Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Puente Trip: Neiva and San Agustín, The Series- Part 3: The Children of Salto de Bordones

Sometimes in life you experience something that changes your outlook on life.... well, it happened to me!

As mentioned before in the previous blog post, during my first day in san Agustìn, I had the opportunity to do a jeep tour to different sites. One of my stops on the tour was El Salto de Bordones, a majestic waterfall that falls some 400 meters surrounded by high mountains and thick vegetation. Whilst in the midst of nature´s magnificence, I couldn´t help but notice the little girl that was telling us the story about the waterfall in the hopes of earning some pesos. She was probably no more than eleven years old, brown skinned, dressed in pink from head to toe and dirty as though she had been playing in the dusty streets all day. She was surrounded by other children, most of them younger than her, looking up to her like a mother figure and all of them bearing the obvious signs of poverty. Later on we would learn that they were displaced children that came to the Salto in the hopes of earning some pesos from tourists that visited the area. Immediately, I felt a sense of immense pity and sadness for them but at the same time I had to marvel at their innocence. There they were; running, jumping, rolling around, hiding, smiling and talking, just being children unbeknownst to the gravity of their situation. They took us down some steps so that we could get a closer look at the waterfall and it was there standing on a rock thingy, looking at these children interacting with my friends that I started to think.

I don´t mean to sound insensitive but I am truly blessed to have a good family and although I´m by no means a rich person, to have had all my basic needs provided for throughout my life. These children have limited or no resources to access their basic needs but yet, they are happy in their own way. They truly taught me to be grateful for all that I have been given- a family, friends, this opportunity- and not to whine and complain when Mummy cooks something I don´t like or when my jeans don´t fit me properly or when things don´t go way. Things that are SO trivial compared to what these children face on a daily basis. Furthermore, I realised that I have to find some way of giving back. If it means mentoring a child, volunteering at some organization, sponsoring a child or just doing something worthwhile without the prospect of monetary gain, I HAVE TO do something. Any suggestions?

Basically, I want all my readers to be grateful for what they have been given in this life. Sure, we always find something that isn´t perfect in our lives and we want changed. But many of us take for granted what we have and instead, continually focus on those things we lack. Why be unhappy and have high blood pressure? I´m not saying don´t strive for excellence and work for what you want but do that without the constant bitching and moaning. I am definitely going to try this and I implore you to do the same. If ever you feel the need to bitch, moan, whine and complain about the inadequacies in your life, think about the Children of Salto de Bordones.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Puente Trip: Neiva and San Agustín, The Series- Part 2: SAN AGUSTÍN

On to the next town people...... San Agustín also located to the south of Colombia boasts picturesque mountain landscapes where history and eco- tourism are alive.

The day was Saturday 13th November, 2010, the place was the Bus Terminal in Neiva, the time was 2:30AM and I was sleeping on myself like a drunken old man. What happened was that we wanted to take the 2AM bus from Neiva to San Agustín because we wanted to have an entire day of adventure in SA. Being the smart people we are, we decided to do an all nighter, go straight to the Terminal and sleep on the bus. The 2AM bus didn´t come on time and thus, I was sleeping on myself in the people Bus Terminal. Finally, about minutes to four the bus showed up and by this time I was extremely tired, annoyed and grumpy. There´s nothing to say about the bus ride except that I slept for five hours under a thin coverled on an airconditioned bus.

I was awaken by a woman´s voice asking for the coverleds and announcing that we were in San Agustín. With sleep still evident on my face and "yampy" in my eye I had my first view of SA- lush, green mountains against a clear blue sky- simply marvellous! Suddenly, this guy comes out of nowhere and starts talking to us. I immediately entered a state of "pissivity" because I had just got up and it was too early to be talked to in Spanish by this really annoying fellow who had us standing there for like five minutes. Looking back at that incident, I could understand why he was so... ahm, enthusiastic about us renting his horses. Tourism is the main source of income for people in this town, he was just doing his part to ensure that his family had food on the table. So Enrique* (not his actual name), Garvin´s World salutes you and your work ethic!

With Enrique behind us, we made our way to El Jardín/ The Garden, a quaint hostel where you pay 12,000 pesos a night to rest your head. On entering the hostel, I noticed that the courtyard was filled with an array of plants and colourful flowers as well as some noisy birds- I think they were parrots- in a cage. The owner of the hostel was a short woman who seemed to be well mannered and pleasant. She carried us to our room which had six beds and a private bathroom. It was really cozy albeit a little small with scratchy sheets, a door that wouldn´t lock properly and the little "towel" they gave to all occupants. As we were settling in, Olga- our friendly, neighbourhood tourist actitivy planner person- graced us with her presence. A squat lady with short hair and toes that hung over her shoes with a face that screamed, "I LOVE MONEY!" Olga´s main purpose was to tell us about the fun activities we could do and to organize said activities for us. The activity for Day One would be a Jeep Tour and the activity for Day Two would be a Horseback Tour.

The Jeep Tour cost us 30,000 pesos each and Olga busied herself with the preparations. As we were waiting for the jeep to arrive, we had the pleasure of meeting Ray, a retired Norwegian viking. Ray actually knew where Trinidad and Tobago was, having been there himself and he would be going on the tour with us, so why not be amicable? Ray was a really cool, entertaining guy and I liked the fact that he had travelled to different Latin American countries, something that I would like to do one day. Ray spoke only a few words of Spanish and it was hysterical the way he tried to communicate with the natives. However, Ray´s views were very Euro- centric in that he believed that everything was better in Europe and he had no problem voicing his opinions. One would think that if everything was better in Europe he would travel within Europe. Anywho, enough about Ray, I should talk about the Jeep Tour and what I saw before this blog post goes on FOREVER!

