A guitar. A voice.

Perfect.

Tonight was perfect.

A box of wine. A guitar. A voice.

Perfect.

I have only two full days left in Colombia and tonight is the first night that I have felt complete.

I am complete.

I am fulfilled.

I am happy.

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“You’ll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut.”

Before our Welcome Dinner, the first night where the ice was cracked and friendships began to form.

El mar está rugiendo, buenos días.

When I first started this blog I thought it would be an easy commitment to keep. In my daily life I write so much anyway – what makes another writing commitment hard to keep? Especially when it usually takes me about 45 minutes to write about my experiences and another 15-20 minutes to edit. Well – obviously it’s pretty hard. Yet, instead of admitting I am lazy, I am going to go ahead and blame everything on my group ;). I lucked out with the group living at the condo with me. I’m sure everyone is in agreement about how amazing it is to have the people surrounding you get along enjoying the same or similar things. That being said, the group is becoming very close. Therefore, when evening falls we are all getting ready to go out together or getting in pajamas in order to hang out with one another on the balcony.

So yes, finding 45 minutes to write and another 20 minutes to edit is actually a lot more difficult than it seemed. That’s my story, that’s my excuse, and I’m sticking with it.

Anyhow, onwards to my update: It’s Sunday morning which means it’s my coffee, Jason Mraz, and PostSecret day.

As much as I stress to everyone that I am trying to become immersed into my cultural experience there are somethings that I cannot give up. These things include coffee, Jason Mraz, and PostSecret Sundays. My poor roommate, Dana, is getting ready and cannot escape my blaring Mraz, my dance moves, or the smell of my black coffee. She’s a trouper, I appreciate it.

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View of Cartagena from La Popa Monastery, Cartagena. The most breathtaking view I have yet to see.

Instead of bragging about how great Colombia and Colombians are (as I always do) I will talk about what Cartagena has offered me thus far. Since I have been here I have become very aware of what areas I have the most passion in. Colombia has served me in the past 13 days as a great place to discover in a greater depth who I am. In the states often I find myself worried about the future, where am I going to be in 5 years, 10 years, 20? Here, I have come to the realization that life is not guaranteed – that 5 year plan I have? Yeah, that’s not a guaranteed time frame.

When I come back home to Minnesota, I hope my new found mentality follows me. I hope I can find time to perform again, I hope I can find time to lose myself in writing, but above all else I hope I can put these hopes into action. When I go back to the states I hope that my lovely Colombian friends that I have gained will keep in contact with me (and vis versa). I also hope the individuals living inside the condo will all keep in contact as well. Oh, I also hope one day Juan Valdez will come to Minnesota. I love their coffee. Amazing. A girl can dream, right?

Colombia has offered me deeper thoughts, a broader view of the world,  great friendships, and finally – I am gaining a tan (which for those who know me, know how impossible that is).  19 more days until I have to leave this beautiful city.

Previous Posting: Mission Possible

Mission Possible

Buenas tardes mis queridos amigos, 

What a beautiful day in Cartagena! The sun is setting as I write this with a nice glass of Rosé . Yes, note to self: the sun begins to set at 5:30pm and Cartagena is completely dark by 6:45pm. Really though, besides the early darkness, Colombia has just blown me away with it’s beauty and energy.

Pina Colada from Crepes Y Waffles. One of my favorite restaurants in Boca Grande, Cartagena.

Pina Colada from Crepes Y Waffles. One of my favorite restaurants in Boca Grande, Cartagena.

In my previous posting I briefly touched on the energy citizens of Cartagena, Colombia have. Although it may seem like it, I am not being dramatic when I say that the citizens from Cartagena expel a high amount of lovable energy. The energy they carry follows me even when I am in my condo on the 34th floor away from everyone. I still feel it. I can’t stop myself from feeling it. The word “love” for these people is not too strong of a word and I readily use it whenever I describe my feelings for them. Colombian’s have the the most contagious attitude in the world – I know when I come back to Minnesota I will miss this friendly, warm energy the most. Please, take it from me – the media does not do them justice! Never have I met a larger group of accepting individuals who take me as I am and love me for everything I am worth (whether or not I can speak Spanish well).

The last two days, Sandy and I have been getting lunch at a fantastic restaurant called “Crepes & Waffles”. Although it sounds American or European it actually was opened in Bogotá, Colombia in 1980 by two university students. I love it not only for it’s delicious food and drinks but also for it’s mission. The mission Crepes & Waffles has is to help single mothers and “bread winning” women. The owners stay true to their mission, which I find extremely respectable for a  larger company in Colombia. When the consumers walk into the restaurant the only employees that are visible are women. There are women who seat you, women who serve you, and women who ensure your stay at Crepes & Waffles was enjoyable. Another bonus to this restaurant is that there is an English menu if one asks for it. Thankfully Sandy and I can both read Spanish better than we can speak it, so we didn’t need the assistance of an English menu. But, it is there for anyone who needs it – which is wonderful.  As I have mentioned before, in order to become culturally aware, you must learn the language of the people. Anyhow, my favorite plate that I have ordered is a crab meat with curry sauce. Oh my goodness! It’s too delicious! The Pina Colada isn’t too bad either (;

Crepes & Waffles has made me think a lot about my neighbors in all 50 states of America. Crepes Y Waffles has made accommodations to their menu in order to give foreigners the chance to understand. Yes, in America we often provide bi-lingual menus but when I am eating at these restaurants I never leave without hearing a snide remark such as, “You’re in America, speak English!!”. Colombia, a developing country, offers an English menu,  why then, do the vast majority of my United States neighbors feel as though individuals who live, visit, or move to America should speak flawless American English? Maybe I see my neighbors point at times, putting forth effort and focus on learning the language of the people in America, but I cannot wrap my head around my neighbors narrow mindedness.

Crab meat with curry sauce from Crepes & Waffles. Boca Grande, Cartagena, Colombia.

Crab meat with curry sauce from Crepes & Waffles. Boca Grande, Cartagena, Colombia. 

Try to look at it my way: I am living in Cartagena, Colombia with very little Spanish in my vocabulary. I am in a foreign country, taking an internship that could be used by another Colombian university student, and I cannot speak fluently. Does this make me a bad person? Does this make me less worthy of a person? Should I get cast onto the streets being sneered at as I walk home?

I am hoping that you have answered no to all questions posed. Yet, most of you know me personally – therefore, you are biased. Even still, if you answered no to all questions and yet, you still believe that those who do not speak English fully shouldn’t be allowed in America, why do you believe I deserve the right to be here? I am an American who is virtually clueless, yet I am in Colombia with these beautiful people, I am in Colombia completing a dream micro-internship – what makes me different?

I am ending this posting on a negative tone (how un-colombian of me!) but it’s something I want my readers to think about. It’s something I myself cannot stop thinking about.

To add some optimism to this post: I am so blessed to be here. I am so blessed for the opportunity Sandy gave to me. I am so blessed. I am so blessed.

If you ever go to Colombia – support the cause, help single women with children or bread winners of the family. Go to Crepes & Waffles.

Good night, until next time.

Previous Posting: Aware

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!

Previous Posting: Oh The Places We Will Go

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.

Previous posting: Message From the Blogger