July 7, 2017
You can't say no to salsa.
I have been in Colombia for only a week, and I have already danced on two separate occasions, once in Bogota and once here in Buga. It has been eons since I last partner danced, and no alcohol had been involved in those days. But the Colombian people seem to feel it's just as natural to dance with a stranger as it is to talk with one over a drink or two--their warmth has melted my cold northern blood a bit, I must say.
The courtyard at Hotel EcoBoutique in Bogota.
A singer and a few dancers (Bogota).
Or maybe it's the weather. As of now it's about 83, with a 55% chance of rain (typical for the jungle). One of the 15 Colombian teacher's we're training told us that the weather report here is always inaccurate, and so far I think she's right; it has not rained once in Buga (at least not during my waking hours), and the humidity is not as bad as in Micronesia, in spite of what I'd read online. (I honestly don't think any place is more humid than Micronesia, although Mississippi in July comes close.)
We did have a rather strange rain two days ago, however. Shreds of blackened sugar cane leaves (burned to prevent the workers' hands from being sliced up) slowly floated down around the compound, floating like feathers onto our shoulders and clothing. The IMCA hotel, where we are staying, has an small open courtyard in the center, and the floor was sprinkled with the ashes here, too.
A typical day here begins at about 6 am if I'm going walking around "the farm"; or 7 am if I sleep in. I shower and apply bug repellent before walking to the kitchen/dining room. Zika, dengue fever, and malaria have all been reported in the area. I've had three mosquito bites so far (not bad for me, but being reminded of the burn of tropical mosquito bites was not pleasant the first time) and so far I don't seem to be dying of anything.
Our breakfasts are usually eggs and an arepa, a sort of fry bread made of corn. Sometimes there is cereal or yogurt. There is almost always fruit and fruit juice (mango, passion fruit, guava, pineapple, or papaya). Today we had little croissants with the local queso inside (sort of the consistency of feta cheese, but with a milder flavor). We have also had a fruit almost exactly like a Kosraean tangerine, with a green rind that is easy to peel and is filled with small orange fruit that tastes like lime and tangerines had a love affair.
Our morning training session begins at 8:30 and breaks at 10:30 for a snack (more fruit and/or fruit juice, and sometimes something fried, like plantains), and we continue for another hour until lunch. At this time, more bug repellent follows, because the dining room is completely open-air--which is lovely with breezes but involves a lot of flies and mosquitoes. Lunch has been beef, chicken, or fish, with white rice, some kind of small vegetable or salad (the beets were fantastic!), and something fried. After lunch we have kind of a siesta from 1:00 - 3:30. Sometimes people take a taxi to town to go shopping or sightseeing (the basilica and the iguana park are the only sights, really), or else stay behind to sleep, swim, or catch up on work or e-mails.
Things that will not make it through U.S. Customs.
The afternoon wakes up a bit with a snack, usually more fruit and fruit juice, although we've had jello and yesterday we had brownies with ice cream! Our participants usually present their book club activities or lesson plans in the afternoon, with dinner from 6-7 (more of the same), and evening session from 7 until 8:30 or so. My co-teacher and I usually help groups prepare for their presentations until 9:30 or so.
It is after sunset that the geckos really take off their chirping—catching mosquitoes and cheering each other on, it seems. They remind me so much of the lamwher on Pohnpei! Same size, color (a kind of peachy-pinkish-grey), and sound!
After dinner and evening session, it's more bug spray and beer (the popular brand is Club, pronounced cloob, which is basically Bud Light with an Inca drawing on the can) and/or sleep.