The first stop on the Jeep Tour was the Río Magdalena, the biggest river in Colombia that runs through a lot of cities. We visited what you would call a stretch of the Magdalena where one could take photos, climb on the rocks and just take in nature´s beauty. I really wanted to take a swim but my friends pointed out that that would be almost impossible given the fact that the river probably has some really strong currents. Ah well, it was just wishful thinking. The second stop was an Archaeological Park where we had the opportunity to see some tombs from the times of the indigenous peoples that occupied the region. In the museum itself, there were different relics from the indigenous times as well but what really stood out to me was a mural that was painted on the wall of the museum. The mural depicted the lives of the indigenous, before and after the arrival of the Spanish. Basically, at the beginning of the mural one could see that the indigenous lived a life in harmony with nature, worshipping their statues and being happy. As the mural progressed it depicted the lives of the indigenous and of course, the eventual arrival of the Spanish. The artist used fire, blood, tears, skeletons, animals and men, all intermingled to show the destruction that the Spanish brought upon the indigenous peoples. I spent a long time looking at this image because it was so vivid and as a History student, I appreciated this piece of art for what it showed. The third stop on the tour was to another museum where we had to hike to the top of a hill- mountain. Hiking to the top was a pain but the view at the top was worth every drop of sweat. Words can´t truly describe how amazing that view was but a few come to mind like majestic, breath- taking and inspiring. We froliced under the San Agustín sun, taking photos, jumping around, enjoying life and looking at tombs and statues *insert moment of nostalgia* The last two stops were to two waterfalls, they were just as beautiful as everything else in San Agustín.

The tour ended at 6PM and we returned to the hostel. I felt so inspired and refreshed from my tour. There´s something about culture that enriches your life, makes you reflect on everything that you´ve been through and gives you impetus to go on and conquer the world. My next blog post speaks about one such "life changing" experience. Until next time!!!

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Puente Trip: Neiva and San Agustín, The Series- Part 1: NEIVA

To the south of Colombia lies a little town called Neiva where the climate is very similar to the Caribbean, the people are warm, welcoming and wear short pants to school and ride motorcycles. *insert moment of nostalgia* Living in this town is a fellow Trinidadian English language assistant named Lisa* (not her actual name)
who was nice enough to invite us to her home away from home- props to you :D

The day was Thursday 11th, November 2010, the time was 5:30pm and the place was aboard the Coomotor bus on its trip to Neiva. I knew this bus ride would be an interesing one from the get go since five minutes into the trip the bus driver crashed into this guy knocking him off his motorcycle (Oh, the horror!) All "man jack"- Trinidadian and Colombian alike- got out of their seats and poked their head out of the windows to see exactly what happened to the poor guy (apparently macoing is universal). The icing on the cake was when the bus driver looked out the window and asked his co- pilot, "¿Lo cogí?" or "Did I hit him?" Well, I buss out one laugh, fully aware that this was not a laughing matter but then again I have my schizophrenic moments. I wanted to yell at the driver and tell him, "Of course you hit the guy! Did you think the guy just likes lying on the ground, holding his head with his motorcycle on its side?" Shock does make you ask some stupid questions yes but then again some people do that even without being in shock. Eventually, the whole commotion was taken care off and after thirty minutes in bumper to bumper traffic we were finally on the open road to Neiva.

One hour into the trip this aroma starts to creep through the bus. Apparently, Mr. Toilet decided that he wanted to grace us with his pungent smell and make our noses explode. Hours Two and Three were spent catching up on my "handsome" sleep, I mean all this- meaning the fineness that is Garvin- takes time and rest. By Hour Four I was hungry, restless with a numb butt and wanting very much to reach my desination. Hour Five was spent in wonder as the bus had stopped on this DARK, EERIE stretch of road quite similar to Wallerfield in East Trinidad to pick up some construction workers with their dusty slipper- clad feet. I mean, REALLY? Then I´m further shocked as the driver stopped again, this time to pick up a woman with a bread basket and a tub of gaseosas (soft drinks). Naturally, Ms. Lady started to walk down the aisles selling her products. I was perplexed because, 1) she looked really sweaty as though she had been sitting under a tree for ages, 2) her fingernails looked as though she had been digging in the various orifices of her body for the whole day, 3) her clothes were tight thereby accentuating all the rolls in her body and 4) her hair was loose and kinda dirty. I´m not scornful eh but when you have to buy something to eat from somebody you have to be careful. By Hour Six I had had enough of this bus ride and was over the moon when the bus slowed down and the co- pilot said, "¡Neiva!"

My first few moments of enjoying my first view of Neiva were cut short as an old man who had been on the bus with us went running behind the bus screaming, "¡Aye, Aye, Aye!" *insert giggle* Apparently, poor Gustavo* (not his actual name) had got off the bus to pee and took too long so he missed the bus. It was a sight to behold, poor Gramps running as fast as his old legs would carry him, yelling for the bus and the people in the Terminal laughing at him. I swear I only laughed as I was writing this blog post (starts to hear the lyrics of that song, "Teacher Percy say if you tell a lie, yuh goin´ to hell as soon as yuh die!"). What an ending to an interesting bus ride.

