Friday, June 12, 2009

¡Todo es chévere!

New Words

Chévere -- the Colombian all-purpose adjective: Cool! Sweet! Awesome! Delicious! Perfect! Super-Fun

Arepa -- delicious breakfast food, that kind of looks like a mix between a hash brown and a pancake but takes nothing like that combination. It usually is accompanied by butter, cheese, and eggs. ¡MUY RICO!

Ubicar -- to locate, to find: ¿Estás ubicado? Do you know where the hell you are?

Franja -- stripe or band: For your safety, do not stand on the yellow FRANJA.

Lúdico -- fun, non-academic: usually describing activities

Pico y placa -- As words, together they make no sense as far as I know, but to Rolos (those who live in Bogotá) it is the traffic control system which determines which cars can drive on which days

Incrustado -- embedded, inlaid; however, when used to describe how you feel about life, it means that you'd rather not: Él está incrustado de la vida.

Billetera -- wallet

Alcadía -- governmental body for a city, the head official is called the Alcalde, similar to a mayor

Granadilla -- One of the most delicious fruits on the planet despite that the insides look like a giant slug upon first opening

Rumba -- partying, clubbing, dancing, drinking, the usual fun stuff

Chimba -- Bogotá slang for a good time, cool, fun, etc


How exciting it is to be in Bogotá! The city is alive and absolutely full of people. I have never been anywhere like it. I would even venture to say that New York would have a hard time keeping up especially with the buses that give you no more than one second to board.
I apologize for not having written sooner, but there has been so much to do and see. To catch up, I'll start form the beginning.

Monday, June 8th

I left my home and family (see my most magnificent mother and me below), and stepped on to a plane headed for Miami Despite a 24 hour flu and some strange single-serving encounters during the flight, I arrived and was picked up by Deivid and his most gracious family. After doing some major packing, we rested for our final day in the United States.

Tuesday, June 9th

Drive to the airport, check in 6 bags (carry-on 2), shuffle in socks through security, wait at the gate, board the plane ... nerves on end. The plane is gigantic (see below), no one is speaking English, but the food is delicious (Note: Comparable only to other airline food), and the entertainment is even better: choice of movies, tv shows, music, even games such as
Who Wants to be a Millionaire? (apparently not me). Avianca treats its passengers well.

Once darkness settled in, we arrived to be picked up by a friendly and generous crowd of Deivid's family. After we had a quick bite to eat at Deivid's tío's (Uncle's) place (sandwich con jamón y queso) and dropped Deivid off with some bags at his abuelos' (grandparents') place, I left with Cristian and Daniel, the Colombian team leaders, to stay with Dani at his most hospitable tía's. Although I lost at both FIFA and Mortal Kombat vs. DC, it was a great first meeting, and I couldn't be more excited for our project.

Wednesday, June 10th

Woke up with a swollen left earlobe, second guessed the spontaneous decision to pierce ear 3 days before the trip, but the day began anyway and only got better. It stared with a most delicious typical Colombian breakfast: aprepas con queso y huevos and chocolate milk. ¡Que rica! I then walked around the city for a bit with Dani to get a fell for the city. Later we met up with Deivid and headed for Suba, the district for Bogotá where we will be hosting the project. There we met with Carlos Camacho, an official of the Alcaldía of Suba. After our meeting we toured the different sites in the area where we will be able to take the students. See picture of Plaza de Suba below.

After we finished all of the business for the day, we called for one last meeting with Dani, Cristian and some new members of the Colombian Taller de Paz team: Kathrin Lopez, Diana Diazgranados, and David Gonzalez at a nearby pub in "El T" next to the center of social life in the area Parque 93. I don't believe there is a country in this world without an Irish pub.

Thursday, June 11th

Ear inflammation went down thanks to some quick action on the part of Deivid and Dani with some Isodine ... Youthful rebellion still intact!

Today we visited La Javeriana, the home school of our Colombian team. On our way there, we rode one of the many buses that weave in and our as well as stop suddenly anywhere and everywhere throughout the city. While on the bus, we were provided with entertainment by a street performer who hopped on with his guitar. The music was bittersweet, and at the very least, moving for this young, impressionable American.
Listen to a sample in the player below.

The rest of the day we spent searching for an apartment. We finally settled on a small but cozy, one-room apartment, complete with a bed space, kitchen space, table space, patio, tv, and internet. It is also near the Transmilenio which is Bogotá's public transportation system. It consists of a network of buses that drive around the city in Solo Buses lanes and stop at numerous stations. It has so far been very fast, efficient, and cheap. We concluded our day with a little unpacking and some prep work for the project.

Friday, June 12th

Late start, but not too late all things considered. Hopped onto the Transmilenio and rode over to the office of Deivid's grandfather's leather store, La Riviera. We drove over to their place for a delicious lunch of chicken rice and veggies. On our way back to the office we stopped by Parque 93 and picked up some Juan Valdez coffee, Colombia's (tastier) version of Starbucks. Afterwords, Deivid and I visited Parque Nacional, a wonderful green space in the city. (See photo below)

We returned to the office and helped to pack up and ship the last order of the day. Leather wallets, belts, and bags sell very well around Father's Day. As Deivid slid the boxes down a long wooden ramp, I caught them and tossed them over metal rollers to the waiting truck. To finish the day, Deivid's tíos (Aunt and Uncle) invited us to dinner at the Corral in
La Gran Estacion, a rather large shopping mall in Bogotá. We then did a little grocery shopping and called it a night.

(This is the milk section ... bagged and not refrigerated, but still delicious)


This has been my/our first week in Bogotá, and it has been muy chévere. Thanks to everyone who has made our move to the city so easy and enjoyable. Be sure to check out the slide show on the sidebar to see all of the photos from this week. If you click on it, you should be able to view larger versions.

Much Love


Alex Frye

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