A General Update

by theadventuresofbeka

It’s been a really long time since I’ve posted anything. This has been because I have been sick twice and really busy in between said illnesses.

I’m currently using a computer with a Spanish keyboard in the hostel I’m staying at so please excuse any misplaced accents or weird symbols. (Also, the auto-correct is driving me crazy because almost every word is underlined in red.)

Class-wise, there’s not much to tell for the month of November because a lot of the professors I work with were wrapping up for the semester which meant that I had less work.

In the beginning of November, I went to Bogotá to visit a Colombian friend whom I had previously met in the States. This friend was an unofficial student of mine in Orlando during my senior year of undergrad. We spent a lot of time practicing English and I learned a lot about Colombia through him. Last year we met up in Atlanta when he was there for a school trip and this year we met up in Bogotá when he came back to visit. Who knows where in the world we’ll meet next year ;). It was really great to catch up with him and meet his wonderful family. He chuckled over how Colombian my Spanish has become and his lovely family opened me with welcome arms.

We spent the afternoon at Panaca Sabana. This is a strange, old “theme park” about 45 minutes outside of Bogotá. It has a variety of attractions including a mechanical boat ride through two fairy tale stories, a reproduction of an ancient ship, a small zoo, a fake Taj Mahal, a giant globe and an interactive bug exhibit. I was really interested to go there because the bus between Tunja and Bogotá often passes by it and I had always wondered what exactly it was.

I spent the night with his family and then spent the next day at the Jardín Botánico in Bogotá which was impressive. They had an orchid exhibit that I really enjoyed, especially seeing as my grandparents own quite a few orchids and have taught me to appreciate them.

The second weekend in November, I went back to Bogotá to run my third race in Colombia – the UNICEF 10K. This race went much better than the one in Colombia and I was actually really happy with my time. I stayed with another Fulbright friend who lives in Bogotá. I hadn’t realized how much the altitude in Tunja affects my running until I went “down” to Bogotá (which is still pretty high) and felt 10x better while running. My only complaint about this race was that the shirts were definitely way too tight.

The third weekend in November, I made the long bus journey down to Girardot to celebrate an early Thanksgiving with fellow Fulbrighters from Tunja, Bogotá and Girardot (and some Colombian friends too). It was an interesting “Thanksgiving Day” because we had two burners, eight cooks and no oven nor microwave. We planned everything out and managed to have dinner on the table in two hours! We made stuffing, mashed potatoes, salad, homemade eggnog, and apple crisp. We also bought tamales because a turkey was out of the question when no oven was to be found.

The next day we went to Piscilago which is a waterpark in Girardot. The park included swimming pools, water slides and a zoo. Girardot is only two hours from the Southern Bus Terminal in Bogotá, so many Bogotanos spend their weekends there due to its proximity  and the fantastic weather. I was so thrilled to not feel cold at any point during the weekend.

That next week was my birthday during which I was sick (My second illness in the month). I spent my birthday and the day after in clinics trying to get somebody to give me blood or stool tests, because the first doctor simply told me my problem was stress. The second doctor did no analyses but gave me an antiparasitic. At that point, I was tired of the doctors, so I just took it and hoped it would work (it did).

Although I spent most of my birthday in bed, I did take a little time to reflect on all that I have been able to do in the few years that I’ve been around. I have to admit, I’m not disappointed to be getting older (yet) because each year is bringing new opportunities and adventures. I’m hoping it will continue to be that way for many more years.

At the end of November, I finished my classes at the university and was allowed to begin traveling. At that time, I booked two additional trips because tickets were cheap and I was homesick. Last week, I was in Medellín with one of my roommates, and this week I am in San Andrés (a beautiful Caribbean island that is a part of Colombia). I will post soon about both of these places. I’ve been very happy to begin traveling and I’m looking forward to my future trips also. In total, I have almost two months to travel before university classes begin again. I am seeing my family, my boyfriend, and a variety of places in Colombia.