After two hours of sleep, I got up the next day for a little "tour" of Neiva as my friends and I accompanied our friend Lisa* to her University. The first thing I noticed was that the climate in Neiva was very similar to that of Trinidad except for the lack of breeze and unnatural humidity. My only problem was that after three months of cold, cold weather in Bogotá my body had started to acclimatise after three months meaning that the heat in Neiva was sooooooo unbearable at the beginning. I was sweating, hyper- ventilating and I was just out of my element, so much so that I was fishing for words when the students asked me questions. *Just take a moment to understand the GRAVITY of this situation. I, Garvin Tafari Parsons was at a lost for words.* It struck me how different Neiva was to Bogotá. The people are so much friendlier and so much more welcoming than the majority of people here in Bogotá. The "busetas" (little buses) cost 1000 pesos (cheap over here). More surprisingly was the fact that if every seat in the bus is occupied the people- Neivans, I suppose- don´t enter. Believe me after three months of being in a city where every bus is usually FILLED TO CAPACITY, this was a welcome surprise. Overall, it was just amazing being in another part of Colombia for the first time.

This post more or less focused on the bus ride to Neiva but the truth is that the majority of my trip was spent in San Agustín. The adventures from my two days in San Agustín would include three blogs. YIPPEE!!! God bless everyone :D

Puente Trip: Neiva and San Agustín Series


This weekend I had the luxury of having four long days (Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday) to myself. So like any foreigner in another country, I packed my suitcase and left Bogotá to have fun with my fellow Trinis (love all yuh) and to seek adventure in another part of Colombia. Naturally, I have to share with you, my fellow readers the adventures I had during these four days. The problem is that sooooooo many things happened during my trip and it´s almost impossible to include them all in one blog post without boring you to DEATH- although my life is anything but boring- I should be considerate to your needs.

As usual, I had a BRILLIANT idea and decided to create a series of blogs to describe everything that happened. The series will be called, "Puente Trip: Neiva and San Agustín, The Series" and it will include about five blogs over the course of two weeks.

Hopefully, you guys would read the blogs in the series and share in my experiences. I´m EXCITED, are you?

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

I LOVE my Job!!

I have the GREATEST job in the world! I mean it from the bottom of my heart. No, I`m serious- I absolutely LOVE my job!

What´s not to love about a repetitious job? I mean I get to do the same thing from Monday to Friday, five hours everyday. You must be CRAZY if you`ll get bored and frustrated by all this in three months. I get to see the same people everyday and I get asked the same questions- "How are you?", "What did you do this weekend?", "Did you get enough rest?" and the million dollar question, "How are you coping with the weather?" Who needs excitement at their job? Who needs to feel the desire to get off their beds at 6AM in the morning to go to said job? Who needs to feel a sense of purpose at their job? Surely I don`t and that´s why I LOVE my job.

OMG, I absolutely enjoy teaching/ tutoring unenthusiastic students, the majority of which can be found at this University. They`re just so adorable with their Longman Dictionaries suitable for Secondary School level Spanish and their failure to understand that at the University level a higher level of work is required. They are a teacher`s DREAM! Going to classes is even more FUN, who wouldn`t want to stand in front a class explaining their heart out about a completely boring topic whilst trying to make the class interesting and have some students completely ignore you, others whispering about you and the rest looking at you with, "I am lost" evident in their facial expressions? I envy people that don´t have a job like this and in the words of Harry Potter after he was possessed by Lord Voldemort in the last few chapters of The Order of the Phoenix, "I feel sorry for you!"

The opportunity to work alongside some of the most deceitful people in Bogotá has always been a dream of mine. From their fake smiles to their mock concern for your well- being to their backstabbing ways- I LOVE it all. I mean if a woman can use a simple, fun Karaoke party as a means of having a student banned from entering "her" office again, she most definitely must be my hero, I can learn so much from her. I LOVE it here.

Oh and if you missed it, SARCASM was most definitely intended! Although it´s obvious that I "LOVE" my job, I must say that being in Bogotá is a great opportunity to broaden my horizons and improve my Spanish. I thank God everyday for this opportunity and Shubh Divali to all :D

Tricky Tricky Halloween

Woohoo, my trip to Bogotá is like a gift that keeps on giving me new experiences and last week was no different as I attended my first Halloween party.

Before I even thought about attending a Halloween party I had to come up with a costume. The problem was that Halloween fell on a month end and this Afro- Trinidadian had NO money to spend on a costume that I was only gonna wear once. As such, I had to resort to my creativeness that comes with being a Language student and make my own costume. I started to think about different costume ideas that I can put together with the clothes I had in my suitcases and a needle and thread. After a week of "ponderations" -yes, I know this is NOT a word- I had three finalists- a baby costume (cloth diaper with safety pins, a vest, a bib and a hat), Harry Potter (a black version)or a nerd (tight pants, white socks, mismatched shirt and tie, suspenders and glasses). Eventually, I decided on the nerd costume since I had most aspects of the costume and I kinda look like a nerd already. The only thing missing from my costume were the suspenders so I grabbed an old sweater from my suitcase, a pair of scissors and I got to work.

About two hours later with my suspenders sewn onto my pants and my nerd costume complete (look to the top of the blog page for a visual), it was time to party. The party was GREAT, there was a Vallenato band, lots of Salsa music and of course, my favourite Reggaeton. I partied the night away with my fellow Caribbean langauge assistants who were dressed as an angel, a witch and a cowgirl. Oh yes, good times!

