Catching up

I’ve been crappy for accounting for my whereabouts, so I’m going to do a crazy long catch-up post:
First off, about a week and a half ago, I moved again, this time to a more permanent situation. It’s an old house with six other Colombians, who are all artists. It’s also kind of a “punk house,” you could say: when I asked one of my roommates if the house has a name she replied, “La Casa Pantera.” So metal. Anyway, there’s art and punk band posters all over the wall, which gives the place a lot of personality. On the first floor is the living room, a little work space with computers, the kitchen, two bedrooms and a biiig patio with lots of plants. It also has an adobe chimney, but I haven’t used it yet. Part of the patio is open-air and the other half is covered by a very VERY tall ceiling. To dry our laundry, we have to use push brooms hooked onto clothes hangers with the article of clothing, lift them up to the rafters and hook them on. It’s time consuming and a bit of a pain, but mostly amusing. The patio is where I eat breakfast every morning.
On the second floor are 3 more bedrooms plus an office/bedroom and a few bathrooms. My room is very large and lets in a lot of light. I’m still working on the decorating process. It’s a bit barren-looking at the moment. Oh and I almost forgot to mention! The garage has been converted into a painting studio!! A very light-filled painting studio!! (The ceiling is made of translucent material.) I haven’t given it a whirl yet, but watch out world!!! Awesomeness coming soon! I took some pictures of the house with my cell phone, but I’m going to wait until I take some with my nice camera to show you what it looks like. In the mean time, here’s a little teaser:
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The house is the Chapinero/Galerías neighborhood. It’s called ‘Galerías’ because there’s a lot of shopping nearby, which is pretty darn convenient. I don’t have pictures of the shops, but here are some photos I took within the block around my house:

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Beautiful view while walking to the bus.
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I took these at around 8 am on a Saturday. The streets were empty!

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Later that same Saturday (Oct 26th), I went to a discussion group about Foucault’s views on “governmentality.” It Spanish. I understood about 75% of it. Nonetheless, it was fun to listen. Also, it was in a new neighborhood wayyyy on the south side of the city, so it was nice to check out somewhere new.

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Arriving to the Transmilenio station.
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The discussion was held on a balcony of the apartment of one of the participants, which offered an INCREDIBLE view. That was probably the best part!
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Later that evening, myself and my friend Camilo, who invited me to the discussion, joined my roommates for “La Noche en Blanco,” an all-night art festival in the street. The art itself was nothing super awe-inspiring– soundless, amateur cinema projections on the sides of buildings, light installations, streamers hanging from the trees, etc.– but it was mostly fun to get to know my new roommates better and spend a night out on the street without having to worry about safety. The streets were full of people having a good time and at night, it’s considerably more dangerous when the streets are empty. As such, I could have my camera out with no problems. Here’s a photo of my roommates taking a leap in front of one of the projections.  _DSC0385b
One of the best “installations” was a broken-down car in the street, open to the public to smash and vandalize as they please. One roommate and I jumped up and down on the room as someone nearby played music. It was extremely satisfying.

On Monday afternoon, there was a heavy storm. Camilo and I were in a Panadería/Café as it hailed (very unusual) and stormed and the streets, and subsequently the café, flooded. Most of these little cafes use a garage door instead of a regular door to open to the public, so there was nothing keeping the rain out. Camilo and I raised our feet up and drank coffee and hypothesized apocalyptic scenarios until I had to go to class.
The institute can give you any given level for any given class, but these days, I’m mostly given advanced classes, which are a lot more fun. The classes are small and when the students can understand a good deal of what you’re saying, it keeps you an opportunity to play more. And, oh man! Having the liberty to draw and write on a whiteboard in front of a class satisfies so many childhood dreams…. oddly…
After class, before biking straight home, I stopped at a liquor store. That whole block that the liquor store was on had lost power due to the store. As such, I ended up buying a bottle of rum by candlelight. It was very a la 1700s. Very romantic! … in a drunkard sort of way.
The rum was bought, along with mint the next morning, as goodies for Tuesday. My only student on Tuesday is at night and she happened to cancel her private class to go to a Justin Bieber concert. Works for me! I took advantage of the freedom and decided to skip town for a bit with my friend, Felipe. His family has a finca about two hours west of the city. The best translation of a “finca” is a country home, which doesn’t entirely seem accurate considering that title usually brings to mind (at least for me) a cottage in the prairie with cow or pig-adored accoutrements and a “HOME SWEET HOME” tacked up above a row of red and white checkered oven mitts.
The finca is essentially in the jungle, though not like amazonias jungle (which is in a different part of Colombia). To get there, Feli and I met up at the Transmilenio station early that morning. We took that to the outskirts of the city and then took a flota, which is the name of buses outside the city. Here’s a shot of the foggy morning through the window of the bus:
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That bus took us to a small town called San Francisco. It’s quite ironic, but only a select few of you readers will know why. We picked up some snacks, since there’s no other place close to the finca to do so, and then took a jeep up the mountain. It let us off just down the road from where we needed to go. Here’s the road leading to the house:  _DSC0416b
When we arrived, Felipe gave me a little tour around…_DSC0424b _DSC0435b _DSC0438
We made lunch, then mojitos, then just sat in the sun and listened to music and danced salsa and I drew and we looked out at the view of the mountains. When we ran out of limes, I ran around barefoot picking more off the trees, using my shirt as a bag to carry all of them back to the house.
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The next morning we cleaned up and left in the morning to make sure we could get back to the city in time for my class later that evening. The next few photos are of the bus stop:
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The rest of the week was a weird mix of trying to go to the Ministry of Exterior Relations and ending up at the wrong location, walking around, buying things for my new room (hangings, waste basket, etc), hanging out with friends, etc. Oh and I Friday I walked a bunch to get to this University to see a poetry reading and when I got there, no one knew anything about any poetry event and LET me just say, I verified the directions quite well. That’s just Colombia for ya….
This past Saturday I walked around more– I’ve been doing a lot of walking– met up with a friend, walked back to my house and helped him prep his Halloween costume before prepping my own.

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I ended up getting super lost, dressed as outer space, trying to find this party. How does outer space get lost?!? It ended up taking me about an hour and a half to make it there, but it was great once I finally did. I was greeting by a nun, Super Mario and a barbeque still sizzlin’. Thank the LoRRRddddd!

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Yesterday I…. er…. recovered from the party, watched Netflix and later was persuaded to go out to the apartment of a friend of a friend for pizza and Spanish charades. It was very silly. All the while, I kept my notebook in front of me to make note of new vocabulary, which I am learning a LOT of! I was just thinking of how much vocab I’ve learned in the past six weeks and I’m pretty proud of myself. I also have learned a LOT of slang. It makes a lot of my friends laugh to hear me using Bogota slang in a very NOT Bogotano accent.
Today I went for a bike ride in what started out as a drizzled and ended up as a full-on downpour. Yay! Rainy season! At least the temperature isn’t too bad. No complaints from me. Oh, and it’s festivo, a day off, so the Ciclovia, the bike program which blocks off streets for bikers, was open. Rain or shine, it was good fun.

This week I’m going to work on getting some more furniture, apply for additional work, try to get my head on straight and prepare to go camping this weekend!! Woohoo! Adventure! I’ll do my best to post another something before then.

As a quick comment, I’d like to mention that I used sticky paper to draw and cut out the continents of the world and stick them to back of my leather jacket (to make my leather jacket planet earth) and the North America continent started to peel off right away. The other continents shortly followed. South America is the only continent that has not peeled whatsoever.

Much love to all my Yanks.
Xena

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