Monday, October 13, 2008

Ok, my first story - getting lost in Bucaramanga, and the vultures

Well, I decide I had to get out on my own. I have been a little apprehensive about this. But, I realized I had to do it. I walked over to the local bus stop and waited for a #27 bus. This bus takes you to the center of Bucaramanga, where the Mercado Central is located. It is a four story building square block of commerce. The 1st floor is full of veggie stands, the 2nd floor is fruit, the 3rd is eggs, meat and fish, and the fourth is restaurants, shoes and clothing stalls. This building is surrounded on all with streets of vendors selling everything imaginable. It is like the Orange County, Orange Coast College, and Golden West College wrapped up in to one. And, then injected with steriods. The first time I went with my roommate Sterling the first time, and he said, "I finally feel like I am in a third world country."
So, back to the story. I get on a #27 bus, and start my journey. However, 2 stops down the line the bus drive decided to change his bus route from #27 to #22. Not knowing, I thought that #22 would still be close to where #27 goes, Wrong! After about a half hour I realize that I am on the opposite side of Bucramanga and lost. So, I get off the bus and start cruising down the street the way I came.
After a few minutes I spot some veggies and fruits stands, so I go over to buy some stuff. After talking to some locals, I find out that this is the market for this area. There is a single story building full of stalls down the street. SO, I decide to take advantage and buy some more goodies.
As I walk down I notice that there is a fish monger on the corner across from the entrance to the building. It is around 12:30-1:pm, this is the time when stalls and vendors start closing shop. So, this fish monger is running a lottery for selections of fish. I sit and watch and am amazed at the sight. Then I turn and head towards the building, and I am stopped in my tracks. Above the entrance are about 8 to 10 big, and I mean big vultures. They are stareing at the fish, food and people. First, I get a creepy feeling, then I realize that nobody even acknowledges that they are there. As the fish monger takes down a bunch of fish and adds a new bunch, their heads start bobbing. All I could thing of was old disney movies like, Songs of the South, Dumbo, and jungle book. I started laughing and people started stareing, so I hussled myself into the building. But, I will never forget those vultures. I hope I can find my way back there to get a picture to post.
Side note: It took me an hour and a half, lugging my friuts and veggies. But I finally found a bus and got home. All in all it way a successful first foray. It was good to get lost and find my way back.
PSS- the Colombian people I met on this trip were smiling, friendly and helpful. NOT WHAT TV AND MOVIES TELL YOU THEY ARE LIKE!

