duminică, 13 mai 2012

Festival de la Leyenda Vallenata

Since I arrived in Colombia, and a little bit before too, everyone was telling me about the Festival Vallenato like about the ultimate madness. And here we were, few days before the festival started, traffic laws changed (no motos after 18.00), the city was slightly transforming and the people were going crazy...The legend behind the festival is a pretty nice and very catholic one. It is said that during the Spanish occupation, when the Spaniards were trying to Christianize the indigenous tribes of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, while they were haunting them through the deep forests, the indigenous poisoned a fountain from which the Spaniards drank being killed them right away. It is said that than the Virgin of Rosario came and did the miracle of reviving them and giving them strength to kill the Cacique (indigenous). Even today, this legend is being celebrated by the catholic church, the festivities including also a big celebration of the death of the Cacique...Unfortunately...because the arhuacos are one of the most peaceful tribes, having a profound understanding of the nature and its relation with humanity. In Valledupar, nobody is working during the festival, so we were on holidays too. The madness started on Friday with Piloneras parade. A colorful parade formed of tens of dance groups performing El Pilon. 65 folklore groups presented the Baile de las Piloneras, a traditional dance from the Valle de Upar (where the name of the capital of the district gained its name, Valledupar). The Pilon is a tool that the women used to crush corn and the Pilon song was the song they sang during their work. As time went by, it developed into a dance, and today it is one of the most typical elements of the vallenato culture. People were gathering around on the both sides of the street despite the high temperature and the burning sun. The dance it's really energetic and full of joy, the parade has a crazy rhythm, color and passion.
This is just a glimpse of the awesome parade that I really enjoyed. What came after it was more or less hell...cause, even if I live close to the street where the parade took place, it took me like forever to get home because all the city was blocked, a huge amount of people was trying to make its way out of there and everything was a chaos. And the chaos continued for another 4 days in which people from all over the country came to attend the festival and the city became overcrowded and impracticable. The next 4 days were all about accordion contests, reggeton and vallenato performances in the Park of the Vallenato legend. Since I am not very much into this kind of music I just went to see Juanes and I was really impressed with his performance and I had a lot of fun.

duminică, 8 aprilie 2012

The city of graffiti and Villa de Leyva

I was waiting so anxiously for this holiday week, that nothing in the world could make it go wrong. On Monday, we left Valledupar for Bogota and the Manu Chao concert. After 16 hours here we are in the capital. We quickly find a hostel and here we are wandering on the streets :) The old center looks so nice, and the colonial houses in Candelaria and all those narrow streets would like to keep me there forever. But unfortunately the bohemian spirit is killed by humongous sky-scrapers (very similar to our communist architecture), pollution and cars queuing on the main carreras.

And here we are, Tuesday evening heading to Plaza Bolivar which is packed with people and getting inside the crowd is impossible and more than extreme sport :) So, we sit on a beautiful street nearby the church and really enjoy. Meeting an old friend is always a pleasure, but meeting a friend after 1 year of traveling and new experiences for every of us is delightful :) After the concert we head up to our hostel and hang around with some Argentinian guys fostering intercultural exchange with some Cuba Libre.

The next day we get again lost in the big city on its never ending carreras and calles and we visit "Museo del Oro" (Gold Museum) - which is a history of all the Colombian natives carved in gold. I liked the fact that is very interactive and it offers a genuine experience of ancient times.

And here it comes the big night, another old good friend is joining the group and it's just us on the streets of Bogota fooling around like only we know. The following days were just about eating, drinking and most of all, enjoying being together. We weren't sightseeing, we weren't tourists we've just enjoyed the streets and the people.

On Friday we've decided that 3 days is more than enough for noisy, chaotic Bogota and we've moved in Villa de Leyva, a small colonial town, in an epic landscape. It is said to have the largest square in South America and indeed it is a very nice one surrounded just by colonial small houses in a bohemian atmosphere. That's were we found the best bar in Town: La Cava de Don Fernando! If all the bars would be like this, no one would ever by a house, we would all live in bars: good music by request, good local beer and the nicest bartender. We really had a good time!!!

