Dancing Queens

14 02 2011

Yeah, that’s right. Kristi (one of my best friends since forever and also a PT) came to visit.  And yes, that’s right. We totally lit up the Salsa dance floor.  Well that might be a slight exaggeration.  But we sure gave it our white-girl best.  Kristi was actually pretty good and a very quick learner (not surprising to those of you who know her… and her love of dancing). And I well, I struggled a bit.  For one thing I was (no joke)  a foot and a half taller than the instructor (a fact we all got a good laugh about).  For the other… I just really lack that swagger gene. I am goofy.  And yes, even when I dance Salsa I am goofy (not surprising to those of you who know me).

What a time Kristi and I had… even off the dance floor.  She (for those of you who know her) is a little, or should we say a lot, more high energy than I am. Therefore, these were 10 jammed and action-packed, exhausting but totally gratifying 10 days. 

Day1: Chiquitines.  I was so impressed with Kristi– as an outpatient orthopedic PT, she was a little nervous about working with these little fellers. But she jumped right in.  It was super helpful because all the kids got double the PT for the week. And she never let her (how should I put this) slightly limited Spanish stand in her way– full-bore ahead!  It was so cool to talk with her that afternoon. She is so smart and has a unique perspective about PT interventions … and had so many cool insights and ideas regarding working with kids who are being raised in institutions.  I am pretty sure that after this half day she was hooked! 

Kristi and the craziness of the toddler play room

That afternoon a little touring a Loma de la Cruz– a cool outdoor market with hand-made artisan shops.

DAY 2:  Touring Cali.  We hit a lot of the major sites in the Center of the city including La Iglesia de Merced and the Museums, museum of modern art, saw the cats of Cali… ate a delicious fruit cocktail (which to our surprise was actually a cocktail) and walked around a lot! Walking around A LOT would be a major theme of our trip.

DAY 3: In the morning we hit the road with Magnolia and Negra to do what all Calinians do on beautiful Sunday mornings– we went to the River Pance.  It was amazing, beautiful, invigorating, breathtaking…. and absolutely freezing.  They took us too a secret spot and for a while and it was just the four of us– have I mentioned just how fantastic these ladies are!

Entering the freezing water: Kristi, Magnolia and Negra


Then we changed locations, Kristi and I hiked (basically we jogged up, so at not to make Negra and Magnolia wait too long) up to this amazing and beautiful water fall.  We wanted to hang out, jump in, relax… but well, as stated previously, we had to run back down.  Fastest hike of my life.  Then for lunch Kristi was introduced to Colombian food at its finest– aka plantains friend in various ways and combinations, arepas, and empanadas.  I liked it, so did Kristi… but I don’t think her digestive system liked it as much as we did.

Keely and said waterfall

This is a good time to tell you about the Keely and Kristi meal time tradition in Colombia.  We both are absolutely fascinated with the prevalence of freshness– there are SOOOO many delicious fruits and veggies all over the place. It was so fun to have a buddy to buy and try this stuff with.  I think like 4-5 times we made delicious and fresh guacamole, mango salsa and salad.  We of course ate the guac with plantain chips. Seriously people… delicious!

DAY4 and 6: Oscar Scarpetta– the beginning of the work week.  I am not sure if Kristi ever actually said these words… but I am quite certain she fell in love with this place. We worked with babies/toddlers in the morning. And spent the afternoons hangout with school-aged kids, even a little bit of English homework help with some of the adolescents.  Forgive me if I have already talked about this… but it is worth a repeat.  The adolescents at Oscar Scarpetta are amazing- they are these beautiful, dynamic and very curious people.  We had so much fun laughing with them… attempting to teach them the very tricky English language, listening to music.  I even got in a deep discussion with one teenage girl about the need for preparing children living in protection (in all countries, not just Colombia…even kids in foster care in the US) for independent living.  This group of kids have so much potential.  And Kristi loved them– she connected right away. It was cool to watch.

Babies in the morning

Big kids in the afternoon

DAY 5:  Fundamor.  This was a huge day of orientation for both of us.  I had not met many of the kids I will be working with there yet.  So we got the lowdown on everyone… and then they brought about 5 of them in the therapy room at once.  It was a bit overwhelming, but there was so much energy in the room. I love the therapists (a PT and an OT) that currently work here– they are so amazing.  We had such a great day!! Consequently… this was also the day that we discovered that we had lice (see previous blog post) so we sat on Magno’s porch and washed it out. Then put on our dancing shoes for the big Salsa dance lessons.  What a day!

