On a Colombian adventure.
A recent email exchange with a friend made me think a lot about the decision my husband and I made to relocate to Colombia even though our son was only one year old at the time. (Marcello turned two just a few days ago; we have been in Barranquilla about 10 months now.) My friend paid me the wonderful compliment of telling me that I have a sense of adventure and flexibility that she feels is too often missing in today’s parenting. She also said that the most important thing is that our children feel (and are) loved and safe, and that my blog reminds her that it’s great to expose your child to new experiences even if the initial days are a hassle and a lot of things are different.
I agree with my friend – the most important thing is that my son is loved and safe – and I also firmly believe that the benefits of our family’s move to Colombia greatly outweigh the downsides. That being said, I would be totally disingenuous if I pretended that our transition to Colombia doesn’t occasionally bring some of those, “Oh, this is not good…” parenting moments.
In the interest of those with young ‘uns who might be considering an international move or other leap of faith – and perhaps in the interest of clearing my own conscious (Guilty Mama, as the Runaway Mama would say) – I write to share with you a few of the downsides, a few of the upsides, and why I believe the latter win out overall. Continue reading
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Tagged adventure, baby, barranquilla, Colombia, daycare, expat, food, health, Latin America, parenting, PriceSmart, south america, travel
To be fair, these guys are outside a small military installation (I’m told it’s a colonel’s home) a couple of blocks from our house. They were very friendly.
Last week, my husband and I and our friend Scott took our usual Friday night trip to the movies at Barranquilla’s swanky Buenavista Mall. As is my routine, I stopped in the bathroom before the show. Coming out, I nearly ran slap into a big guy holding a really big gun – some kind of military-style assault rifle or semi-automatic type thing. (Can you tell how much I know about guns? It’s not much.) I jumped back, since this was not really what I expected in the middle of a nice multiplex movie theater in a very large, ultra-posh North American-style mall. I quickly realized that the movie theater offices were located near that particular bathroom, and that the guy with the gun was in the hallway probably because he and his partner were picking up or delivering a bunch of cash, á la Brinks in the U.S.
This was nothing I hadn’t seen before in Colombia. Continue reading
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Tagged adventure, barranquilla, cnn, Colombia, expat, gun control, guns, juan valdez, Latin America, newtown, nra, politics, sandy hook, south america
I haven’t yet had a chance to see the Colombia special that aired yesterday on CNN as part of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. I did, however, read the partial coverage provided by the CNN article, 10 Things to know before visiting Colombia, by Justin Calderon. I liked the article very much, but found that as a Barranquillera (however new I may be!), coffee lover, and salsa dancer, a few things need to be clarified.
While I’m definitely in my comfort zone in talking about coffee and salsa, I can’t speak to the cultures of any city in Colombia other than Barranquilla, and even then I still have a lot to learn. As the author rightly points out, Colombia’s climates vary wildly – and I would add that so do the cultures of this vast and diverse country. With that caveat, below are a few things that came to mind from the Barranquilla perspective after reading the CNN article. Continue reading
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Tagged adventure, anthony bourdain, barranquilla, cnn, coffee, Colombia, food, juan valdez, Latin America, salsa dancing, south america, travel
Hearts around the world ached upon hearing the news of the lives lost or forever changed by the bombings near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The assaults were an attack on our humanity, an affront to our collective conscience. To hurt for the victims and to feel revulsion for the killers required neither U.S. citizenship nor personal experience with terrorism, and it certainly didn’t require one to be a marathon runner. And yet, for me, the fact that the bombings occurred so close to the finish line of such a revered and enduring road race – one that I’ve aspired to run one day – made the tragedy feel awfully close to home.
The Starting Line of the Barran10Killa
The Finish Line of the Barran10Killa
I’m a lifelong runner and have finished three marathons – far fewer than many people I know. Yet each of those three 26.2 mile / 40 kilometer events has been a point of extreme happiness in my life. Continue reading
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Tagged barranquilla, boston marathon, Colombia, community, expat, Latin America, life, personal empowerment, reykjavik marathon, running, south america, sports, travel
“Congratulations to the great city of Barranquilla. From the first time we visited, we felt at home.”
I think we’re officially Barranquilleros now! The clip to the left is from the April 8th edition of the local paper, La Libertad. The photo and quote were taken when Gio and I attended “Barranquilla Sabe Cantar” (“Barranquilla Knows How to Sing”), a free community event celebrating the City of Barranquilla’s 200th Birthday. We were asked if we’d like to extend our congratulations to the City, and of course we said yes! Even though our quote was “doctored” a little bit and makes us look more like visitors than residents, we’ll ignore that and instead assume that this means we have indeed arrived. Hooray!
As you might imagine or know from personal experience, living in another country requires getting used to certain things that, if you’re lucky, you never have to encounter during short-term travel. Among those are health care and health insurance systems. Besides obvious challenges like trying to describe your symptoms in a language that’s not your native tongue, there are lots of other surprises — good and bad. Here’s my top ten list of how going to the doctor in Colombia is different than in the U.S.: Continue reading
In some ways, Carnaval is all about dressing up in outlandish ways — either to hide our true selves in order to temporarily be someone we’re not (and perhaps give ourselves permission to indulge in ways that we normally wouldn’t), to allow a usually buried part of our personality to take the stage, or to simply revel in the joie de vivre of life’s excesses, good and bad. And yet, even with all the feathers, the makeup, the glitter, what shines through most is our humanness, our oneness, our inherent beauty. So without further ado (at this point, I recommend cueing up “Human” by the Killers as your viewing soundtrack), I present you with a few of the faces, a few of the people — a few of all of us — who made Barranquilla’s 200th Carnaval an experience to remember. Continue reading