Sunday, 12 August 2012

Neiva, I Love You!

So far, so good!

Thursday, August 9th, 2012 marked two weeks since I had been in  sunny Neiva. The old addage, "So far, so good!" is the most appropriate to describe the experience thus far. I am being productive, punctual, meeting new people, Spanishfying, and adapting to the new culture. There are some aspects of said culture that have been a bit difficult to become accustomed to, but this blog isn´t about that. I want to share with you, those things that I absolutely love, and particularly enjoy about Neiva. You know, those things that make me feel all warm inside; warmth that has nothing to do with the heat, or warning me about impending diarrhoea. For some reason, that diarrhoea bit sounded funnier in my head!

Cholupa, according to my gracious, Opita host, is a cousin of passion fruit; a sweet, sexy, tasty one at that. The fruit is grown solely in the Department of Huila- Neiva is its capital- and functions as its National Fruit in my opinion. Smaller than its passionate cousin, cholupa is green with a tough exterior; a yellow interior, black seeds encased in a jelly-like membrane, and proves that big things can indeed come in small packages. The first time I tasted cholupa, I admit that I was a bit hesitant. I usually am when it comes to trying new foods as I´m a very picky eater/ drinker, and my face betrays just how much I don´t like something. I took the plunge, and was rewarded with the most refreshing, fruitiest, sweetest juice I have ever tasted in 22 years, 10 months, 43 weeks and 2 days- I may be studying languages, but my Math is good! My entire body orgasmed- from my taste buds to my toes- as Ms. Cholupa travelled downward, making me tingle. It felt better than sex yo! (Not that I would know anyway, Mummy!) Everyday since, I must have at least one cup of cholupa, I go out and search for it with fervour, like some strung out cholupa whore. It´s relatively easy to find, since there is a lil shop in the school´s mosquito infested, "no light at night" cafeteria that serves the drink for ah mil- real cheap! Below is a photo of cholupa; ain´t she a beauty?

In Form One, I remembered reading about the Siesta, that is, a short, mid-afternoon nap taken in the early afternoon, usually after lunch, in some countries. I always associated siestas with Spain, and was therefore, not that shocked when I noticed that no one took them in Bogotá. I just assumed that Bogotá set the precedent for how everything was done in Colombia, and I came to the conclusion that siestas were non-existent here. Ha! Imagine my surprise when on my first day, other teachers in the staff room packed up their stuff, and left at minutes to twelve. As I´m heading to the house, I noticed that the lil tienda on the corner was closed, and the streets were too eerie for midday. I arrived at the house to find my host in home clothes, re-heating the food he cooked that morning. After we had lunch, he retired to his bedroom, only to get up two hours later, re-dress, and head back to work. Eventually, I learned that during the week, between 12 noon and 2 PM, the majority of Neivans take a siesta. I was elated because it meant that I could sleep for two hours in the mid-afternoon, and not be considered lazy because culture dictates that it is normal. Sadly, taking a nap is not as easy as it sounds! You need to take off your clothes, sleep, get up, bathe, brush your teeth, and basically, get ready all over again. Plus, for some reason, it´s even hotter in Neiva during siesta! Once, I accept everything that the siesta has to offer, I suppose that I will grow to love this restful part of the culture.

Quite frankly, I expected Music in Neiva to be VERY traditional. You know, old, soaring ballads about sea foam and ashes! While I can appreciate the historical and cultural importance of songs like those, they can become repetitive and dull, and make you contemplate suicide. Luckily, I was very wrong about what kind of music is played on the radios, in clubs/ bars, and in people´s homes. The music features an eclectic mix of Vallenato, techno, ballads, American contemporary and rock, and reggaeton. This was particularly shocking as a lot of Colombians are aversed to this genre of music with it´s raunchy, dirty lyrics and beats that make you want to grind on someone, and/ or wine on yuh head on ah marble table. Vallenato, which I never really liked the first time around, is now growing on me. The lyrics are beautiful, and speak about a range of issues that tend to happen to people who are in love, or have fallen out of love. And well, ballads are AMAZING in any language! Do not despair young ones, I have posted links to some songs from each genre that have caught my attention!

Después De Ti- Felipe Peláez and Manuel Julian (Vallenato)
Traga´o De Ti- Peter Manjarrés (Vallenato)
Lo Mejor Que Hay En Mi Vida- Andrés Cepeda (Balada)
¡Corre!- Joy & Jesse (Balada)
Hasta El Techo- ChocQuibTown (Genre Unclear)
Te Pintaron Pajaritos- Yandel and Yostin ft. Andy Rivera (Reggaeton)
Llegamos A La Disco- Daddy Yankee and a lot of other Artistes (Reggaeton)  
Inténtalo- 3BallMTY ft. El Bebeto and América Sierra (Genre Unclear)

I hope to learn more about Neiva in the coming months, and grow to love this part of Colombia even more. Until the next post folks!