Buenos días desde Cartagena, Colombia!

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Waking up with a cup of Colombian coffee and some fresh fruit from the market.

I have arrived, I have settled, I have began my culture immersion, and I have already fallen in love with this country.

I am posting this while drinking a cup of Colombian coffee and let me tell you, it’s the perfect cup of coffee for this beautiful day! It’s smooth, with some fruity undertones, a medium roast (roasted to perfection). The sun is up, the people are out, and I am sitting near the balcony looking out onto the ocean – life is great, I am so lucky.

I arrived in Cartagena, Colombia on Tuesday, May 28th around 10pm and have been out and about ever since. I don’t know if I have mentioned this in previous posts, but this is my first experience outside of the USA. Although I have only been here for about two days it has been an amazing experience. The people here are so warm and welcoming – they have an excitement and energy that is so contagious.

When I first heard about this opportunity I was excited to take part of this journey since it will give me the chance to become totally immersed in another culture. I now have the ability to, rather than preach to be culturally aware and responsible, to more accurately understand what being culturally aware and responsible means.  I can live by what I preach – which is a beautiful thing.

One thing that I wish the most is that I would have listened to my little sister, Amanda. I am not fluent in Spanish but she is enrolled in a Spanish Immersion. Amanda sweetly offered her time in order to teach me basic language skills that would help me here. I was too stubborn to have a 12 year old teach me things, and for this I was wrong (Sorry Manders!).

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Taken from the balcony of the apartment I am living in. The “new” modern city located in Cartagena.

Luckily, I had four years of Spanish in high school so I can pick a few vocabulary words out of conversations. Yet, that is not enough and it is becoming increasingly apparent that in order to become culturally aware, one must be able to speak the language of the people. I am lucky that I have amazing mentors and friends from Cartagena who are willing to help and work with me.

Yesterday, we went out to eat at a restaurant called, “La Olla Caragenera” in Boca Grande, Cartagena. For lunch I got the recommendation to try a poached fish with shrimp sauce. Usually, I am extremely picky with food but again, I am trying to immerse myself in the culture – therefore I put my trust in the recommendation. I ate the fish – it was delicious! Yet, forewarning — if you come to Colombia be sure to remember that chefs do not debone their meat. I had the unfortunate situation where I bit into the fish and a bunch of bones were inside… I’m sure you can only imagine my mental freak out – but, I remained physically calm (which is all that matters, in my opinion). For dinner, we went to the same restaurant and I tried the creme de pollo (cream of chicken soup) — there were chicken bones in the soup. That’s when I concluded that it must be a cultural difference and I will just have to learn to deal with it.

Okay! I must get ready for the day – I am about to leave with Sandy to go explore and work some more.

Hasta la próxima! Adiós!

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Oh, the places we will go!

Come along with me on my destination:

May 27th 2013: Leaving Minneapolis with my Mom, younger brother, Zachary and younger sister, Amanda. We will drive to Milwaukee and spend the night at my Grammy’s house.

May 28th 2013: Mom, Amanda, and I will leave Milwaukee at 5am to go to Chicago. There, I will meet Sandy and together we will embark on our journey. We have a 6 hour and 16 minute layover in Panama City, Panama. Once our layover has ended our next destination will be Cartagena,  Colombia — my home for the next month.

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