I’m now four/five days into my homestay and Saturday night was a great turning point with my family – we got plastered together, Colombia style. But my story begins a few hours earlier, when I shunned Spanish lessons in favour of taking a day trip to Gautape, a cute town famous for amazing frescoes, and El Pinol, a big rock you can climb and see all the surrounding lakes. On the way up the rock I met a family with young girls who spoke a teeny bit of English, and they were all (especially the dad) very excited to try to talk to me.
Seven hundred and something steps later and some amusing English attempted by the dad, we reached the top of the rock to absolutely stunning views. I then had my photo taken on random people‘s cameras before we made our way back down.
After the rock, I got a little moto bus thing to Guatape, 2km away, and spent about an hour taking photos of all the colourful frescoes adorning the shops and houses, then sat down outside a bakery and ate half the contents of the shop (plus my first of many Redds of the day) and did some Spanish homework.
Feeling sick from all the sugar I went for a walk along the seafront where I came across one of those awful party boats blasting music with a man on a megaphone trying to entice people in. Next thing I know I’m 10mil pesos poorer and sitting on the top deck next to the speakers clutching my second Redds. There was a group of students next to me who saw I was alone and invited me to sit with them, only to regret it the instant they discovered I couldn’t speak Spanish. But, a few more Redds, plus several shots of rum and aguadiente from the table next to us and I was chatting in Spanish like it was my first language. After the boat trip it started raining so we legged it [read: walked really slowly, Colombia style] to the nearest bar and got, well it’s getting predictable now, more Redds. I then had a bus to catch at 6pm, managed to miss it, and after running round the square several times in the rain found another that left in half an hour. Half an hour to prepare myself mentally for a two-hour bus ride, blotto.
I actually slept [read: passed out] for most of the journey, waking periodically and trying not to puke. When I got back to the house dinner was waiting for me, but I just couldn’t wait to get to bed. Then, just as I was finishing dinner a lady came by the house – to pick me up for a night of drinking. Oh Dios mio. I was dragged to a small bar/shop where Jessica, Juan (her husband) and Marta were waiting for me with my shot glass ready. Urgh. Force fed aguadiente (tastes like a mix of sambuca and vodka and is drunk by the gallon here) and more Redds (I think…) I sat around chatting to all the people who stopped by. It was funny when a girl came by who also had someone staying at her house to learn Spanish – an Aussie guy – because the whole time she was ripping into him about how he pronounced things wrongly. They all proceeded to do impressions of him, then told me to repeat what they said to check my pronunciation – thankfully I have perfect Spanish and gave them nothing to work with. Of course. Anyway, they told me I couldn’t meet this Aussie because I’m not allowed to speak English while I’m here… Anyway, I managed to escape and get to bed at a reasonable hour with Jessica and Juan (who drove, drunk, the one block to the house), leaving Marta (my homestay mum) to sink the last of her 2.5 bottles of aguadiente.
The next morning, I was told we were going for a walk – me, Arianna and Samuel. It turned out ‘going for a walk’ meant going to the next block and getting blotto with the entire family while watching a middle-aged man in a badly fitting suit sing outside a shop for its 10th anniversary. Six Redds later (do you know I love that beer?) and we moved on, back to the street bar we were at the previous night (which turned out to be someone’s house with a table outside, and when I went in to use the loo the toilet was literally in the kitchen. But when you gotta go…). Marta sank another couple of bottles, I played some fairground game and danced salsa with one of the cousins in someone’s garage much to the enjoyment of the crowd that gathered, then we headed to Jessica and Juan’s house (next to ours) for some more aguadiente (water for me – and I don’t mean that I drink so much it’s like water, let’s get that out of the way now…), then made the long journey next door for bed.
This morning when I got up Arianna told me we were going for a walk after lunch. I told my liver to hold on tight and off we went. Turns out that today ‘going for a walk’ meant ‘taking all the neighbourhood kids to the library and sitting in the lobby for an hour waiting for the rain to stop’. One thing about Colombian women is that they really care about their appearance. Getting their hair wet in the rain is simply not an option. Eventually, we ran [again, read: walked really slowly] to the road to get a taxi, one of the mums with a black bin bag over her hair…
Tomorrow promises to be exactly 100% less exciting, when I need to go get my visa renewed. Don’t miss the thrilling next edition of the blog in which I tell the story of queuing for hours in a government building…