Friday, August 3, 2007

King Me Now

Buenos dias!

This last week has been a crazy mess of getting our governmental IDs (I don´t have mine yet but the process is ongoing), apartment hunting, and blood tests (for who knows why but they took a lot). Oh, and lots of shopping. The school gives us ~$600 for moving in allowance which equals about a million some pesos so I felt pretty loaded. It is a pretty comical site seeing thirteen people crammed into a bus with bags and bags of goods each filling up the rest of the seats and floors. Who ever said this is a third world country hasn´t been to the cities in a while. Name something, you can probably find it. (There was a guy selling the Simpsons movie on the street...I bet the quality was great.)

The current infrastructure of Cali is a little lacking right now. They are attempting to build a mass transit system here right now. All at once. There were no highways, and now they are trying to build some criss-crossing the city but it is a up the entire place, basically. Because of this traffic sucks and the school didn´t want the teachers to live of the other side of town from the school so they limited where we could live, and in some cases pre-rented apartments for people.

There are three sets of couples with us and their apartments were already taken care of. There was one other single guy who had a horrible experience the last few years with roommates and had mentioned to the school the he wanted to live alone and they already had set that up. (He kind of wanted to back out and have a roommate when we got here and was asking me about it but the school couldn´t get out of the contract.) Three girls had mentioned in Miami that they would like to live together so the administer of the school got on the phone and by the time we got here they had an apartment. Another girl had already made arrangements to live with another teacher who started last year.

If you´re keeping count that leaves two. Myself and this girl from California. Here name is Ananda and she has spent the last three years teaching in south-central LA and needed a "change". Really nice girl. Well, the school recommended that if we didn´t mind, we sould find a two bedroom apartment together. Neither of us had a problem so we started hunting with the human services assistant, Aña Luica (which I think means drop dead gorgeous in Spanish). After looking at around 11 apartments we settled on this AMAZING place. Did I say place? I meant palace.

Let´s take a tour. First off, it is on the fourth and fifth floors of the building. It has marble/stone floors, two huge balconies (one on each floor) that face the mountians, and an ENOURMOUS living room. Our furniture looks ridiculous in it, its so big! There are three bedrooms and one giant study but it could easily be another bedroom since it is roughly the same size. There are three full bathrooms, one off the master. (PS: I got the master.) And, of course a kitchen and maids quarters, which has another bathroom also. The best part is that for each of us, the rent is only ~$250/ dollars. (Its a little under a million in pesos.) The barrio, or neighborhood, I´m in is called El Ingenio and has been nicknamed the "gringo ghetto". Another new teacher, the one who wanted to live alone, lives kitty-corner and we can yell across the street from our balconies instead of calling, which we did before we had phones. The man in charge of orientation for all the import teacher also lives a block away.

So, other than shopping and occational conferences where we learn about anything from the school´s mission statement to safety precautions, to what fruits make the best jusices (seriously) that is about all we´ve been doing. Last night another teacher who has been here three years took us to another barrio and we had dinner there. If the Colombians find a way to make something with plantains (type of banana), they will. I had no idea waht I ordered exactly but what came out was basically a giant banana chip with cheese and wine sauteed mushrooms on the top. Amazing. Tonight some of us are going out for dinner and dancing in the salsa distict. Good times...we´ll see if I can make it to the traditional 6am closing time.