And here I am on the road again...here, in Colombia, the way back to your house, offers you always a long time to reflect on your holidays. On Sunday very early in the morning, I arrive at the Valledupar bus-terminal and I must say, I missed...this heat! :)

Za humongous Bogota seen from Monserati

Walking on sunshine...

Happy three friends :)

On the streets of Candelaria

Villa de Leyva

miercuri, 21 martie 2012

Welcome to paradise!!!

By Edwige

Last Monday I was thinking: mmmmhhh I had a great weekend!!! A long, great chilling-drinking session on Friday night at David's, a great dinner and family at Enrique's place on Saturday and Sundays by the pool!!! Pretty great I can say... But what came next...mind-blowing!!!

We have planned this trip for so long, and I might say this was what kept us going :) And here it was: after a super stressed week in school and celebration of Saint Patrick's Day (me as leading role :D) on Friday...I jump on Julio's moto and rush to the main station for tickets. A bit of negotiation, a ticket sold in front of the office (just one for 5 persons), an unknown company....but nothing can take way the urge!!!

Shopping, fast luggage and shower, no sleep, a taxi in the middle of the night down to the southern station. 4 hours and a nap later we arrive in Santa Marta. Crowded market place, tiendas everywhere but still not much take away food... We hop on the first bus to Tayrona and after one hour...here we are in a dusty parking place, taking a sweet coffee "without sugar" and a "dedito con queso".

After another hour of negotiation for the entrance ticket (35.000 COP for foreigners) we are alone with in the jungle. We enjoy the walk, colored insects, flowers and lizards to get to the Caribbean Sea. I was already feeling like in a postcard, so I am still poor in epithets.

There were three days of walking through coconut forests, huge rocks, blue sea and hammocks. In fact, I don't remember exactly the dream cause I looked on the mirror when I woke up....:)

By Edwige

Everything was really like in a dream, just the sun burns are waking me up now and today's Adelante triunfante norteno!!! All those colored birds, huge butterflies, the blue sea, white sand, colorful hammocks and laid-back people and the loud music of jungle...hmmm...

joi, 8 martie 2012

Adelante triunfante norteno!!!

On Tuesday I enjoyed my first community meeting in which both students and teachers gather in the yard doing the following:
1. prayer
2. Colombian anthem and flag raising
3. Anthem of Valledupar and flag raising
4. Anthem of the college and flag raising - you can listen to it here http://gimnorte.edu.co/himno.htm
5. Flowers for Women's Day
6. Los mariachi para las senoras (I was asking myself why not vallenato?! Didn't find an answer yet, but might be because they consider mariachi something very extravagant :))
Everything was for me very strange and I think pointless. To have this meeting with the flags and anthems each Tuesday is a bit too much for me to handle...pero, asi es la vida!!! But the strangest thing was their "heil!" sign that they do while raising the flag - it's kind of heil but with a more complex position of the fingers.
Find more here :D http://gimnorte.edu.co/video.htm
The day continued with a moto ride to "Las Galerias": a loooot of people, tiendas and fruit juices everywhere and crazy traffic on my way home, but life from the back sit of a moto taxi is great.

News from el almuerzo:
- bananas (platano) everywhere: in the soup, as chips or cooked in some sauce;
- yuka basically sucks...didn't find a satisfying formula yet.
- tomate del arbol juice: DELICIOUS!!! DECILIOUS!!!

Weather forecast: FUCK the wind man!!!
It's awful!!! The wind is blowing strongly 24/7 bringing all the sand in my room, papers, nose, throat, eyes etc... Plus, every night it feels like the world has come to an end with all those sounds...

PS. Hope you'll like the anthem :))

duminică, 4 martie 2012

Me llaman calle...

By Dasa
No, no, I haven't met Manu Chao yet...but going out in the streets feels good.

