Monday, 9 August 2010

Lessons Learned During Week One in Bogotá

BRACE YOURSELVES PEOPLE, THIS IS GONNA BE A LONG ONE. 

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.