September 29, 2011

A Day Trip to San Cipriano

Without any of those long weekends we teachers love so much happening in September, I was feeling the itch to travel a bit. Thankfully, others felt the same! In the past two years, Kelsi and I have attempted to go to a place named San Cipriano on a variety of occasions, yet never successfully for a variety of reasons. Most of these reasons related back to us feeling like the process of getting there was just too much to deal with (2.5 hours on a city bus one-way, then hailing a passing bus for the ride home) and we had no desire to stay overnight in a place that had only been described to us as "rustic". 

This time around we managed to get 11 coworkers on board for the day trip, so I organized a charter bus to take us there and back. Miracle of miracles, the whole thing went off without a hitch and only ended up costing about $10,000 pesos ($5 USD) more per person than if we had taken the public bus. WIN! 

On the bus and ready to go with a great mix of old and new co-workers!

Next we piled out of the van and onto the brujitas. What is a brujita? Possibly the most ridiculous/ingenious form of transportation ever, but then again nothing in Colombia really surprises me anymore. Basically it is a motorcycle hooked up to a wooden platform with benches on it for riders to sit on. If there are more than about 5 riders a second platform is put in front of the first and the motorcycle just pushes that one along in front. I don't think words will do it justice, but hopefully you get an idea from the picture.

Boarding the brujita...

A brujita without an extra platform in get the idea. 

All aboard!

Looking ahead down the tracks! This part was scenic, but going over the bridges made me a bit nervous!

Once we were actually in San Cipriano we paid a small fee to get into the area where the river is and then found ourselves a place to rent tubes as well as order lunch for post-floating nourishment. We grabbed our tubes, loaded up the cooler and walked upstream about 45 minutes. From there we put in our tubes and off we went! The sun was shining, the river was clean and clear and the company was great! We took our time floating down river, taking time to talk, explore natural pools, ride down some of the rapids and just enjoy the day. At one point we took a serious pit-stop near a rope swing! I love rope swings into rivers and this one did not disappoint! Since the rope itself was located high above the river I found it easy to stay well above the water - long enough for Kelsi to snap a sweet picture!

Ready to go and waiting for the boys to get the cooler situation under control. 

The boys finish packing the cooler...

Por fin! They are ready to go!

Into the river!

Loving it already :) 

Naturally the cooler needed its own tube. 

Nowhere to be, nothing to do, a simple little kind of free.

Rope swings are the best things ever!

 After the river we enjoyed a traditional lunch of rice, platanos (smashed plantains), fish and salad before getting back on the bus to Cali. Shockingly, both the man to take us on the brujita and the man driving our bus were waiting for us at the designated places/times. Which worked out great for us, but as I told Kelsi later, probably wasn't the most accurate introduction for the new people to what travel in Colombia is actually like! We were home by 7:30 PM, in time to watch some TV and go to bed exhausted by 9 PM after a day of sun and adventures...

Cannot wait to go again soon!!

September 19, 2011

My Love for Rupert Pupkin & Fall TV

I have said it before, but this is a special time of year when it bears repeating...

The new school year is well underway, the Minnesota air smells of crisp leaves and apples, jeans & sweatshirt weather is just around the corner, and all one wants to do is cuddle up to watch some fabulous TV. Or if you happen to live in Colombia, where the temperature is about 83 degrees year round all you want to do is sit in pajamas on your bed with your roommate while you discuss all your favorite people-who-aren't-really-your-BFFs-but-you-talk-about-them-like-they-are-real-people-in-your-lives-anyway.

Fall TV season kicked off last night with the Emmys, so of course Kelsi and I made a dedicated TV watching date to check out all our favorite stars. So! Many! Amazingly! Hilarious! People! Jane Lynch hosted an elegant, hysterical show right from her opening act (if you missed it, watch that link right this second, please and thank you) with a background of various other characters throughout the night.

Now...while my love for TV shows is spread among many, there are five special men whose appearance on screen made me yell to Kelsi to get out of the shower cause "THEY'RE ON!!!"

In all their fabulousness, the men of Entourage: Kevin Connolly (E), Jeremy Piven (Ari Gold). Adrian Grenier (Rupert Pupkin (alias) AKA Vincent Chase), Jerry Ferrara (Turtle), and Kevin Dillon (Johnny Drama). After wrapping the 8th and final season of Entourage, which just finished airing last week, the boys appeared together to present two awards last night. Seeing them on stage together made me remember how sad I am that EIGHT SEASONS of ridiculous shenanigans are now over for good. (Albeit there is a lot of talk for an Entourage movie)

As much as I am a loyal Sex & the City girl, there is just something I have found hysterical about watching these five men "grow up" together on TV for eight seasons. Their quick-witted humor, brotherly bashing of each other, sense of adventure, and how much they truly cared about each other deep down made Entourage a fantastic show. And to be honest, there really isn't another one like it on TV right now. I am the first to admit that shows like Dawson's Creek, One Tree Hill, the OC, Gossip Girl, etc. sometimes seem like the same plot, different setting, but not Entourage. This show (like its female counterpart in SATC) broke boundaries of what it meant for four guys to be best friends, live together and work together in LA. And have a hell of a time doing it.

The men of Entourage will be sorely missed on TV this season...I mean, what's not to love there??? Thank goodness there are new episodes and new shows to keep us company while we cross our fingers that a movie gets made!

