Friday, April 30, 2010

Ciudad Perdida- the Lost City

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I’m finally getting around to writing about Cuidad Perdida. It was awesome. I had read about it in my guidebook before coming to Colombia, and spring break seemed the perfect time to go! Ciudad Perdida literally means Lost City. The Tayrona people abandoned the city with the arrival of the Spaniards, and it remained a Lost City until it was discovered in the 1970’s. Pretty cool, huh? Not only that, apparently Tayrona gold inspired the legend of El Dorado!
Elizabeth, Dave and I booked our tour through Magic Tours. I have to admit, I could get used this way of hiking… a hammock to sleep in every night, 3 delicious meals prepared for you every day, fresh fruit along the trail…. Not too shabby! Our guides were incredibly sweet, and did everything possible to make sure that we all had a wonderful experience. Our guides also only spoke Spanish, so Elizabeth and I were the unofficial translators of the group. It was nice to be the ones with good Spanish for a change! There were 10 of us in our group- all English speakers, but from all over: England, Ireland, the US, Canada, and Australia. I can see how the people that end up in your group really make a big difference in the whole experience. Fortunately, we had a really great group!

Home sweet hammock

Okay, so you can't actually see any cards on the table, but that's only because we were inbetween games.
We played a lot.

We did the hike in 5 days. There was definitely more ups and downs than I was expecting. I was glad for the ridiculous hill I have to walk up to go anywhere in Barranquilla, and also for the fact that I didn’t have to carry a full pack. Elizabeth and I tended to go at a slower pace, at first just to enjoy it a little more and take lots of pictures, and later because Elizabeth developed gigantic blisters that took over her feet! Aside from all that, the thing that really got me was the humidity. I mean, I’ve been here for awhile now. I’m pretty used to it. I go for walks; I walk up hills. I even work out! But none of that prepared me for the amount of sweat I experienced. It was soooo disgusting. I love hiking. I don’t mind the dirt, and I’m fine with not showering, but this was something else. Early in the morning, I would look down at my arm and see beads of sweat coming out of every pore, and it was only the beginning! Everyone’s clothes were wet. We’d hang them up to dry overnight, but they never really dried out. A couple of the guys actually rang the sweat out of their shirts. Yuck! Thankfully our camps all either had showers or a nearby swimming hole.

A Kodak moment.

Thanks for carrying our food.

A Kogi village along the way. (Kogi are similar to the Tayrona people)

Day 4 was our scheduled arrival to Ciudad Perdida, and the only morning we woke up to rain. I guess it’s just one more thing to add to my list of places I’ve visited in the rain. The Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, the White House… Ciudad Perdida. Oh, well, at least the rain made it look more mysterious even if it did hinder the view. After several river crossings and 1260 stone stairs, we were there. The wooden houses that were once there are long gone, but you can still see the layout of the city. The houses were built in the center of circular stone terraces.

Stairs up to Ciudad Perdida.

Circular terraces.

Our guide told us about the Tayrona people, and the discovery of Ciudad Perdida. (It was discovered by grave robbers.) Very interesting to hear about the Tayrona culture, which is also lost. It was sad to learn that after hearing stories about the Spanish, the Tayronas fled up into the mountains, but did not survive due to the colder climate and a lack of food. Also, it was unnerving to learn that a tour group had been kidnapped from Ciudad Perdida in the 90's and that FARC had a presence in the area even more recently. Definately a reminder that although I feel safe here, and I am safe; it hasn't always been that way.

A toad: symbol of cleanliness and fertility.

Elizabeth and Olga exercising to keep warm. It was cold up there!

What's up with this army dude?

View. Well, sort of.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sopa de Arroz con Tomates

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Next soup to try: Tomato and Rice. This soup was really yummy. I'll definately make it back in the US, especially since it just has basic ingredients- nothing specifically Colombian. Mmm... tomato soup- it's such a comfort food!

La receta

1 cup of rice

5 cups of chicken broth

For the Tomato Sauce:

1 cup of broth

6 tomatoes, chopped

1 onion, chopped

1 branch of parsley

1 branch of oregano

1 bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon sugar

Salt and pepper to taste

Making the chicken broth and tomato sauce.

After cooking the tomatoes, etc it goes in the blender.
The rice is cooked in the chicken broth, and then the tomato sauce is added.

Buen Provecho!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Buen Provecho

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About a month ago I bought a Colombian soup cookbook. It's awesome. It has great pictures, and shows the different ingredients which is really helpful considering it is all in Spanish! Last week Elizabeth, Yoyi and I decided to try it out. Our first soup? Ajiaco. It was one of the first Colombian foods we tried, and it's really good! It's mostly potatoes- as in 3 different kinds of potatoes, 5 lbs altogether! Also, chicken and corn are important ingredients. Our amazing school cooks make it pretty regularly. It seemed appriate to make Ajiaco first.

La Receta:

3 libras de pechugas de pollo
16 tazas de agua
1 libra de papas criollas, peladas y cortadas en rodajas
2 libras de papas pastusas, peladas y cortadas en rodajas
1 1/2 libras de papas sabaneras, peladas y cortadas en rodajas
3 tallos de cebolla larga
1 rama de cilantro
4 dientes de ajo triturados
4 mazorcas tiernas partidas en trozos y cocidas
1 ramo de guascas
sal y pimienta al gusto
My new cookbook.

The ingredients.

Yoyi looking through the cookbook.

It was nice to have a Colombian around to help us out. Even though Elizabeth and I probably could have figured things out, one thing we both missed was the green onion. We bought regular onions and wondered how to measure 3 tallos. Three stems of green onion made much more sense!

One of the many potatoes.

Ready to go in.

45 minutes later we were ready to eat. Ajiaco is topped with capers and suero (Colombian sour cream) and served with rice and avacado.

Buen Provecho!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Language Lessons

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The ketchup dance

One Friday the PE teacher was gone at a school sporting event. Since there was no sub, the fifth graders basically had a really long recess. While the boys played futbol, a girl brought out her cd player. What happens when you give Colombian kids free time outside? Futbol and dancing, of course!
I was hanging out by the dancing girls when a salsa song came on. One of my nice students came up to me, “Miss, you know what salsa is? It’s like sauce. You know, like sauce of tomatoes. It’s the dance of ketchup!” I think he was almost as amused as I was!

V for cow

Tuesdays and Thursdays I tutor a second grade boy who lives in my apartment building. One day he was practicing his spelling words with me. He came to a word with a v in it. (I forgot what the word was, but let’s pretend it was everyone.)

Student: “E- V…. V like……. cow.”
Me (trying not to laugh too much): “Yes, V (drawing a V with my finger) V like violin.”

In Spanish b and v sound very similar. It’s a really common spelling mistake to mix up those two letters, so one way to clarify is to say v like vaca. Vaca = cow. Good thing I knew that otherwise I would have been really confused! I love that he translated it to English.