“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Natalya is everywhere this summer 2007 and would love to see any and all who can see her!!

Dates:

Colombia - May 28-June 18
Miami - June 18
Madison (Chicago) - June 19-June 21 (6am departure-anyone for breakfast?)
South Hadley, Massachussets - June 21-Aug 4 will try to make it to Boston during this time somewhere! Come and visit me!!!!
Seattle - Aug 4 (Yay Sarah J!)
Aug 5 - back to Myanmar for last year. Come and visit a beautiful country with lovely people!

Facebook, MySpace, Bogota, and Spanish

Well, I am back in a foreign language again. This time I'm signing into Blogger in Spanish. Thankfully, no new format so I found my way reasonably easily. Yes, I am in Bogota, Colombia! Wow, it feels good to be in exciting Latin America! I made it!! It's overcast and quite cold--13 degrees or something like that. I didn't bring any warm clothes at all, so will go out and buy some later today! The same thing happened last year when I arrived into Vienna. Silly summers are not really summers yet!

I tried to join mySpace, but it's got such a silly format. I'd add things and then they'd disappear. Not to mention that it tried to make me join the Spanish language page! Ooops. I love facebook. It's easy, and there's just so much in there. Everyone, please join facebook!!! It rocks.

Hayley and Stu live in a very fancy appartment highrise by the mountains. Haven't seen much except the airport. That was tiny and very crowded. Have heard horror stories of people gassing you to control you and take your cash. Apparently I'm never to hail a taxi off the street either. Otherwise, there are large hypermarts, pizza huts, and blockbuster video so no worries there. The internet is fast and uncensored, and the electricity hasn't gone off yet, so its automatically a step up!

It was such an insanely long flight and I didn't get any work done on it, so am trying to struggle through it all now so that I can enjoy my holiday. Still have no idea where I'm going while I'm here! I flew from Yangon to Bangkok to Taipei to Seattle (lovely airport) to Chicago to Miami (not so nice airport!). I was amazed at how multicultural Miami was, however.

Landing in Bogota was exciting--even the plane ride showed evidence of the cultural change. All the air hostesses had Spanish as their first language and their mannerisms. Gone are the polite niceties of Asia, in come the bossomy, energetic, vibrant latinas, shouldering their way down the aisles with their rapid, rhythmic responses.

I have never been anywhere in the world that has made me so ashamed that I do not speak the language. In most places, tourists don't speak the language, but here, EVERYONE is Spanish speaking, and I don't blame them for expecting it. I am truly out of my element. I speak almost no Spanish at all. I remember going into a Spanish class when I'd first arrived in the Philippines in 7th grade and feeling extremely overwhelmed by the foreign sounds. I quickly transferred to French, which, with my ballet experience, at least felt moderately familiar. I would have loved to have learned Spanish, but to be honest, it isn't until more recently that I've fallen in love with the Spanish sounds. I had to learn to love the music and the salsa dance, and hear the accents and see Spain. Now I want more! I want to come and live here--perhaps Buenos Aires will be my next post? Or Peru or Chile or Costa Rica. What exciting thoughts! Wasn't my last dream to move to Europe? It will change again, no doubt. The job will be the decider!

At the Bogota airport, everyone was excited--I could immediately tell that people were returning home. So few places show that kind of vibrant returning energy. Most are passive and polite! The musical rhythmic language! Wow. I truly was the ignorant foreigner out of my world. Haven't felt like that in a while. It felt multicultural as well, with blacks, latinas, and people who could've looked just like me. Perhaps its just that I've come from Asia, but I honestly would not have been able to tell who was a native Colombian and who was not.

I love it here!

Monday, May 21, 2007

News

It's 1am on Sunday night and I have a big computer assignment due tomorrow, but I think I will send off a note to procrastinate. It certainly beats hunting the mosquitoes that keep emerging in my room (there is at least one every 5 minutes, and when I zap them, others keep coming. I just don't know where they are coming from!!)

Things have been absolutely crazy for the last few weeks, and this week will be similar. I still have 3 assignments to finish, but now I only have 4 days to do them. They will be shoddily done, but I don't really care at this stage. I leave for my holidays on Sunday. Yay holidays!! This is what I'm doing-- On Sunday I will fly for the longest time I think I have ever flown--I go from here to Bangkok to Taipei to Seattle to Chicago to Miami to Bogota, all with 3 or 4 hour layovers, and on three different tickets! I hope it goes smoothly. For my flightback in August I'm still waitlisted--have never bought a waitlisted ticket before!! I'll spend 3 lovely weeks with Hayley and Stuart tripping around Colombia, and then I'll return to the states on the 19th stopping off to see Christy and Jonah in Miami (I hope!). I wanted to stop in Central America somewhere but the tickets were insanely more expensive (despite most airlines going via there anyway!)

