aquarium on Isla Palma. Here are a few of the strange and wonderful things that Elizabeth and I saw at the aquarium.

Lots of fish in very clear water.




More pirate artifacts. There was a whole room full of stuff!

Flamingoes! I had never seen one before! It was like looking at cartoons- they couldn't possibly be real.

Apparently, they're not particularly nice...

Monkey? Wasn't this supposed to be an aquarium?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

I'm on a Boat!

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Last weekend Elizabeth and I went on an excursion to the San Bernardo Islands. Mission: get out of Barranquilla for a couple days and find turquoise water.

There seemed to be pretty limited information about the nearby towns in our guidebooks, but with the suggestion of our coworker we took a bus to Sincelejo. This was very helpful to us because my guidebook doesn’t say anything about Sincelejo (although it is on a map), and Elizabeth’s guidebook mentions it, but doesn’t show it on the map. So, after school on Friday we went to the bus station, and caught a bus to Sincelejo. Four hours later we arrived, just a little too late to catch a bus to the next town of Tolu. Although it was little disconcerting being in a town we knew nothing about, we found a nice taxi driver who took us to a hotel and told us where to catch the bus in the morning. From the very little that we saw of Sincelejo, it seemed pretty nice. There was a beautiful church next to a plaza with lots of Christmas lights. It was surprising that there was nothing about it in our guidebooks, although there probably isn’t much there to offer tourists. In the morning we took a 45 minute bus ride to Tolu and then were offered a short bicycle-taxi ride to purchase our tickets to go to the islands. All in all, things went very smoothly!
Soon we were on our way.

Turquoise Water!!!

The Islas San Bernardo are really an archipelago. The day tour included the boat ride near several islands and stops at two of the bigger islands. The first island we stopped at was Isla Palma were we went to an aquarium that was actually combination zoo, aquarium and pirate museum.

Here is the the island Islote. It's small and completely covered with houses, with just a couple palm trees still hanging in there. The lonely planet calls it a tropical shantytown. They may be right!

We had 3 hours to eat lunch, snorkel and enjoy the beach on Isla Mucura. It was amazing! I had really only been snorkeling once in Mazatlan, and it wasn't very good snorkeling. Here, I got to see coral, and lots of pretty, brightly colored fish. At the end of our time snorkeling, everyone grabbed onto a rope on the back of the boat and our guide pulled us slowly back to the beach. We saw lots of starfish as we "swam" back to shore. Amazing.

Life is good.

Mission accomplished.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

It's Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas

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It’s the second week of December, Christmas lights are up, the school has Christmas decorations, the grocery store plays Christmas music. Yup, it’s beginning to look like Christmas. Except, it’s 90 degrees! I realized today that I haven’t been listening to Christmas music, or watching Christmas movies. I guess it just doesn’t really seem like the holidays when I still use air conditioning.

Yesterday was a holiday, Dia de las Velitas, which had something to do with lighting candles to guide the Virgin Mary on her journey to Bethlehem. Anyways, Dave and I walked around and looked at some lights. So, here are some light pictures as well as some other pictures. Christmas and palm trees tend to make me want to sing Mele kaliki maka. :)

Lots of lights!

Santa, resting in the shade of a palm tree.

Christmas at the beach

Monday, November 30, 2009

Pumpkin? Pie?

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Ah, Thanksgiving- turkey, pumpkin pie, family, buttery-pan rolls…. I wasn’t really sure how I would be spending Thanksgiving this year. We had talked about making some kind of dinner, or at least pumpkin pie, but we had also talked about taking advantage of the 3-day weekend to travel somewhere. (Colombians don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, but since we are supposed to be a bilingual school we celebrate some of the American holidays as well. We actually had school on Thanksgiving, but then had the next day off in honor of Thanksgiving.) Anyways, we decided to go for the full meal deal.

First of all we needed to find the ingredients. The grocery stores don’t carry turkey, cranberries, Crisco, pumpkin, or sweet potatoes. So, we had to do some improvising. Personally, my first priority was the pumpkin pie. How can you have Thanksgiving without it? Pie-making is serious business in my family.

Here’s the “pumpkin” that we found. I don’t know what it actually is, but it looked kind of like a pumpkin.

When we got back home and cut it open it did actually look and smell like a pumpkin!

I must confess that even with all my pie-snobbery, I've always made pumpkin pie from a can. After some advice from Sally and Alex via skype, (and a few hours) the pumpkin was ready to go.

But what about the crust? No Crisco... and no pie plate! hmmm....
After consulting with Dave's mom on video chat, I decided to go with more of a bar approach. And so here is the final product. Is it pumpkin? Maybe. Is it pie? Not really.

Somehow it still tasted like thanksgiving.

Of course the pie wasn’t the only thing. We made a chicken, mashed potatoes, salad and a “sweet potato” puree. Also, Dave has an oven and I don’t. My kitchen table is bigger. Our solution was to cook at Dave’s, pack up the meal, and take a cab over to my apartment. So we loaded our backpacks with food, and piled everything into a cab. The cab driver didn’t think anything was out of the ordinary, but I thought it was pretty funny.

When all was said and done, there were seven of us at the dinner: Dave, Elizabeth, and I as well as a couple of our Colombian co-workers. I am definitely thankful for my new Colombian and North American friends.