It has been so long since I’ve last updated! I wish I had a ton of exciting news to report but not much has happened. It’s weird, I feel super busy some days and others I’m paralyzed by my boredom. It has been 3 weeks since we swore in as volunteers and began 2 months of “vacation.” Some of us moved and are spending time getting to know our new sites, some of us are visiting schools and meeting neighbors and probably all of us are binging on Netflix and reading whole novels in one day. It has been challenging not having a set schedule living in an urban setting makes it challenging to integrate in my community, however I’ve found some stuff to occupy my time.
After swear in, we had one week off which I spent watching “Homeland,” hanging out with other volunteers and settling in to my new house. The next week was the All Volunteer Conference, where every PC volunteer in Colombia was whisked away to a nice little hotel by the beach. We spent our days in meetings and our nights by the pool, tough life, huh? This year, the conference coincided with Thanksgiving which was nice because we were all together. The food was less than impressive and there were no mashed potatoes or pumpkin pie which was absolutely devastating. However, I spent the rest of the afternoon at the beach. I missed my family desperately but was happy to be surrounded by such good people. Black Friday lived up to its name, but not for the usual reasons. It marked the end of the AVC which meant we had to say good bye to our friends not placed in Barranquilla. This was harder than last time because we aren’t sure when we will see each other next. The tension was thick and everyone was a little off, I know I didn’t feel like myself. I spent the rest of the weekend hanging around the house and wallowing in self-pity, which based on conversations with other volunteers, isn’t unusual.
On Monday I pulled myself out of bed and went to the beach. It was just what I needed to reinvigorate myself and get ready for an English immersion camp I volunteered to help with the rest of the week. Tuesday was our planning meeting and in Wednesday camp began. The camp wasn’t in Barranquilla but a little pueblo outside of town. I had to catch a bus at 620 to make the 7 am bus out of town. As you may know, I can’t function before 9 am so I arrived to school in a zombie-like state, unsure of what to expect. Everything we have learned about the relaxed lifestyle on the coast still did not prepare me for what came next: an empty gym and a bummed out English teacher. The woman in charge of recruiting kids for the camp forgot to do her job and no had shown up. We were all a little deflated but left with the promise that tomorrow, kids would be there and ready to learn.
The day wasn’t a total loss because we decided to go to Boca de Cenizas, the point where the sea meets the Magdalena River. We took a little “train” out to a shanty town on a narrow peninsula. A 30 minute hike over some rocks later and there we were, at what seemed like the edge of the world. It was absolutely breath taking. I have a whole other blog post planned which will detail the trip. Just know, that if you plan on visiting me, we will definitely be making the trip out there.
The next two days of English camp were a blur. We had about 20 campers and we were divided into 4 teams, each with a different country name. I was a counselor for team Italy and even though we didn’t win a single competition, the kids had an absolute blast. It was a great learning experience for both them and me. It was amazing to see how these teenagers participated in every silly game we planned for them and how excited they would get upon receiving a little sticker to reward them for their efforts.
One day after camp, I had to rush back to Barranquilla for my school’s graduation ceremony. I was extremely nervous as I walked into the country club that had been rented out for the occasion. I didn’t even know these kids and had only met a few of the teachers, however right when I walked in the doors a woman welcomed me by name and showed me to my seat, which was in the front row! The rest of the ceremony went smoothly and was fairly comparable to ceremonies in the states….long and boring. A musical intermission with a man covering Enrique Iglesias, a Lion King-style presentation of one of the graduate’s children and a champagne toast with the students spiced things up a bit 🙂 The second the ceremony was over, someone handed me a small bouquet of flowers and my coworkers rushed me out so we could beat traffic and get the party started. We went to dinner and then to a club. The thought of my 545 alarm and my 1.5 hour commute to camp was in the back of my head all night so I ducked out early. I had a blast and it was great to already feel like a part of the staff.
Tonight is the “Eve of the Immaculate Conception” which is apparently a very big deal here on the coast. It’s confusing because Christmas is 3 weeks away…shouldn’t the immaculate conception be celebrated in March? Regardless, we are hosting a big party and I get to meet all of the extended family. It should be interesting. This weekend I’m off to a pueblo to help build a house for a family in need. Fingers crossed I don’t lose a limb or end up in the hospital! Happy Holidays, friends. On Thanksgiving, I spent some time reflecting on all of the joys in my life and I am thankful for each and every one of you. Besos! 😘❤️