Today I woke up and ate breakfast – today without the cheese but with these crispy bread-ball things that I didn’t like all that much but I ate anyway because Chapter 13 of The Etiquette Book said I had to. Griffin especially will understand this, but something I do miss is hot tea. Normally, I drink at least five cups of hot tea a day, if not more. I haven’t had hot tea (or chocolate in edible, not drinkable, form) since I left home!
Then I downloaded a Spanish Reader on my Kindle, began to read An Atlas of Impossible Longing by Arunadhi Roy (for those of you who know that entire situation, laugh away, but I’m determined to finish the collection), and watched soccer at my hosts’ bequest.
I was also invited to go to the gym with my host, early in the morning. Guys, we all understand my aversion to the gym and all things sweat-related. It is a mark of how far I am willing to go to show my family in all ways that I am appreciative of what they do for me, that I agreed to go.
Let me repeat: I agreed to go to the gym early in the morning.
Afterwards, Javier drove me to the Plaza de los Artesanos, where I met Paola (the only member of my team that is here so far), and we walked to the abuelito’s home. When we got there, they were in a prayer session (someone comes in once every two weeks to lead the session), so we talked to Ricardo, a helper at the home, and a resident who, interestingly enough, was not taking part in the session.
This was actually an interesting event because here, everyone is very, very Catholic. (It’s manifested into some very awkward situations for me). Every room is filled with icons and illustrations of Mary and Jesus, and each home has at least one altar-type space reserved for a collection of iconography. The only book in this house- and in many houses- is a Bible. I have asked many people if they like to read, and they say reluctantly “not really,” and when I ask what their favorite thing to read is, they always say, “religious texts.” Always.
They do know Gabriel Garcia Marquez, though, and fondly call him “Gabi” throughout all of Latin America. Javier only knows 100 Years of Solitude, but Ricardo and the older man knew today of the others I had read, Love in the Time of Cholera and The General in His Labyrinth.
This man was interested in where I was from, and Paola translated his questions. I kid you not, these were the primary ones:
1. What do you know about aliens and why does the government cover everything up and away from you?
2. Do you know of Area 52?
3. Do you think that Neil Armstrong actually landed on the moon, or do you think it was fake?
This was my internal response:
Then Paola left and I went to the University of Tolima for Spanish lessons. It’s way too far to walk, so I took a taxi. Taxis here are the equivalent of two or three dollars for a 10 minute ride, so it’s really cheap comparatively. Though I didn’t walk, this is the typical street in Ibague:
Once there, I was taught Spanish in the beginning class. The amount of information was overwhelming, but we are taught by a student of the University of Tolima, rather than a teacher, so I used the time not only to learn Spanish, but also to observe the way she taught the class and interacted with the students. This was important to me because this was the equivalent of one of my roles at UNC Charlotte: I, a student, teach other students. I’ll take these observations and apply them constructively to my own classes at home.
Then I took another cab home, where my host mom gave me a dinner of salmon (yay!), rice, and a salad of tomato slices, cucumber slices, onions, lemon juice, and salt. (Daddy, it reminded me a lot of our spring salads at home). I didn’t get juice this time, but a lemony tea, which is not nearly as delicious as the tea I get at home, but then again I’m biased because it’s the best in the world.