Wednesday, August 26, 2009

First Month In Colombia

Today marks our first month in Colombia. We decided to celebrate with honey-baked chicken, new potatoes, zucchini, tres leches cake, and one Club Colombia (a type of beer highly recommended to us by our dear language tutor Marta...she even suggested we mix it with a sweet soda to give it to the kids, but we declined. Apparently it won the highest prize in the world of beers.) During supper, we all made a list of the things we have learned during this first month.

Every lunch in Colombia includes a potato, rice, meat, and some sort of fresh juice.

Saying hello and goodbye (usually with a kiss on the cheek) is extremely important.

It is also important to eat all your food (if you can).

When a teacher enters the room, all the students stand by their desks and say "buenas dias."

People here are nice, respectful, and helpful (nicer than a city in the US).

We have learned to like plantains, especially platacons.

Fresh fruit is everywhere, including coconut.

Colombians don't point with their finger, but they do point with their lips (which is really strange).

You have to be very careful of cars. They drive wherever they fit, and drivers are crazy.

We have five bakeries in our neighborhood, and we have figured out which is the best.

Hot dogs (perros caliente) sometimes come with crushed potato chips and pineapple sauce on top.

We found some really good pizza.

We know the difference between a "tinto," "cafe con leche," and a "cappachino."

Attending to all your relationships simultaneously is extremely important.

There are kids at school with disabilities and they are not teased. Kids go out of their way to help them.

We found a special park, just for roller-blading.

There are lots of motorcycles, bikes, roller skates, scooters. Aaron even saw two delivery motor cycles drive right into a restaurant to pick up the food at the counter.

It is pretty common to see a poor (possibly displaced) person driving through the city with a horse and cart.

You don't put toilet paper in the toilet in Colombia.

Everybody plays together at school. No one is bullied or left out.

We learned a new kind of tag/hide and go seek called "Uno, Dos, Tres, Parame."

Appearances are very important.

Students are expected to be on time, and their homework must be just right, with perfect handwriting.

People write in cursive right away.

Notebooks, paper, and electronics are extremely expensive.

Colombian ketchup does not taste like regular ketchup.

Milk and drinkable yogurt comes in bags (and tastes very good). We also found soy milk.

They have a tiny chocolate bar called a "Jet bar." In the wrapper there is a sticker of an animal, which the kids collect in a book.

You are expected to respect anyone older than you.

Colombians eat out a lot. It is often cheaper than cooking at home.

There are a lot of dogs, stray and not. We also have dogs at our school.

We learned how to clean the outside of a window on the seventh floor of a high rise.

There is no blasting music in the mall, and we found a Baskin Robbins.

Dunkin' Donuts is really big here.

Some people sleep on the street, in parks, and under bridges.

Bogota is cold and hot, cloudy and sunny, windy and calm, rainy and dry every day. The weather changes really quickly.

When we see the mountains, we know we are heading east.

Colombians have lots of locks (we have three in our apartment).

Never slam the door in a taxi (they will make you get out).

Birthdays are really big here. (We have two invitations for this weekend).

We have to tell the taxi drivers where to go, which is sometimes really hard in Spanish.

The buses have numbers to tell you where to go.

Silverware is brought to the table on a tray and passed around before the food arrives.

"Micro-futball" is everywhere. It is type of soccer played on a really small field (like for 3 v 3 in the US) and it is usually cement. One plays with a heavier ball as well.

Cookies are often dry and not very sweet.

You can make juice out of any fruit.

We learned how to make jugo con leche, and we often have it for breakfast.

We all like Ajiaco, which is a traditional Colombian soup make with three different potatoes, chicken, and an unusual herb. It is also served with a chunk of avacado, rice, and arepe on the side.

Passionfruit is incredible, awesome, and wierd.

We found a fruit that looks like tadpoles, or dinosaur boogers. It has a name, but we call it "booger-fruit."

Avacados are huge, creamy, and perfectly ripe.

You can get an incredible vegetarian meal for only $3.

You can see monkeys in the wild (on our list to do).

In music class, we are learning "We all live in a jello submarine."


  1. love, love, loved this post!!! what a whole lot of accomplishment.

  2. What a great, long (and, I'm sure, incomplete) list of learnings. I wonder how many of these new things will make the "things we will miss most about Colombia" list someday.

    I can totally picture all of you pointing with your lips. I love it.

    I would like to see a picture of booger-fruit, please.

    I also really want to try a Club Colombia and a jet bar.

  3. Thanks for sharing. I loved reading what you've learned and to know that you are celebrating that. I can't believe that avocado!! Makes ours seem very lame.

  4. Oh, I would love an avocado like that!

  5. i'm going to start pointing with my lips.

    take a secret video, please.

    oh, i want to be there. what an adventure. what beauty you are seeing.

  6. Ah yes the difficult to find "Jello Submarine." Love it.

  7. Very enjoyable read. Looking forward to your monkey-finding expidition and your perceptions of the tropical forests there.

  8. I love this post! What a month of accomplishments, large and small.

  9. Dear Aaron and Jennifer,
    I love your blog! Of course I want to hear more about soccer.
    All the best,
    Becky (in Akron)

  10. I remember all of these things from my time in Colombia, and I've been craving perros calientes ever since I read this!