Time flies by and on Thursday it was time for me to say goodbye to Fundación La Vecina, the most adorable kids, and the whole community I have grown to love and think of as a family. My 4-month Experteering mission was everything I hoped for, and more. I got to know a whole new world in La Boquilla, discover the Education field, participate in and manage many interesting projects and challenge myself as a teacher. Working with Colombians was an other experience, in good and bad. Mostly, however, I remember everyone I collaborated with being extremely friendly and welcoming.
A few weeks ago I wrote a story for Moving Worlds, the organisation through which I found this project with La Vecina in Cartagena. It got a bit shorten in the end but I still think it sums up quite well my thoughts about these past months, you can take a look at my post on their blog here. Thanks guys for inviting me to join your team as a guest blogger!
I just want to post some pictures to say how much I love taking zumba classes. Today I can barely move because I've been doing sports everyday for over a week, but I just like it so much. Zumba classes with D are the the perfect way to learn how to dance the Colombian way, I swear it's not the same thing than doing Zumba in Europe. I think I still look more or less ridiculous compared to the Colombian girls in my group but I'm getting better each time. Besides, I like a lot this small town way of doing things: the teacher knows all of us, we are all friends and we do things together outside the classes as well. It's so different from going to a gym, participating in a class and then just leaving. Like in Jamaica, the dancers here form a tight community, and it's nice to be part of it now and get to meet new people all the time. And it is great to have time to go dancing almost everyday, easy life is so good.
Here are some pictures to show how much fun we always have:
Turning 26, enjoying every second of my life. Love it! :)
This past year has been a year full of adventures. Being 25 I traveled to Asia, Middle East and South/Latin America for the first time. I discovered many amazing and exotic countries such as China, Japan, Oman, Jamaica, Cuba, Brazil, and of course Colombia. I wrote another Master thesis and graduated from Uni with top grades. I worked with Microsoft, became a geek and had the best co-workers ever. Seriously, I've never had that much fun at work. I also discovered working in the education field and for a non profit organization. I like it a lot and I've fallen in love with the kids in La Boquilla. I got hit by a car on a casual morning run, was in Paris during the November 13 attacks, and got into a terrifying situation (guns involved) while visiting a favela in Brazil. I learnt that anything can happen and I do my best to enjoy and appreciate life every day. I had 4 very good friends move away from Paris and then eventually I left as well and am still in Colombia. I went on dates with can't remember how many guys but still didn't find my prince charming. Instead I made at least 50 new good friends and learnt a lot about myself and about what I want to do in life. I spent countless wonderful moments with people I love, and I hope I will keep doing exactly the same being 26.
Day 131, Cartagena: I'm trying to make you jealous with this list of my favourite moments. Did I succeed?
I like so much my Friday afternoon writing sessions. And today after my surfing class when I was waiting for the bus I stopped to think about my life and once again I came to the conclusion that I just love living in Cartagena. I like it so much that I am really getting sad because I only have two months left in Colombia. But at the same time I'm happy and enjoying my everyday-life so much that I can't really be sad. Nostalgic or wistful could be a better word.
While I'm having lunch and writing this, my new phone is charging and in configuration at Mac Center. These more than four days without a phone has been surprisingly ok. At first I was annoyed and going crazy trying to have my Lumia fixed but after I accepted that that is not going to happen before I get back to France, I have felt very relaxed and on holidays. It is quite nice actually to be disconnected. No Whatsapp, no Tinder, no idea what time it is, no taking pictures all the time. I've also noticed that I don't have any trouble waking up without an alarm. The only thing I miss is listening to music on the bus but instead I just watch outside from the window. Anyway, my new phone is almost in my hands and soon I will be able to take pictures again!
Waiting for that, here comes a list over things that I love the most about my life in Cartagena. Little moments when I couldn't feel happier and when I realize that the life I'm currently living is beyond awesome. Enjoy simple things and so on. Take a look and share your own favorites in comments.
