Hey guys! Sorry for the lack of posts, but I’ve been with my host family in Cali, Colombia since Saturday because their relative had her first communion ceremony. Pictures later in the post 🙂
First, on Friday, we didn’t have to work because the entire team had what they called “The Amazing Race.” I thought it’d be all fun and games (literally) in one location, but alas, this was not the case. We ran (again, literally) across the city of Ibague for 3 hours on a scavenger hunt.
I paid money to run.
On top of the fact that my abs were killing me from those 200 sit ups.
These pictures are the aftermath (my abs look great now, though!)
I’m holding a water in that last picture, all liquids come in plastic bags here, unlike the plastic cartons we have at home.
Then, early on Saturday, we left to make the trek to Cali. It’s a six-hour drive (approximately) through the mountains, and is beautiful. All of the pictures are taken from the car window, so they don’t really encompass the true beauty of the drive. Quite fleeting, too, since we were taking the mountain curves at 60 mph, at least.
The road was lined, when not deserted entirely, by these homes, or small towns/villages/groups of houses. Clusters of houses, here, on the side of the mountains, should probably be more accurately described (to our first-world, Western ears) as shanty-towns, kind of like what you might imagine Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family lived in all those years ago when they finally resettled out West, and before they had the money to move into town during the winter, or to build a more substantial log house in the Ozarks. I’ll do a post one day on housing in Colombia, because it varies widely (as in the USA, but drop the luxury bar a few notches down).
Though this picture has a car, it was not uncommon, as we drove deeper into the mountains, to see horses, donkeys, mules, and oxen, and on the way home we were stopped in the road by a herd of them meandering down the highway.
All along these mountains were banana farms, cascading green down the sides of the steeps. As we drove out of the mountains, added to these banana farms were papaya farms, sugar cane farms, and corn fields. They’re also doing some phenomenal bridge and highway work, stuff my dad would totally be interested in, but I don’t have the words to ask or the comprehension to understand about them.
Then we got to the top of a really high mountain (I forgot its name), and driving up it looked as if we were going to drive through the clouds, and when we got there they were so close, their down layer, that it was almost- almost – as if I could touch them. This picture’s pretty crappy but I tried to get the look of the distant clouds floating lower in the valley, so it looked as if I could go cloud-skating on them, if only I’d had the cloud-skates to do so. (look in the left bottom corner).
Then we got stuck in traffic, stuck enough to have to turn off the car, get out, walk around, and say no to vendors selling drinks and snacks during the wait. Once through, there was no clear reason as to why it had begun.
Then we stopped in Buca to see the chapel, and we walked in in the middle of the service, so we had to stand until it was over.
Then we finally got to Cali. It wasn’t actually that beautiful- it’s larger than Ibague by far but is nestled in the bottom of the valley and shrouded in smog until the mountains in the distance look like the afterthought smudge of a child’s fingerpainting, barely visible and unrecognizable from dark clouds. Their family was super sweet, however, and offered to keep my entire family, should they ever want to come, in their house (how, I don’t know), and fed me (the intestine was hard to digest, but I’ll tell that story later), and told me to come back whenever.
We went to the first Communion ceremony:
I started and finished The Goldfinch, which was surprisingly good (the last few pages, as always, just make it), and it has allusions to The Idiot by Dostoevsky and others that I love, so it was a great find and finish. I’d recommend.
Then we went home, and more mountains. An idea of the smog: this cloud is not a cloud. It is an amalgamated mass of some chemical that was drifting from a fire on the ground. It was denser and darker than the other clouds, and you could see an oily golden sheen around the edges when the sun tried to burst through. I wrote an entire essay in my head about it (my Kindle had died by this point so I had to amuse myself for six hours), and perhaps that will make its way here eventually (in different form, of course, I never wrote it down).
Then we stopped by a small town (more like village, by the sizes implied by those two terms), to buy traditional sweets
And then by a fruit stand to buy produce.
Then we ate lunch at a cute shack on the side of the road, and made our way home.
Until tomorrow and regular posting, plus the Japan and Colombia futbol game!