More info bout my life in Colombia

I guess this economic quagmire has really messed up everybody. I think I came down at just the right time. Everything was cutting into my salary back in Socal. I am actually living better, and saving money. It costs me around 220,000.00 COP (about $105.00 a week to live here). So, around 900,000.00 COP a month(around $450.00-475.00). They pay me 1,650,000.00 COP, so I save 750,000.00 COP a month (around $325.00-350.00).
What else can I tell you, OH! I started physical therapy, Yeah! Right now it costs me 18,000 COP ($8.75) for and hour and half session. First, I get a half hour deep tissue massage on either my legs or my back, then ice and heat (backward from the way the do it in the states), electric stem, and the stretching and excercises. Between that and all the walking and climbing(up five flighte to my house), I do feel like I am getting stronger. However, the numbness down the outside of my right leg still has not gone away. But, my little Colombian therapist is working on it.
OH!, Someone asked me about TV, liquor, women, and food down here so I will add this to give you some more to read.
Yes they have regular TV, however, some of it is dubbed in Spanish and some is not. I watched House, Eli Stone, and Scrubs in English. Also they play reruns of 2 and a half men and friends every night, go figure? We don't get any college or Sunday football games. But, we get Sunday and Monday night football, dubbed in Spanish. I'm living off downloading off the torrents to stay current on my shows.
The national beer is Aguila, which means eagle. It's not bad and only 55 cents a bottle (1,100 COP). That's in most bars and resturants. It's the same price in the stores and most bars. The higer end beer is Gran Colombian, which is a heavier more hoppy beer. It goes for $1.00-1.50. It was this years(2008) best beer in the world award in Belgium. The liquor that is king here is aquadiente crystal. It's a little like vodka, but thicker and a little sweeter. But, tequlia and vodka flow here also.
There are a lot of good looking girls here. If you hang out at one of the local outdoor bars you will see some awesome Colombian women. Funny thing, unlike American women get mad if you look at their boobs sticking out of their lowcut tops, or their asses crammed into sprayed on hip hugger jean. Colombian women get a little miffed if you don't look. They see you stare and smile back and sometimes even put on a little show for you by leaning forward or swaying a little more.
Finally as for food they have beef and chicken all over the place. A carne asada steak or leg and thigh of chicken, veggies, rice and fruit juice cost 5,000 COP ($2.50), and a big steak with all the trimmings is around $10.00. They don't have drive thru's, everything is sit down or take out. The big chain here is a roasted chicken store called Jarro's. You can get pizza (not bad, but no deep dish), and other types of Italian food, Thai food, home made tamales, and the local favorite clavo (goat), which is yummy. However, except for local fare(clavo) the food is fair to above average. But, the ice cream is to die for. I know this sounds like I eat a lot, but I walk a hell of a lot also. And, between the operation (dropped 30 pounds) and living down here (another 15 pounds), I now weight 195 pounds, and the doctor that checked me out for my school health plan says that I should lose 15 more pounds. I know the less I weight the better it is for my back and my health, but I don't know about losing any more weight, because I have less energy. Well see!

Intial information on Colombia

Some of you may already have seen this stuff in my emails, so just skim and read:
Things are starting to settle down here. Did not teach the 1st week and started teaching this last week. Wow! What a difference! I have the "really bad 10th graders". The funny thing is that the 2 "really bad" 10th grade classes I have would be my best classes at Cabrillo or Renaissance. For one thing there are only 25 and 27 in the classes and they act like 8th or 9th graders. The teacher that I took over for had zero class discipline skills, and they treated her like shit because she was a Colombian teacher (remember these kids are well off and see Colombian teachers as below them). I heard they were a little bit scared of me, So, I came out with a brand new syllabus with new rules and consequences. I put the screws to them right away. I think they are pretty good kids, they just need some disicipline as they don't get it at home (the old parents give them everything routine).
Anyway, my home is nice (5th story penthouse), I share it with a 27 year old horn dog. David (from Chicago) is a lady's man who loves to go out, drink, chase women. My other roommate is Sterling (from San Diego), who is quiet and waiting for his girlfriend from Japan to move over here in November. I guess there plan is to move out into a one bedroom in January. The big problem is that there is no elevators, so I have to climb or go down 5 flights if I want to go someplace. But, I am getting exercise that way. The great thing is that I am only a 10-12 walk from school, the mall (with 2 stores like mini super walmarts, they have food, clothes, electronic, etc.), and an area of restaurants. Meals are pretty cheap. Yesterday, I had a steak, rice, veggies, plantains, and all the yummy fresh juice I could drink for 5,000 COP, that is about $2.35. Well, I going down to the pool to exercise and hang out. Talk to you soon,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,John

Explaining my blog

My first blog is in honor of a friend of mine, Wallace Russell. That is why I named the site where you can find this blog on, infinitekarma. I feel that this is the way he lives and some of it has rubbed off on me. People told me that I was crazy moving to Colombia. But, with my talks with Russell (who never said go or stay, he just talked), I made my choice. Then, I had a my dear friend, Glenda read my cards. I felt the karma pull me. So, here I am living proof of the idea of possibility and living outside the box. This blog is going to be about that concept. I will give you information about what it is like here. However, its all about the stories, some happy, some sad, some funny and some that are stupid. But, all will be true. So, sit back and enjoy my Mr. Toads Wild Ride, of my life in Bucaramanga. Colombia and beyond.