My exam is in the middle on June 12th, and I will do it at Hayley and Stuart's school with perhaps them as my proctors! I go from there to Chicago to try on bridesmaid dresses with Amanda and have shoes dyed to match. I start work in Massachussetts on Thursday the 21st, and it will be nice to do nothing but work! :) At the end of 6 weeks, on Aug 4, I flyto Seattle, go to a wedding, then at 4am fly back to Myanmar to jump right back into work here (meanwhile, studies start up again on July 24th---thankfully a smaller load than before).

My house is wonderful, but not without pains--I knew that would happen though. We had some water leaks, and a small installation error with the washing machine--I'm so handy with a screwdriver that I fixed it myself. Yay for me. We've had 3 plumber visits and still no luck, though things have been changed in the offending toilet and the pump is working slightly less often! To be honest, if the plumber is so useless as to rig the washing machine wrong, I have my doubts about the rest of his work elsewhere! (People here often have a habit of not fixing things properly to ensure continued jobs.) We had two power cuts on Sunday evening, but only for 20 mins each... so far so good on that account.The 3 huge padlocks to get into the house are a pain, especially when I'm busting to go to the loo or if it's raining. There are odd little quirks everywhere (like a shower that doesn't drain well, the only laundry hanging space being upstairs off one of the bedrooms, and taps that aren't allowed to be fully turned off or they leak!). There are millions of geckos and frogs, some stray cats, but thankfully no snakes and no rats yet! Ants are a huge problem (they got inside the sealed glass jar the sugar was in and had a huge party!) and migrate within minutes of leaving anything unattended! The mosquitoes are AWFUL, but hopefully that will ease when rainy season ends. I went and bought the most hideous orange mosquito net yesterday because the night before was so unbearable, but slept blissfully last night.

Rainy season is here early and with full force. It rains every day in buckets and we've had at least two major storms pass over--nothing like that happened this time last year.We had a party on Saturday (in case I didn't have enough else to do). There was drunken debauchery, but I was too busy dealing with an empty water tank in the middle of a huge storm!! It turns out that we have 3 pumps...nothing is ever simple here! We have one that pumps the water in from the road to a holding tank (that must breed a million mosquitoes in an hour, not to mention bacteria and slime). We have another tank to pump from the holding tank to the high tank. We have a third pressure pump to pump from the high tank to the house because the high tank isn't high enough! Thankfully the pressure pump is automatic, but its problem would be OVERuse! The others, however, are run by a lovely little man who our landlady employs, and he fills ourtanks daily (but of course, not at 11pm on a Saturday night, even if we could get in touch with said landlady to ask her!). He even cuts our grass :). So I went outside to figure all this out (had a vague idea but no clue as to which tap went where, whether it was on or not,whether the pump would explode or not, or even where the switch to turn it on was. Found it (after slipping and sliding in mud and slime) and started filling, but of course the rains were so heavy I had no way to tell when it was full and over flowing! On the other side ofthe house an overzealous guest was throwing up all over our frontsteps--thankfully not IN the house, but still, it was under the awning where the rain would not wash it away.

Installed our clothesline today, and things are running smoothly in most areas (except mosquitoes!). We have to take our own rubbish out,which is a real pain. This means that every night after 6pm we must wander down the road in the dark through the puddles carrying our rubbish to the communal rubbish dump near the market. A big snake moseyed over the road the othernight! We get there, and no doubt our every item is thoroughly perused by those in need of an extra penny from the recycling that we are unable to engineer. We have about 40 empty beer bottles from our party that we have no idea what to do with because we have no means of transporting them anywhere. Perhaps our lovely maid will have the desire to take them somewhere tomorrow... we've offered them to her anyway! Where else in the world would people be eager to take such junk off your hands!

I am marking my exams for school at the moment (or actually, procrastinating from marking them). Yuck! But yay to no more teaching for a while. Farewell dinners, lunches, graduation and other festivities! Boo to boring assignments that pull me away from fun times. Never enough time in the day! You probably won't hear from me in a while, but will try and drop a line from Bogota.