Part of pre-service training is a whole lot of community and school projects. In my pueblo we decided to do one large group project, then a few smaller projects in smaller groups. The group project is a series of three days where we work with community members to clean a public space of the pueblo. We went to a community meeting then went to the Alcadia’s office to get permission for the project and request any assistance with supplies. We met a baker who let us preorder cookies and bread so our helpers would have snacks as a thank you. We walked around the park the evening before with a whiteboard of information to invite anyone we could.
Day 1 was February 27th. We met in the large park at 6:45am to prep and starting a little after 7am we had about six community members ready to help! We split the group to divide and conquer. We had a lot of young people who were happy to help their community and clean the park they use everyday. Throughout the two hours, the groups grew and shifted. As an added surprise, the Alcadia’s office provided brooms, rakes, and dustpans which will be a huge asset in the next clean ups!
Our language professors, the Carmen’s, came as well. We’re lucky to have them!
The clean up was scheduled from 7am-9am. Throughout the two hours the crowd expanded to about thirty people! Winning! They were a great group, working hard and having fun. We have two more clean ups coming up. Stop by if you’re in the area 🙂
- No Dar Papaya!
- This is a great expression Peace Corps told us we would hear, and I’m happy to say my host mom used it the first time I went for training in a neighboring pueblo. It means to not tempt fate/ give anyone an opportunity to take something from you. Ultimately, no holding your phone for the world to see while walking through town people!
- When showing how tall or short a person is, your hand should be in a vertical position.
When talking about the height of animals, your hand should be horizontal.
- A la orden:
- Said after you purchase anything or often when you thank someone. It roughly means “at your service,” “you’re welcome,” “thank you,” and more.
- The Gripa:
- I’m not actually sure if this is how it is spelled in Spanish, but this is what it sounds like. It means having a cold. I happened to get “The Gripa” right after Carnival. And a fever to boot! Being hot inside and out is extremely uncomfortable. Most people when I mentioned I wasn’t feeling well was “zika?!?” No folks, luckily it was not zika.
- Always turn the water on before putting soap in your hands:
- Why? Because it’s lame to have soap on your hands only to find out there is not water. This has caught me…more times I am comfortable saying. Something about learning from mistakes…
- Check the water while taking a bucket bath:
- Sometimes you start with a bucket bath and then the water comes back on. Showering win!
It’s an exciting time to enter Colombia, right at the time of Festival and Carnival. I’ve heard about these events since the first few minutes of my time in country. Carnival is a specific celebration here on the coast. It is a huge, four-day celebration. Oh, and there are pre-Carnival celebrations as well. So it’s actually about a two-month celebration.
What I’ve learned about Festival and Carnival. These are two unique events. Festival celebrates the patron saint of each pueblo. This is also a four-day event, complete with lots of music, dancing, parades of horses doing a quick step in the streets, and ends with a procession of the saint around the pueblo.
Ready for Festival with my host sister and cousin
Carnival, if you ask, is all about bailar! Usually said while shimmying the shoulders. Carnival celebrates the different people of the area. There are different characters that people dress up as. My language teacher got me a red shirt with white polka dots, which is a very traditional Carnival pattern/color. There are lots of colors and accessories. People get all done up and then throw mecina in each others faces. That and shaving cream and water. Carnival es muy sucio! What is mecina you ask? It’s a type of flour. You’ll see people completely covered in it. My host mom was particularly enthusiastic about covering Jackie and I, to give us the legit experience of course. The first day of Carnival there is a huge parade that travels around town and ends in the center of town by the church, where a large stage is set up. Then a lot of music, dancing, and throwing various things at each other occurs. It ends with the Carnival Queen being chosen. This year, a fight broke out by someone who was displeased with the results. Before that happened though, Jackie and I danced it up with family, friends, and some little girls who were brave enough to dance with the gringas. They had some impressive moves!
There were lots of dancers in the parade
And trucks with more dancers
The second and third day there are smaller parties in different barrios, or neighborhoods. The fourth day we went to a nearby town to see people all dressed up in costumes and all the dance groups performed. Carnival is celebrated to the fullest, without a moment being wasted.
Get ready, Carnival is only 365 days away!