Another aspect of Halloween that I got to experience for the first time was the actual Trick or Treating. Sadly, Apt. 202 didn´t have one sweetie to offer the lil children from around the apartment complex. However, our lack of sweeties didn´t stop them from ringing our doorbell AND knocking the door several times apparently, they really wanted those sweets. Our dear, old land lady Maritza suggested that we turn off the living room lights so as to fool the kiddies into thinking that there was nobody at home. How mean! Luckily, they had some luck with our neighbours, whom I have never seen since I´ve been here, because I could hear them singing, "Tricky, Tricky Halloween. Quiero dulces para mi." OMG, if this isn´t the epitome of cuteness I don´t know what is!

Well, well, well I must say that my first Halloween was quite interesting. What shall I experience next in Colombia? You´ll have to keep visiting my blog to find out.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010


Apparently, I had to travel to Colombia to have my first nightclub experience. 

During my second weekend in Bogota, the other assistants and I went to Club Zombie to provide moral support to one of our friends that had a gig at said nightclub. BIG UP SIMBA AMANI! All I can say- well, write- is, that night was a disaster!

When we arrived at the club, I immediately noticed the characters that were assembled outside. They looked as though they were channelling Eminem from that movie "8 Mile" with their baggy jeans, baggy T- shirts and their "one size fits all" caps (surprisingly, these "one size fits all" caps can never fit on my head, I wonder why?) I thought they were all thieves so I clutched my wallet ever so tightly. In retrospect, this should have been the first indication of how the night would turn out. Anywho, I paid the cover charge- $8000 pesos, which is like $24 TT- and entered the club.

The first thing I thought when I entered the club was, "Gosh, the music is horrid!" It sounded like Eminem meets Coolio meets DMX meets Daddy Yankee. In short, it was NOT dance worthy for us Caribbean people. But you should have seen the "8 Milers", they were jumping, screaming, fist pumping, bopping their heads, and trying to be well, black and failing in EPIC fashion. As mentioned before, our friend had a gig so apparently he wasn´t the only artiste that was going to perform that night. There were these Colombian "rap" groups that started to appear on stage. Words can´t describe what they soounded like, it´s possible that a banshee´s screech would sound ten times better than them. They kept on yelling, "RAH, RAH, RAH!" and the worst part is the crowd was actaully cheering them on. Like, are we listening to the same music? If it weren't for Simba´s "upcoming performance", I probably would have left (I probably should have left when this thought entered my mind given what happened next).

So there I am, sitting amongst my Caribbean peeps eagerly awaiting Simba's performance and I notice that there are police officers in the club, moving through the crowd and asking questions. Well, yours truly was instantly bummy. I mean, I had nothing to be afraid of since I didn´t have any nose candy on me, but then again, is BABYLON! Well, you know how we Caribbean people FAST and PARANOID; everybody breaking dey neck to see what´s going to happen next and others were panicking. Mr. Babylon comes downstairs with a youngian in his custody- if you see the little girl- blonde hair, really slim with her mother´s milk still evident on her face. Obviously, she was a minor in an adult club, drinking alcohol, and going wild for Colombian "rap" with her friends. Well, who tell she do that?- they throw she ass in the police van and within minutes another police van and some motorcycles arrived at the club. 

AA, well if you see thing, the officers called up the manageress in all her glory, dressed like a lady in a yellow pum-pum shorts and a bikini top. Now, I have no idea what they were saying but after the conversation the patrons heard an announcement from the DJ, "Club Zombie is closed for the night and the police want that everyone leave!" Well every Tom, Dick and Harry left the club and assembled outside whilst Ms. Yellow Pum-Pum Shorts got thrown into the van next the girl. It seemed as though the police were going to lock up the club´s employees as well because I noticed the bouncer walking, well running in the opposite direction- go figure!!! So, my first club experience ended in disaster- I didn´t get to dance, I didn´t get to see Simba perform and I was standing outside in the cold, reading the "Closed Until Further Notice" sign and feeling unbelievably unsatisfied with my experience.

The funny thing is that the following week I found myself in Zombie AGAIN!! Apparently, the manageress felt bad about Simba not performing and decided to give him another gig. This time the club seemed to have undergone a face lift, everything was different. The bouncer was new, the price was reduced, the crowd was different and the music was PHENOMENAL- I mean they played a Shurwayne Winchester!!! Simba was great as well, I mean what else do you expect from a Trinidadian? As for myself, I danced the night away, well until about 2ish when all Colombian clubs close!!

I know I haven´t been blogging a lot but I´ve been unbelievably busy working and adjusting to life here. But come next week, there´ll be another post so, hold on tight and come again!!!

Monday, 9 August 2010

Lessons Learned During Week One in Bogotá


As you guys know- if you didn't know, then you're obviously living under a rock- I've been in Bogotá, Colombia for little more than a week now. Gosh, I've been having a good time! The culture here is so different, and naturally, I've had to adapt and in adapting, things are learned. This post traces important things that have happened to me during my first week and what I've learned, thus far.

Lesson Número 1: Bogotá is COLD. I mean, ever since I decided to apply for this program, everyone that has been to Bogotá told me that it was cold. I was even asked in the interview, how I would deal with the cold. Thus, I had a general idea of what the temperature would be like in Bogotá. But, hearing and experiencing something are two mutually exclusive things. The understanding of how cold it was really hit me when I exited the airport in Bogotá, and a cold breeze blew, making my whole body shake. Sadly, this wasn't my last 'cold, culture shock'. I arrived at the apartment where I would be staying to see five 'coverleds' of varying thickness on my bed- a fitted sheet, a normal sheet, two knitted blankets and a quilt. To those five, I added a sheet and a blanket of my own. One can only imagine how cold it was for me that night, I felt like knives were piercing my skin, chilling me to the bone with my balls retreating between my legs in search of heat.. "AY DIOS!" To top it all of, that night I needed to use the toilet for number two purposes and I sat my bare butt on the toilet seat only to feel the cold seat on my legs. My poor balls! Haha! Luckily, after a week, I think I'm getting accustomed.

