Monday, November 16, 2009

Recuerdos a Colombia

Here I am at the Colegio Panamericano wearing a wig and dressed up as an old woman on Halloween during my first teaching year at the school. Juile Holdridge, another teacher, is seated next to me. I taught English to pre-school through fifth grades for two years there.

If I remember correctly, the name "Bucaramanga" is taken from two words, "the Bucas" and the "mangas." I don't know if the Bucas are a tribe or what. This city is the capital of the northeastern state of Santander. It lies in the plateau (the Cordillera Oriental) of the Andes mountains. It was so scenic and had the nicest weather I remember any country having - not too hot nor cold.
I am remembering Colombia because my Colombian friend called me tonight and we spoke for an hour, and I might add, only in Spanish! Although I now teach Spanish at a local Christian school, about twenty-five years had passed since I spoke the language regularly. It was quite a challenge, therefore, to speak for such a long time tonight! It felt great!
I spoke with my friend Arcinovice. We were young women in Bucaramanga back the, and attended the same church. We had a few adventures as we traveled together to her home town of Corro Morro and back to Bucaramanga during one "puente" (three-day weekend). A great storm hit and all transport had been cancelled from the town. Massive amounts of mud covered everything. I remember stopping at a restaurant and eating. The cook actually killed a chicken in front of my very eyes. The ensuing pandemonium caused me to stop eating chicken for two years! From that restaurant , we actually hitchhiked, and ended up on a beer truck (me lying on top of the beer bottles in the back, Arcinovi sitting up front in the more respectable spot). The driver stopped every fifteen minutes to sell his wares! We did arrive back in time for me to teach on the appointed day. What a wonderful and crazy memory that trip was!
Arcinovice was always beautifully-made up and elegant, with painted nails. She dressed very fashionably. There I was, a simple, very plain gal who almost never wore any make-up, dressed comfortably and was always ready for a trip within the country. Though we were so different, Arcinovice and I hit it off and had great times together, usually along with another friend our age, Patricia.
Life seemed very simple then. I lived to travel and traveled to live. What a joy! Colombia was a dream-come-true for me. I made very little money teaching, but it cost very little to travel. It was easy-to-get-around. I had lots of people my age to travel with, and I didn't mind traveling alone if I couldn't find anyone. My church was there; I worked with the local teenagers and the five-family missionary team. I didn't think life could get any better back then...
I remembered that feeling of carefree abandon tonight when I spoke to my friend from so long ago. We spoke of our travels, the food, our friends and how the city had changed, along with our lives.
"So when will you return to Colombia?" she asked me in Spanish.
"Algun dia, me gustaria mucho. Vamos a ver." I'd like to return very much one day. Let's see.
I wonder if I will ever make it back. Can we ever return ... re-experience such visits ... such a place in time? At one time I would not have hesitated to take the next flight over. Have these last few years back home changed me that much???

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