September 1, 2009

Expatriate Living: Rule #1

Make local friends.

And then make some more of them. :)

In the past few days Maggie and I have been busy with school and new friends. Our new friends, Anita and her husband Alvaro, have been lifesavers in the past week for many reasons. Let's start at the beginning. So like I said before, Maggie befriended Anita on the bus ride to Nirvana. In order to continue to practice our Spanish and for Anita & Alvaro to practice their English we decided to get together on Sunday. Anita and Alvaro picked us up at our apartment around 9 to go to breakfast. We went to another bakery close by our house that Maggie scoped out the day before. Both Maggie and I started the day with an arepa (weird, i know) filled with cheese, lulo juice, coffee, and a pastry. Heaven. While we were at the bakery we ran 2 other groups of teachers from Bolivar and Jeff, random guy we met at the video store who speaks English because he was in the US Marines. Therefore, we have decided this bakery is clearly the spot to be on Sunday mornings. :)

Back to the story. So we enjoy a lovely breakfast, then head off to Piedra Linda, "Pretty Stone", Alvaro and Anita's country club. Upon arriving at the club, we fell in love with the relaxed nature of it immediately. Piedra Linda is definitely a place friends go to hang out and see each other, which is a bit different than Club Campestre, where people seem to go to be seen. We proceeded to spend the day in the pool, went for a jog, and had a delicious lunch. All the while practicing our Spanish and English. We told Alvaro and Anita to correct us when we make grammatical mistakes, and this has been so helpful! Instead of just getting the words out and sounding like a 5 year old, I am getting better at grammer and sounding like an adult. Hooray! After our day with Anita and Alvaro, Maggie and I went to Home Center for some things and we even found it easier to speak in Spanish there after spending a whole day with A & A.

THEN, yesterday Maggie and I needed to go the bank to pay our rent and have our accounts linked so we can transfer money to each other as well. We assumed the experience was basically going to be a disaster since banks in the US = long lines, waiting and complicated procedures. I don't think it takes a math major to figure out that those things plus language barrier = disaster. Maggie emails Anita during the day for advice and of course she is more than willing to help!

Cultural Footnote: In the US, we value individuality. Therefore, if you asked me how to do something at the bank I would explain it to you, tell you where the bank was, wish you good luck and send you off on your own. Here in Colombia, they take time to go with you. Basically this is their version of being friendly and polite. I love it.

After school Alvaro picks us up and we head to the bank, where it takes Maggie and I all of about 3.2 seconds to realize Anita is our saving grace. The lines are long, and banking is complicated. Half an hour later we left the bank with accounts programmed! Hooray! We then took the Mio up to the west part of the city to visit Anita's friend who is going to hem our pants. Maggie and I both have a few pairs of pants that are a bit too long to wear with flat shoes, but that is what we wear to teach because no one in their right mind teaches children in heels. (sorry Sarah Jessica Parker, but it's not happening)

After the adventures of the afternoon we FINALLY got a chance to repay Anita a bit, and she came over for spagetti dinner and fresh bread. After dinner we showed her pictures, which she of course loved. Since Colombians are so family oriented she LOVED seeing pictures of our families, especially Maggie's nephew and my goddaughter. All in all a wonderful night with too many details to properly document. :)

In summary we cannot wait to get to know them further, for they have already been such good friends so far! We have taken to calling Alvaro by the name Tio Alvaro which means Uncle Alvaro because he is constantly watching out for us. When we took the Mio (public transport system which is totally safe) he told us to watch our bags like 3 times and called Anita to make sure we got there and back safely. Weird---having an overly anxious father figure??? I can't relate at all. ;)

Tomorrrow: FULL report on Parents Open House night.

I. am. nervous. Eeeeeeek.


Unknown said...

Rule #2: Find a good bakery in your new town! hehe

Nicole said...

SO good to hear that you have found a good lifeline in Colombia! It's always good to have a native australia/colombian to turn to when you need the little things. (ie: pants hemming, getting out of jail etc)

Kristin said...

Thanks Nicole :)

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