I already wrote one post about my weekend that started on Friday: paddle boarding, then dinner and drinks with my new friend A. Except for the problems I have with my phone(s), it was a perfectly fun, relaxing and enjoyable day. On Saturday I went to my home beach in Marbella for a while, and once again was so happy about living so close to the beach. No planning or preparation needed, just put on your bikini, grab your towel and two minutes later you're there. In the evening I went with some friends to a house party in La Boquilla, and Sunday's program was a boat trip to Playa Blanca, swimming pool, and a walk home in the sunset. The days when I was a student and spent my weekends working at a smoothie bar, or doing homework and writing my thesis (or desperately trying to motivate myself to do homework or write my theses) seem so far away. It's funny how fast you get used to easy life. :)
I am back in Cartagena, and happy about that. On Sunday night we went with S and some other friends on an evening cruise around the city (it really is great that she works at a travel agency and is my personal tourist guide). The cruise was for free but all passengers had to buy rice and diapers that would be sent by boat to Ecuador, to help the victims of the earthquake. Thus it was for a very good reason that we spent our evening chilling on a catamaran, dancing and admiring our beautiful home town in the evening light.
Day 108, airport time: My life in Cartagena is starting to look like a happy routine, so it is time to go for a little adventure - in Brazil!
I haven’t been blogging for a while, I know. But thanks for all the page views and (Facebook) likes every time I post, it makes me happy!
After Semana Santa my life in Cartagena has fallen back into it’s routines and it feels like if I had been living here for a lot longer than two months. However, now it is time to take a turn and explore a new country. And not just any country, but Brazil! I’m writing this post at the airport in Bogota, and soon I’ll be boarding the plane to Sao Paulo. From there I will travel to Rio de Janeiro and reunite with two dear friends of mine, M and M: The Spanish M who you already know from this blog, and also Australian M, whom I haven’t seen since December, when she came to Finland for my graduation. I’m so looking forward to this trip and I can guarantee that with these two girls it will be fun!
I don’t usually work on Fridays but yesterday I did because we had some visitors coming to the foundation and I had to receive them since N is in the Netherlands. I didn’t mind though, it turned out to be a very nice and relaxing day. What we usually do with visitors is that we make a presentation about Fundación La Vecina and show them around in the school buildings. Then, if they want to spend more time discovering the Boquilla neighborhood, they can go on a canoe tour in the mangroves and have lunch in a traditional restaurant far away on a deserted beach. I had already seen some visitors come and go but this time, as it was Friday and I was not really even supposed to be at work, I decided to go with them and try out the tour so next time I know what I’m talking about.
I am at work so just writing a short post to say how much I enjoy spending my days amongst these adorable kids. This morning, right when I had started working, one of the youngest and cutest boys came to our office, together with our secretary, to wish me a felíz día de la mujer. He gave me a card and hugged me so hard that I almost started to cry. That was really the best way to start my day.
There is not much that could be more rewarding. I stand in the sun, on the patio of Fundación La Vecina’s side building and observe the cheerful chaos. Children run around, from classroom to another, or just for the sake of running. Once in a while one or two of them will come to me and give me a hug. They talk fast and unclearly so I never understand everything and they have to repeat thousand times, but I love the fact that they want to tell me how they are and what they are doing in classes. When I ask them if they are having fun or if they like coming to school they always say yes. This week one little boy told me that I am his favorite teacher. And I’m not even a teacher really. Aww, they are so cute. A clase de danza is going on in the middle of the patio, a group of 15 children is learning to dance to traditional Colombian rhymes. As Cubans and Jamaicans, these kids were also born with the moves and I admire them with envy. This is an ordinary afternoon amongst the children of Centro Educativo de la Fundación La Vecina. We are in La Boquilla, a very poor neighborhood of Cartagena, but somehow the kids still look happy.
I'm Emilia, Finnish-Parisian, a recent Master's graduate. I'm currently traveling around the Caribbean and on a volunteering mission in Colombia. I'm passionate about writing, music and different kinds of sports. I can't wait to discover new places and cultures - and share my adventures with you!