Lesson Número 2: Most people in Bogotá have a wicked sense of style. They wear every look here- preppy, emo, glam rock, punk rock, bohemian, the 'motorcycle leather' look, the 'normal' look, the 'I'm on drugs' look, I mean, EVERY look. Plus, they actually look great rocking these different styles. And OMG, Colombian jeans are the bombdiggity. I mean, they stitch the jeans in such a way that it accentuates the best parts of your body. Gosh, I need to buy myself some Colombian jeans, so when I come back to Trinidad, all eyes will be on me.

Lesson Número 3: The lady I live with is a disingenuous, deceitful little _________ (fill in the blanks). So, the first few days here she was the epitome of nice- she made breakfast for us the first day, offered to take us dancing, and talked with us in a jovial manner. It's about here that I should have noted her sing song voice; Mummy always says that sing song voiced, overly sweet people are the most deceitful- case in point Professor Umbridge from HP. Anywho, about the third day inside, Madam sat us down and gave us one set of 'house' rules to live by. For example, she doesn't want us to invite other Colombians to the house because she doesn't trust them meaning she thinks that they're thieves- talk about a double standard. I mean, she man comes by the apartment every weekend for sex- guess who locks their suitcase everyday before they leave the house? I mean, she is a Colombian! She also told us that we can't have girlfriends because Colombian women are dangerous and we have to clean the apartment every eight days. The thing that put the icing on the cake for me happened last Saturday. 

During the meeting where she laid down the law, we asked about the groceries and we understood that we can use the groceries in the apartment and replace them as they run out. I can't cook much, so every morning is fried egg with something. Saturday morning we were doing the usual fried egg, all happy and crap. Then, Maritza came in:

"Muchachos, do you like the cinema?"- she asked.
"Sure!"- we answered.
"Well, Tuesdays and Thursdays are the most economical days to go to the cinema."- she informs us and then, "Are those MY eggs you're using? Have you been using MY eggs?"
"Yes!"- I answered, a baffled look on my face.
"Well, I prefer that you don't use my eggs because Jose (she man) bought me those eggs- apparently they special- and he was wondering who was eating them."- she said.

All yuh, I buss out one laugh! I was so shocked, confused, and in awe that this big woman standing here telling me, don't touch she egg. EGGS all yuh, EGGS that are easy to buy. The thing is we were going to re- buy her eggs that evening given the rules about supplementing the groceries, but she has no patience and the egg have a place in her heart. Well papa, now self I not eating no egg during my stay in Bogota. Mad people living at that apartment complex in Calle 25 oui! 

Lesson Número 4: The transportation system in Bogotá is so much more advanced than Trinidad. They have huge highways with crossovers at different intervals, not like the ONE CROSSOVER Trinidad has by Pasea on the Highway. They have an amazing bus system called the Transmileno, which operates like a train system, with different stations along whatever routes the bus takes. The bus has it's own lane on the highway, meaning it's really fast and you can reach another part of Bogota in like one hour, which is a short time considering Bogotá is like three times to size of Trinidad. Oh gosh, ah love it!!! The only fault is that it's always PACKED with people, jamming up on you, pushing you to get out the bus, and what not. But, one good Trini cut eye and they know they better say, "Lo siento" if they mash yuh.

Lesson Número 5: Drivers in Bogotá are SO IMPATIENT. My first day in Colombia, I almost got bounce three times, almost fell down in a bus, and almost fell out of said bus when I had reached my destination. The drivers of the little 'busetas' (something like maxis) don't wait for you to sit down before they start to drive, they don't wait for you to come off the bus slowly, you literally have to jump out the bus and taxi drivers will run you over if you don't cross the streets quickly IE run across the road like a wild horse, screaming "Oh gosh, doh bounce meh!" I always have to be careful and extra vigilant because I don't want to call Sagicor and cash in on my life insurance policy. Ah have to return to Trinidad in one piece.

Lesson Número 6: Learning Spanish in a classroom and actually, speaking it on a daily basis with natives that are not your teachers is not easy. The first day I was here, oh my word, I felt like I now started to study Spanish in Form One. I was horrid, I said nothing until the next day when I felt comfortable and more capable of doing this. The prayers did help as well. It's easier now, but I still have a ways to go before I'm at the level that I want to reach.

The final lesson I learned is that I miss my family and they miss me. I really love them and I'm going to make them proud beyond their wildest dreams. Until the next adventure my dear readers, love you guys. 

Garvin signing out from Colombia.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

COLOMBIA... my preparations, my expectations and my fearations: Part 2


Before I begin with this post I would like to apologize to my readers for not having the post up on Friday as I promised. My computer decided to not work. But it works now, so here's Part 2 of COLOMBIA... my preparations, my expectations and my fearations.

Acquiring a passport and a job seemed to be two gallons of water in an ocean of preparations (really dumb metaphor, but you catch my drift). I made a list of everything I needed to do, and of the 30 items, I've done about 10; I bought my ticket, organized Health Insurance, found about seven sweaters that I had lying around, helped an old lady with a little housework, so I could get two suitcases (do for do), organized my International Immunization Card, did some 'pick pocket' proofing on my jeans, washed all the clothes I'm carrying with Comfort so they'll smell nice, planned some Conversation Club exercises and brushed up on my Spanish and English skills. WOW, listing all the things I've done has made me realize that I did a lot and for a lazy guy like me that's BIG, so YAY ME. But let's not get complacent, I have three suitcases to fill in four days.

