Uncharacteristically, I am hiding from Happy Hour, so it’s a happy coincidence that I have a lot to write about!
Colombians are freaking awesome. Really. They’re the friendliest, happiest, most helpful people ever. I caught a series of buses to get to the airport today, and at every station people walked up to me (it’s pretty easy to see I’m not from here) and made sure I was okay and I knew where I was going. When I got to the end of the line—awesomely named ‘El Dorado’—a man who had discovered I was going to the same airport showed me the way, taking me to the next bus, and dropping me off at the check-in counter. Once I got to the gate, I was then adopted by two further Colombians (these ones spoke English). The lady moved our seats so that I was sitting next to her on the plane and translated everything. When we landed in Santa Marta, they even gave me a lift to near my hostel, saving me the taxi fare. They were just outrageously nice! And that is what all Colombians are like.
My Spanish is progressing as disastrously as ever. I got a taxi earlier and the man kept trying to talk to me. He’d throw the occasional short sentence out in English (which I’d think was in Spanish, thanks to his accent, and therefore not understand), between long clause-filled sentences in Spanish. I got the point eventually, but it was laborious! I’m getting slightly better though. Slightly. I went to dinner just now and when they didn’t have an English menu, explained that I was vegetarian. They showed me the vegie options and I said that I didn’t know what the ingredients are. I even managed to explain that I don’t like everything. (Namely mushrooms, btw. Which seem to be the go-to ‘vegetarian option’ in most places. Eugh!) They actually understood me, it was crazy. I do need to stop saying “da, no, si” though, it’s a little misleading.
Santa Marta is gorgeous, and exactly what’s necessary. The town’s nestled between a curving beach and the Sierra Nevada mountains: absolutely stunning. The place is full of people, stalls, and colour. I even saw a lady carrying things in a basket on her head! Weirdly, men here clap if they think you’re hot. I mean, does one take credit for that kind of thing? In more interesting clapping-related news, I went to a fantastic busker show on the seafront. Two of the most brilliant buskers I’ve ever seen. Somehow I managed to injure myself during the act, taking off my elbow while balancing a ball on a pen. I took it far too seriously, evidently.
There are a lot of North Americans here. More than I’ve ever seen in one place at one time before: I feel strangely like I’m in a sit-com. Haha there’s probably only ten, but still! I’ve also seen American flags flying, which weirded me out for some reason, and even two “Dunkin’ Donuts” stores. So weird. This is my first time in either of the Americas, so the proximity of the US is very strange to me.
On an almost-final note, two guys in my hostel room introduced themselves before, and shook my hand. I’m sure I would have mentioned at some point that men in Russia don’t shake womens’ hands, and my hand always used to feel left out. But now, I find it slightly confronting when a man shakes hands with me. How effective is culture?
Finally, I somehow neglected to share this video some of my students made at summer camp in Finland. I’m the disembodied voice behind the camera. Enjoy!