August 2, 2009

Getting started in Colombia

Well after two very longs of house hunting...I never want to see another Colombian apartment again. :) Just kidding, but seriously there have been two long days getting on and off the bus to look through apartments.

After arriving in Colombia late on Thursday night, we took a bus through the airport with no major issues in customs, thank goodness.  We arrived at our hotel and had all of our bags sent to our rooms by a lovely guy at the front desk, which was obviously super helpful with my heavy purple luggage.  We got online for a bit, because the hotel has free wireless, which is essential when traveling with teachers, and then went to bed!

Thursday started at 9 with a delicious continental breakfast at the hotel.  The breakfast set-up itself is typical of US hotels, but everything is fresh and delicious.  The first day I had granola with yogurt and sliced papaya with cinnamon tea.  After breakfast we had our blood drawn, because you need to know your blood type to obtain a Colombian identification card (la cedula).  The clinic we went to was gorgeous and nicer than any doctor's office I have ever been in.  The clinic itself is owned by the parents of a student at my school so the school has a good relationship with the staff there.  Afterwards we went to get our photos taken for the identification card.

For lunch we stopped at Crepes y Waffles.  I'm not sure how authentic Colombian it is, but I am in love with it!  They have an incredibly extensive menu and I cannot wait to try many many things!  For lunch (or more like dessert...) I had a waffle with Nutella (chocolatey, peanut butter type stuff) and bananas. Delicioso!! 

In the afternoon, our group of new teachers (14 in total) started looking at apartments in the Southern part of Cali, because that is where the school is located.  I found it incredibly helpful that people from the school came with to talk to us about the neighborhoods and also to ask questions.  I really liked many of the apartments in the South, but when you are taking a bus between each of them and getting on and off a lot I got a bit turned around about the location of each place.

Then at night I went over to my friends Angie and Caleb's place, which is only about 5 minutes from my hotel.  They are both teachers at my school, and I know both of them from La Crosse.  Caleb also majored in math education and he teaches 6th grade, while Angie teaches 8th grade English.  They have both been incredibly helpful and gracious in answering all of my questions this summer; I don't think I could have successfully moved to Cali without them.  In addition to answering all my questions, they also had me over for dinner last night, which tasted extra delicious after lots of eating out in Miami.  Kabobs and salad never tasted so good. :)  Also, I felt reassured to know that they have been here for a year and love it so far.  I might add that it helps that Caleb is also a Minnesota Twins fan, so having him down here is very reassuring.  ALSO, for all of you dying to know---the Twins signed a new shortstop yesterday (goodbye Nick Punto, you will not be missed) from Cartagena, Colombia.  Further proof that I am destined to love the Twins and they (Joe Mauer in particular) are destined to love me back. :)

Also, tried my first Colombian beer last night.  Caleb says there are about 4 varieties here...which is about 4,000 less than the States, so perhaps I will hunt down more vino than cerveza.  Overall, not bad, but it's no Summer Shandy, let me just say.

Today we looked at more apartments in the South and then more in the West part of town.  I really like the West part of town because many more restaurants and bars are located there, however it is about a 45-60 minute morning commute in traffic to school if you live there.  Since I will most likely go out to those places more on the weekends, and not every day of the week, I am going to live more in the South and then commute to those places as need be.  (I think I have way too many run-on sentences in the blog world...sorry.)  

So the plan for today is to finalize housing and then go from there!

Lots of love!

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