Expectations are things we hope for and I'm hoping to get a lot from this trip. I want to improve my Spanish skills, I LOVE this language and this year will be good for me. I want to see, taste, touch, hear and smell Spanish everyday for a year, and just experience the culture and interact with the locals, expand my horizons I want to LIVE SPANISH! I expect to learn more about myself and prove the critics wrong, at the same time. 

As some of you may know, I live a VERY sheltered life; my mother wakes me up most mornings, I get three square meals prepared for me, my lunch is packed for me etc. etc. Now, I love my life, I love my parents, I love everything they do for me, and I intend to make them proud, but some people think that living a sheltered life or a life where you are heavily dependent on your parents for survival makes you an invalid and incapable of surviving or fending for yourself in the 'big, cruel world'. They say things like, "You know when you go to Colombia your mother won't be there to wake you up!" and "Your mother can't wash your clothes for you in Colombia!" Quite frankly, God created alarm clocks for getting up in the morning, I've been washing my own clothes for years, I can read a cookbook and LEARN to cook, I can bathe myself, pack my lunch and SURVIVE. So, I'm going to Colombia, taking responsibility by the horns and I'm gonna survive with a smile on my face in the 'big, cruel world'. Worry 'bout you, don't worry 'bout me!!!

I'm a worry wart and I fuss over simple things, things that I call my fearations. It may seem trivial to some but I have a fear of not being accepted for who I am. I suppose it stems from being called every 'gay' related nickname throughout Primary and Secondary School, or having one of those 'it's either you like me or you don't' personalities. Although I'm worried but I'll have to be me- crazy, smart Garvin with the high voice- and who doesn't like it will be ignored.

Another fear is being inadequate. Sometimes, I lie in bed at night and my brain goes into overdrive creating these scenarios and I ask myself- "What if I suck at being a language assistant? What if I get flustered every time someone speaks to me in Spanish? What if I disappoint my family and make a mess of things in Colombia? What if...?" Gosh, I get so worked up over these things, worrying when all I need to do is trust in God and know that he never gives you more than you can handle. In his great plan for me, going to Colombia was part of it. He blessed me with a talent for languages and I have to be confident in my abilities. When I'm over there and I get this fearation of inadequacy I have to remind myself of that!

I'm deathly afraid of flying which is bad considering I'll be on a five hour flight come Saturday. I'm really paranoid, and as mentioned before, my brain creates frivolous, imaginative, gory scenarios. My paranoia is most likely to intensify while I'm thousands of feet in the air, I'll start to think about Final Destination, Snakes on a Plane, Air Force One, Con Air and September 11. Crap, crap, crap, crap, crap, CRAP! And breathe! I wonder if I can ride a bicycle to Colombia? (we need to get some people on that).

This post was really personal, I don't share this much with any and anyone. But you're my readers, and this is my blog about me- the good, the bad, and the indifferent. In four days, I'll embark on an amazing journey with my expectations and fearations in tow hoping for the best and trusting in God. I'll try to do one more post before I leave. However, this is most likely the last post I do before I leave. So, who knows the next time I do this blog, I'll be in Colombia, speaking Spanish and surviving. 

Thanks for reading and please come again!

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

COLOMBIA... my preparations, my expectations and my fearations: Part 1

Before I begin, I just want to let everyone know that "fearations" is not an actual word. 

As you guys know I'm going to Colombia for a year- to find out what I'm going to do there, read my profile- starting July 31st, 2010. Basically, I just wanted to share with you how I found out I was going to Colombia and what has been going through my mind ever since.

The day I found out was a normal day in Sangre Grande; the sun was shining, cars were parked on my street, school children were passing and I had just eaten a breakfast comprised of bread, peanut butter and juice. YUMMY YUM YUM!!! I was about to organize my day planner- honestly, I don't have a day planner it just sounds nice- when my $79, Coral 100, which randomly cuts off, rang.

*Monophonic ring tone #9*
"Hello?"- I answered.
"Hi Garvin? This is Andre!"- said Andre (obviously, if he introduces himself as Andre, Andre was the one that said it)- "I think you should check your email."
"OMG Andre, did they finally send the emails telling us who're going to Colombia?"- I said, the excitement evident in my high pitched voice.
"Yeah, they did!"- said Andre.

I excitedly, nervously and happily ran to my computer and proceeded to connect to my Yahoo! account. Now, this was around the time my computer was moving reeeaaaaalllllyyyyy ssslllloooooowwwwwwww, I mean like snail SLOW! There I am cold sweating, knees shaking, face losing colour (I'm brown so you could well imagine how my face looked) about to pass out and Mr. Computer decides he would take a light year (according to Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory, a light year refers to distance and not time) to load. After ten long, arduous minutes of loading; there it was, the email that would chart my course for the next year. YES, YES, YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS....... I WAS GOING TO COLOMBIA! I told everyone that would listen- my parents, my siblings, my aunts, my uncles, my class mates, my FB friends, the cafeteria people from CLL... EVERYBODY. I mean, I was excited and a sense of euphoria had taken over. Sadly, this euphoria lasted about one week as the enormity of this opportunity overtook me. I think it all started with the meeting we- oh crap I haven't mentioned that I'm going to Colombia with two other students alas, everything has to be about me- had with the 'organizers' where we were told of our responsibilities and the probable cost of this trip. After that meeting I was like, "Oh shit! This is really big!" I had to tell myself that this was an amazing opportunity, one I shouldn't pass up, and that I should suck it up and be a MAN. *hits chest and grunts* OUCH!!!