Happy watching :)

Colombia Year Two Photobook

Click here to view this photo book larger

I am on a roll lately with scrapbooking and photo books so this weekend I decided to continue the momentum and finish my Colombia Year 2 photo book. I love the new layouts Shutterfly has added recently and I am so excited to see all the bright, bold colors from this book in print!! Both this and the Spain one will make their way to Colombia when my mom comes to visit over Thanksgiving. Cannot wait!

Happy memory-making Monday friends!

September 16, 2011

Life List #41

Click here to view this photo book larger

Hooray!!! Thanks to many hours logged on Shutterfly, a few borrowed pictures from my mom and an awesome giveaway with a free coupon code from Doniree, I just ordered my Shutterfly scrapbook documenting my time studying abroad in Spain during the summer of 2007. (Hey - it's never too late for memories!) Check that one off the Life List!

Happy weekending friends!

September 6, 2011

Wedding Season: Weekend Two

Last Friday, September 2 I headed back to the Cali airport for the third time in four weeks. I was headed to another weekend wedding in Minnesota, this time for my friends Alex & Lindsey. Thankfully, all my flights went as scheduled and I arrived in Minnesota on Friday night in time to catch the end of the rehearsal dinner and spend some time with my brother Joe, who happened to be in town as well.

Alex & I at the rehearsal dinner.

Siblings at Billy's on Grand.

Saturday I was dressed with my heels on by 11 AM for a full day of wedding festivities. After meeting up with Libby and Jon, the two other ushers, we met the wedding party in Minneapolis for a series of pictures and champagne bottles. Starting with Alex & Lindsey first seeing each other on the Stone Arch Bridge and finishing in Rice Park, we had a blast goofing around together and taking pictures. Since Alex and I are friends from middle school, we have a lot of mutual friends from growing up and/or we have met each other's friends along the way, so the whole wedding was a reunion of sorts. Even for Alex & Lindsey, who live in California now and do not get home to Minnesota too often.

Middle school friends reunited! Matt, Alex, Andrew & I in the hotel getting ready.

Right after Alex & Lindsey saw each other for the first time that day!

Ushers (with pockets)!

The actual wedding happened at 5 PM on Saturday night; as the day ended they said their vows on the banks of the river overlooking downtown St. Paul from Harriet Island. The whole setting was absolutely gorgeous and despite a very windy afternoon, the wedding was fun, memorable and special for everyone involved. The reception took place in the adjoining pavilion, so with usher duties completed, we proceeded to enjoy a delicious dinner and great company. Lucky for me, my parents were also at the wedding, so this allowed me to spend some time with them on what was actually a very short trip home.

With the parents overlooking downtown St. Paul.

The rest of the reception included many of the same characters that I attended my 8th grade dance at Falcon Ridge Middle School alcohol and (some) maturity over time - so in short I had a blast. Finished my cake and barely remember sitting down the rest of the night I was having so much fun dancing!

Wedding planner extraordinaire and my fabulous friend Liz.

First Dance to "She's Everything" by Brad Paisley

My Wedding Date :)

With the bride & groom one last time before saying goodbye!

The end of the night came all too soon and saying goodbye to everyone, especially Alex & Lindsey felt way harder than I thought it would be. As always happens when I get together with the people who knew me when I was young, I remember that feeling of connected-ness and being around other people who just "get me". That is hard thing to say goodbye to, especially when I do so for months at a time.

I spent Sunday recovering from the wedding by eating lots of delicious foods at the Minnesota State Fair AKA The Great Minnesota Get Together. Along with 229,942 of my closest Minnesotan BFFs I visited the Leinie Lodge, took part in a Summit on a Stick experience, ate pronto pups, rode the giant slide, listened to some music, and roamed the fair trying to find the people I came with since apparently 229,943 people cannot all get cell service at once. the weather was cool with that crisp hint of fall in the air, so I sported the Twins sweatshirt and enjoyed that end of summer feeling that hints of new beginnings and new adventures.

Let's clink our glasses to that, shall we? :)

Two Summer Shandys and Two Oktoberfests at the Leinie Lodge

Minnesota Twins & me!!!!

Giant slide with the mother.

September 2, 2011

Open House & Meet the Parents (in Spanish!!!)

No, this blog post is not in Spanish....but my Open House presentation to parents was!! Last year I was terrified just to do my personal introduction in Spanish and my first year I wouldn't have dreamed of uttering one word. However, after conducting four rounds of parent-teacher conferences in Spanish over the last two years, using it on a daily basis without problem, and transitioning from that "think in English, translate to Spanish, then speak" to "just speak in Spanish" brain, I figured I better give it a shot.

Spoiler alert: It was fabulous!! Had to run over to Rob's (7th grade math teacher who teaches next door to me) room after 2 of 5 sections to tell him I was a Spanish rock star. Naturally.

In summary, so many parents mentioned to either me or my principal how great it was that I was using my Spanish, how comfortable they now feel in approaching me, and how much my Spanish has been "Colombianized" in that I now speak Spanish with the unique slang or idiosyncrasies of Colombian Spanish. After starting the first section a bit nervous, I got a big thumbs up from the elementary school principal who has a daughter in 8th grade and it was smooth sailing for the rest of the night.

I have been studying Spanish since 7th grade, continuing through high school, college, and studying abroad for a summer in Spain, so it is so nice to finally feel proficient in the language. Learning a second language is hard (just ask my roommate), but so completely rewarding when you master it. I still have a lot to learn in terms of grammar so that I do not sound like a four-year-old when I speak, but my confidence is definitely there. Now I just have to continue brainstorming ways to keep up with my Spanish when I move back to the United States!!

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