After an exhausting week in school, registration in DAS (it's something like people evidence or something), finally weekend... So yesterday night we went out with the couchsurfers and it was great. We've talked a lot about lot of things, we laughed, drank beers and have an awesome time.

And like all good things...we ended up in the alternative bar again. It felt good, I almost can say I was out with my group of friends :) And in this occasion I found out some new tips to discover the area. And few minutes ago the land lord told us that he can take us to some pueblito close by where is colder and nicer...So, really looking forward!

New things that I've tryed:
- tutti frutti - fruits madness, all the fruits in one glass, really really good :)
- jugo de mango - good but not that awesome
- kalentao de la finca - humongous portion in Kokoriko (a restaurant in the shopping mall nearby) for 12.000 pesos; pretty delicious but to many things on only one plate: rice, 2 types of potatoes, chicken, arepa, egg...a bit too much :)

by Dasa

Greta and me in the alternative bar (also by Dasa)

vineri, 2 martie 2012


So, I was thinking the you might like an update :) Everything is going according the plan: still 35 degrees, still nasty kids in school, same lesson plans :) But this place is getting better because of the people!!! :)

Today there was my day in the radio. So in the big break there were Suie Paparude, Shukar Collective, Taraful din Clejani, Phoenix, Les Elephants Bizairre, Aeroport, G. Enescu in the background for the interview and it triumphantly ended with Edward Maya which of course it was the most successful. It was really great!!! At least the foreign teachers appreciated it and the intercultural exchange goes perfect!

Today apparently it was the cultural day, cause getting back home, we had some short unscheduled salsa lesson on the balcony and then short films honoring women in the Alianza Francesa. So a pretty good day for science :)

And about the children, some of them might already hate me, but that's good :D Muhahahaha! (I wouldn't say this in a normal disciplined school, but here....this is the way thinks work :D)

In meanwhile...oh joy!!! Here's the weekend! :)

PS. There was here also a celebration of 1st of March (no spring, don't even dream about it) - the day of the accountants!!! :-S

marți, 28 februarie 2012

Bienvenida a Colombia!!!

So, given the multiculturalism I am living in, I will switch from Romanian to English on this blog, and it is also very probable to mix Spanish, French and German too. I also must say that I will not be very coherent either...so here you are: two reasons good enough not to read what follows :))

Background: Sunny and hot and crazy wind, like very crazy wind - tormenta style (reason for all the sand or any other flying-in-the wind objects to sneak into my room).

News: I thought my Spanish was good, well...no, not really! Consequently here they don't say guay but chebre or vacano; joder is not good either, so...no jodas. And all these cultural differences are reflected in everyday life in a very rude way: have no idea about any fruit or any other kind of food that I can buy in Carrefour and breaking news: here all the yogurt you can find is sweet, I mean it has sugar inside...disgusting. Another news would be that here is pretty impolite to go in a shop just like that, without buying anything....say what???

Coolest things: mototaxi - for 2000 pesos (aprox. 1 dolar) you get anywhere in the city; lulo fresh juice - the first new fruit discovered and enjoyed (the others they eat unripe: mango with salt and pepper and a very green pomelos); you can drink everywhere on the streets; found a very cool bar in a garage - the alternative bar of the city - that is Bob Marley, Michael Jackson, Metallica, Adele and everything that is not vallenato.

Uncool things: the people from here don't quite enjoy nature nore care much about the marvelous surroundings of the city, so most of them will tell: oh is so dangerous to go there....I mean everywhere!!! and this is a bit shit, but I am not giving up and there are some other that won't either ;)

About the children: never heard any other child complaining like Ay profeeee, no homework no!!! But in the end they are funny and shouting "te iubesc" :) And the other teachers and school personnel are also very nice: from the day I arrived they were already calling my name and talking to me like we would be old pals :) There are also another exchange teachers, pretty cool and nice to hang around with and make future travel plans. And the language thing is just crazy: there are people who speak only Spanish, people that speak only English, people that speak French, Italian or German to some people, so I am not able to use only one language at a time, maybe just Romanian which is not helping though.