As I write this, I am sitting on my terrace enjoying the humming of birds and the thick jungle that surrounds the property. Can life get much better?! I have now been living here for a little bit more than a month, and can honestly say it’s been one of the most (if not THE) most profound, beautiful and transformative experiences of my life. It seems with every day that passes a new day emerges, brighter and more vibrant to take its’ place. The focus of my placement here is the practice Yoga, learning Spanish and volunteering within the community. Although… exploring the city with Tom (the other Carpe volunteer), meditation, reading, rooftop gatherings with friends, local concerts, trips to the river, vegetarian cooking, documentary house nights and medicine ceremonies have also found their way into my experience.
I am living in a beautiful, two-story house set in the mountains about 10 minutes outside of town. Two yoga instructors (whom I have grown to love very much), Samantha and Pablo, live here along with Sam’s son, Ilan. Tom arrived about 2 weeks ago and also lives with us… I feel very lucky to have someone like him here with me to share this experience. Ever since he arrived in Cali it seems that the laughing and good times have only increased. Tom and I take the bus (A06!) nearly every day to a “hip”, artsy part of town called San Antonio. There, we walk around the shops, indulge in local delicacies (champus, coconut ice cream, pandebono or my favorite.. pandeyucca), meet up with friends or just pass time in the park. A few days a week we teach an English class to students in the neighborhood, aged anywhere from 8-19 years. There are about 13 regular students that come, and each of one of them has made quite an impact on me. They are so intelligent, kind and well rounded… and (for the most part) are extremely motivated to learn English. Beyond language study, every class just feels like an exchange of beliefs, ideas and cultural norms between a close-knit group of friends. The more I teach the class, the more I realize they are as much, if not more, of a teacher to me as I am to them. Next week, Tom and I will be throwing a pizza party for them in honor of kicking off one of the very few vacation breaks they get (Semana Santa). I cannot say how much I enjoy spending time with these kids! Definitely one of the highlights of my week.
I know I would love Cali before I arrived, but I don’t think I expected to like it as much as I do. It’s truly a magical place where I feel as though anything is possible. I have two more months here (thank you Carpe Diem!) and I fully intend on making the best use of my time as possible. Love you all very much and I hope all of the Latitude students are having a great time!! Can’t wait to hear about all of your adventures. Muchosss besos, Julia
Also… a few facts about Colombia I think are cool… 1. Bananas are called bananos 2. There is one day of the week where certain numbers that correlate to the license plate are called… these cars with the numbers are not allowed to drive past 5 pm. This applies to everyone who owns a car and is intended to cut down on pollution. (The day here is called “Pico y Placa” and us strictly enforeced.) 3. Motorcycles are EVERYWHERE, but two men are never allowed to ride at the same time. More to come!