So the preparations began; a ticket needed to be bought, clothes needed to be bought, insurance needed to be bought, and so many other things needed to be bought. However, it was essential that I got TWO things first: 1) my passport and 2) a job. Haha, I'm such a klutz for forgetting to check my passport before I applied for the exchange program. Luckily, Mummy decided that she would randomly check the passport and she discovered that it was expired. YAY MUMMY! I needed to muster up all my cunning, intelligence and charm if I was to woo the HOG that sat in front the passport office in Sangre Grande. I didn't muster enough, that THING implied that I was disorganized, stupid and plain, ole ridiculous for not checking my passport. I mean, sure I was, but I don't need you to tell me that, you're just a MEANIE who thinks she can talk to people how she wants. Plan A failed, but Plan B was a success. 

I went to one of the many women I know who is authoritative with plenty LLB's ( I think this refers to law, not languages) and PhD's attached to her name- Dr. Nicole Roberts, my fave Hispanic Literature teacher (swear I'm not lying, I'm NOT). Anywho, the good Doctora wrote a letter and within two weeks I had a passport appointment for June 2nd. By July 3rd, the Passport was acquired and a few days later I got a job with CXC batching scripts (details of this job are way too long) in El Dorado. It was GREAT, I met these two nice, older gyals named Damaris and Yolande, and it's safe to say that they were totally enamored with me as I was with them. Yolande would bring these crystallized pineapples for lunch that were absolutely delicious and Damaris would tell these hilarious anecdotes that would have you rolling with laughter. Gosh, I miss them! I also met Debbie, the coolest supervisor ever who would give me drops to Arima everyday, and Janeen, a friend from UWI, who made being there a comfort. Even the lady from CXC liked me. Of course, where there is like, there's great dislike, but it comes with the territory. There was this group of people, women in particular that were threatened by the efficiency with which we worked and were worried about losing their jobs to University students. HA! I could have cared less because after two weeks I got paid and made friends that would last a lifetime.

This is a good enough length for one post, don't want you guys thinking I have a lot to write and all my posts will be long. So, this post continues in two days time. Thanks for coming and please come again!

Sunday, 18 July 2010

A Post just for YOU, my Coral 100

I have a cell phone, a cell phone that cost $79, can't vibrate and randomly cuts off when I'm talking to people. One might think that I would want nothing more than to throw this phone far, far away, but on the contrary I want to celebrate this phone by showing my love for her via this blog post. Be warned: after reading this post you might question my sanity. This one's for you, my Coral 100.

I've had my Coral 100 for four years now and those were magical years for me. I just passed CXC, just entered Form Six and just started puberty- yes, I started puberty at sixteen and sometimes I think it's still happening. My Coral was there for my first cracked voice, my first hairs in the nether regions, and my first ahm, 'dream'. *insert uncomfortable giggle* Aside from being there for me during puberty, it was there for me during those two hideous years when my life was plagued by CAPE examinations. I called my parents from little Coral to let them know I got a '5' in CAPE Spanish Unit One, which was the worst news a Spanish enthusiast like myself could have gotten. But look at me now, I'm going to Colombia- screw you CAPE! Coral was there for so many firsts in my life; my first day at UWI, the first time I saw her, first time I entered a status on FB etc. Call me sentimental, but my Coral 100 ROCKS!

Another reason to love my Coral 100 is the fact that it's so UNDESIRABLE to the masses. As mentioned earlier my phone has NO features, I mean NONE! No polyphonic ring tones, no vibrate alert, no picture messaging, no Internet access, no NOTHING. Thus, in a world of Blackberries and IPhones nobody, but me actually wants a Coral 100. Case in point, I've lost my little Coral FIVE times- once by some UWI phone booth, twice in taxis, once in the Mall, and once in Gate Boys (BBQ from GB not tasting all that good these days, they keep burning the damn chicken)- and on EVERY occasion Coral was returned to me safe and sound. Sure, some may say that I'm extremely lucky or Trinidad still has good Samaritans, but I know better, NOBODY WANTS A CORAL 100. I'm sure you Blackberry owners can't say the same, if all yuh lost that Berry somebody will take it, squeeze the juice and it will never be seen again! Thus, I love my Coral 100 even more because it's so undesirable that it saves me the troubles associated with losing a cell phone.

My phone is so ancient that there is a strong possibility that some rich guy will come to Trinidad, offer to buy my phone for BILLIONS of dollars and put it on some exhibit in the museum! I wanna be a billionaire so f****** bad (love this song) and my Coral might just do the trick!

I hope I haven't scared off my readers with talks about my Coral, the fact of the matter is that I love her dearly so why not talk about it? My next blog will be the first part of a post entitled, "Colombia... my preparations, my expectations and my fearations!" so you guys can get an insight into my trip to Colombia, and what I've been doing to ready myself for it. For some reason, Blogger doesn't allow you to post comments under my blog so all feedback can be directed to my FB wall and email account. Please come again.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

PET PEEVES are all around us >:-(

Gosh, I hate the fact that pet peeves exist but the truth is they do; they're the little things in everyday life that truly annoy the crap out of us. I'm a pretty complicated individual and as such, I have about one million pet peeves. However, for the sake of not having a lengthy blog post, I'll just highlight five that come to mind.

