Sunday, May 25, 2008

Colombia update

Friends, it has been awhile since I updated my blog and for that I apologize. Life has kept me busy and a little lazy here!

OK, I finished three weeks of Spanish school in Cartegena. And I also learned the basics of Merengue and Salsa dancing but probably not quite good enough to just show up at a discoteca and start dancing with locals -- although I did dance with some gringas who were also learning the dances. Cartagena was very hot, even for a tropical boy like me, with a high each day of about 35/95, although the nights with the cool breeze from the ocean were just gorgeous. The Colombian family that I lived with was nice and I was able to communicate with them much better after a few weeks.

I made so many good friends at Spanish school, both Colombians and other foreigners from all over the world studying here just like me. We took some trips out of town together and I hope to post some pictures soon.

A bit over a week ago I moved to the beautiful city of Medellin which has a much more moderate climate. The high temperature each day probably averages about 23/74 this time of year, the rainy season. But it has been raining a lot here, especially in the late afternoon.

My Spanish has definitely improved. I can read magazines and newspapers pretty easily. And I can watch a Spanish subtitled movie and watch it and understand it. I can communicate most ideas in Spanish pretty easily. But I cannot understand Colombians talking at full speed, not even close really, nor can I watch a Spanish movie without Spanish subtitles and understand most of it. But I can have long conversations without much pause if they are willing to slow down.

It is probably easier for me to get around a country like this than the USA because there are more buses and transportation options here, I can communicate and ask questions even if I have to ask them to repeat what they just said, and transportation and lodging are cheaper. That being said, I have found Colombia to be somewhat more expensive that southeast Asia. And many fewer people here speak English. I could not imagine traveling here without at least basic Spanish.

Yes, the rumors are true, the women here are gorgeous. And they tend to paint on their clothes, especially jeans which seem to be the outfit of choice. On Friday evening four of us are going out (two guys, two Colombian girls) for a dancing night on the town. Hmmm . . . I am thinking of taking more dancing lessons before then as they are really good!

So far, it has been generally safe here. About what I would have expected. I do know two foreigners who got drugged (drinks spiked) and then got their wallets stolen (they woke up hours later in a random hotel lobby, they are fine now) but, then again, they got into the car of someone they met at a bar at 1 AM in the morning. There does not appear to be much police corruption here compared to other countries. Generally, people can walk at night here without issues. Based on my travel experience, I think that Quito and Rio de Janeiro are both much more dangerous. OK, that is it for now, more later.

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