DAY7, DAY8 Chiquetines: We hung out with all the little kiddies. Got all the kids seen.  Even took a little time to read to some of the others who are not on my caseload but still are in DESPERATE need for a little lovin’.  Thursday night we hit up the neighborhood Salsa club (which is also a huge hotspot for the tourists) Tin Tin Deo. Friday afternoon we busted out the doors at 12:00 on the dot to make it to the bus station for our little get-away. Shockingly, we bought a bunch of fresh fruit and plantain chips as snack for the road– destination: Coffee Region near a city called Armenia. It was about a 3 hour bus ride and then a little busetta ride to the Hotel/Finca we were staying at.

Kristi and I were so geeked-out when we got to this place.  It was amazing. We are not the type of traveler’s who stay in places like this.  We couldn’t believe all the we got for the price!! It was out of town… so peaceful and quiet and had such cool character.  The staff was adorable and so helpful.  I feel like I am writing a little PR for these people so I might as well drop the name in case any of you reading this find yourself near Armenia Colombia needing a place to stay– seriously it is fantastic: Hosteria Mi Monaco.  Check it out. Tell them I sent you.

DAY9: Coffee Park.  That’s right. We went to a theme park. But it was like no theme park I have ever experienced. It was this vast, huge, beautiful open park.  Yes, it had roller coasters, rides the spin you around, “the dragon”, that one that raises up and suddenly drops you in a free fall. Yes, we rode them.  Yes, Kristi got her vestibular sensory fix. Yes, I was screaming my head-off, acting like a baby, and feeling just a wee-bit sick to my stomach.  BUT… the fun did not stop there. We also rode horses (Kristi had a dress on… quite a sceptical) we got a personal tour through the entire process of growing to roasting coffee, visited the coffee museum, rode a gondola, walked along a nature trail, and shopped ALOT.

View from the gondola

Pre-ride... you can tell because Keely is smiling... and not hiperventilating

Yep, still the Coffee Park... told you this place was huge!

Lost in the Bamboo forest... nature walk at Coffee Park

Nope... we have not left the park yet.

Kristi, re-living her cow-girl days (and yes, we are still in the Coffee Park)


But perhaps the thing that we will both remember in 50 years… when the memories of the coffee park have fadded a bit… will be the bus ride home from the park in the busetta.  Night is quickly approaching. Finally the bus picks us up. We marched on, walked to the back. As usual, we were noticed. No real surprise there. I asked the driver if the bus passed Mi Monaco (awesome hotel… don’t forget) he said yes.  all good. I sit in the back corner near an older lady.  She has headphones on.  She then starts talking to me in broken English. “Hi Gringa. You monas son american?” I answer in Spanish and we continue the convo in Spanish (but for the purposes of this little blog I will write in English) We exchange the usual pleasantries. I ask if she knows where Mi Monaco is.  (She still has her headphones on by the way… so her speech volume is well above normal conversation) She at that point begins hollering all the way to the front of the bus to the driver: “we have some gringas on the bus who need to go to Mi Monaco” Everyone starts laughing.  “we don’t want to have the gringas miss their stop” “gringas this” “gringas that” People are laughing more.  The conductor hollers back that he knows.  She reminds him a few more times. — even at one point she thought he made a wrong turn and the yelling recommenced “don’t get lost… we have gringas on the bus today.” Because of her breaking the ice, lots of people on the bus then kind of started  chatting with us.  I think those little “back of the bus” conversations are some of the coolest parts of traveling like this. There are so many fantastic people in this world.

DAY10: We hung out by the pool (thanks to a sudden dissolving of clouds) played a little sand volleyball and then headed back home.  One last night of our famous dinner… guac, mango salsa and salad– seemed a fitting way to end it. Lots of great convos. And Kristi left at 4:00 that morning. I don’t remember much about that part. But it rained all day that day.  I think Colombia missed her.  So did I.

More soon on some exciting current updates!





One response

22 02 2011
Mama Juan

I love seeing you and Kristi together and hearing about your adventures. Should have had some pictures of you eating!! That is a really cute photo
of Kristi and the two toddlers. She looks like she belongs there. Back of
the bus stories. You do have lots of bus stories from Columbia and Ethiopia.

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