1) DIRTY FINGERNAILS- Everyday I devote about fifteen minutes to my fingernails, these minutes involve cutting, filing and cleaning under said nails. During the day, I wash my hands and make sure I clean under my fingernails. I'm not saying that you should be like me, but come on, must your fingernails be that dirty? Whenever I notice someone with dirty nails, I'm immediately annoyed and I start to think, "What were they doing to have their fingernails so dirty?": "Were they fixing a car? Were they in some mud fight? Were they digging the many orifices of their bodies, namely their nose, their ears or their butts?" The fact that I waste my time thinking about why their fingernails are dirty further aggravates this negro, I can be thinking about better stuff dammit! Oh and when wearing slippers clean you toenails! Get all that dirt out because people's eyes will naturally go towards your toes! Let them see something nice!

2) CURSING FOR EVERY LIVING THING- Sure everyone curses in their life at some time or the other. Personally, I verbalize when I'm unbelievably angry and frustrated- believe me yuh have to come real good to hear me cuss! But there are some people out there that curse for the hell of it- "Oh look I can use the F- word." I once had this conversation with a guy and I swear every sentence he used had some form of verbalizing. I mean, really? Are you that limited in your thought processes that you can't think about another adjective, noun, verb or pronoun that you can substitute for a cuss word? What's even worse is that I usually end up verbalizing because by the end of the conversation I'm so frustrated.

3) ALCOHOLICS- I know people that drink alcohol and they're my friends, what I have a problem with is people who abuse alcohol and expect the people they're liming with to take care of you. Imagine you go out for a night on the town with some friends, and one friend decides he/ she wants to contest the prize for 'Best Drinker in Town'. They drink and drink and drink some more; then, they can't stand up, they talk a pack of nonsense, and they vomit all over the place. DID I COME OUT OF MY HOUSE TO TAKE CARE OF YOUR DRUNK ASS? NO, I MOST CERTAINLY DID NOT! Come on man, why must you be a burden on someone else? I want to enjoy myself too, but I can't if I have to help you home and help clean vomit and listen to your crap. I usually end up doing these things because I'm the 'nice one'.UGH!

4) USING THE TOILET WHILE I'M BATHING- For me, bath time is my time to relax and think. Thus, I find it infuriating, disgusting and highly disruptive to my bath time when someone decides to take a dump while I'm bathing. Can you imagine being in an enclosed area with little ventilation and having to smell flatulence mingled with Protex Oats?(my preferred brand of soap) GOSH MAN! HOLD IT IN NAH! Five minutes is all I'm asking for!

You know what, just doing this blog has brought up all these experiences of extreme annoyance and now, I'm ANNOYED. So settle for four pet peeves, I'm going to do some breathing exercises before I buss a vein in my head. Direct all feedback to my Facebook account or Please come again!

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

A blog?.... Me?..... Why not?

OH MY GOD, I STARTED A BLOG AND YOU'RE ACTUALLY READING IT! *screams uncontrollably in excitement* And breathe, was that too much? Hee hee, what can I say, I'm excited and this is my general reaction to excitement. Lucky for you, you didn't really hear me scream. My name is Garvin Tafari Parsons and I would like to officially welcome you to my blog, Garvin's World.

So... why start a blog? In all honesty, I have no idea really. I wanted to try something new, I mean ever since I discovered the worldwide web, I've been trying EVERYTHING. Twitter was too boooooooooring, MySpace was too musicky (oh look, I coined a term) for my liking, and Hi5 was just lame. Then, I found out about Facebook and life as I knew it changed. Suddenly everything was about Facebook; I updated my status several times a day, tagged friends in photos, commented on every little post and tried every application it offered- yes, I was one of those mindless, Farmville people. But after a year of Facebook, it got boring and I found myself wanting to try something new in the web universe. And then it hit me, why not do a blog? Two days and about a thousand cases of writer's block later, here I am.

As my good friend Shivaughn pointed out a blog is a great place to vent and I like no, I LOVE, to vent. I mean, I'm not one to bottle up my emotions, and crap pisses me off so much that I'm always venting about something or someone. The problem is that my parents, especially my mother, think that I quarrel too much and allow petty, insignificant things to anger me. But I can't see shit- excuse my French- happening and not say anything about it. As such, a blog would be the perfect setting to vent my spleen and not have my parents worrying about whether or not I'm gonna raise my blood pressure or worst yet, burst a vein in my head, as Grandma kindly puts it.

I think that my personality really fits the "type of person who would have a blog" mold perfectly. I'm opinionated, intelligent, expressive, funny, sarcastic, creative, and strangely unique. In Secondary School, I was one of the best essay writers in my class- I was great with words and descriptions, so much so that I got a Special English A prize during my graduation in 2006. Now that I'm actually writing this blog, I'm realizing that writing is probably one of my God given talents that I've been neglecting for so long. Why not re- discover my oppressed talent via a blog?

Now that I've summarized the reasons why I decided to write a blog, I should probably tell you what it's going to be about. As the name, Garvin's World suggests it's going to be about ME- my views, my feelings, my life! Additionally, on July 31st, 2010 I'll be leaving for Colombia where I'm going to spend one year teaching English and improving my competence in the Spanish language. Given that this is an AMAZING opportunity and I'm bound to have an eventful, exciting trip, this blog will give all my friends a chance to experience Colombia through my big, brown, bespectacled eyes.

So, I'm new at this and I would really appreciate feedback and suggestions from you, my readers. Any feedback can be directed to my Facebook Wall or my email account-

Garvin's World has a lot more to offer so please come again. Gosh, I'm excited! Are you?