Friday, January 30, 2009

It's Raining Monkeys

Yesterday around 4:30 in the afternoon it started to rain big fat enormous raindrops and didn't stop for about 12 hours. This is unusual for a couple reasons. The first being that it should not be the rainy season anymore and second because when it does rain here, it is never for that amount of time. Other places in Colombia, sure, but not in Cali.

The streets were flooded past the curbs in some places and looked more like rivers. Within seconds of stepping off the bus I was soaked to the core and still had two more blocks to go to reach my apartment. Crazy lightning and thunder flashed and sounded in every direction around me - the kind that stays from sky to ground in a white streak for 3-4 seconds and rumbles so loud it sets off car alarms, respectively. (I imagine dogs and cats and small children across the city hiding under beds.)

Needless to say, the power went out by 5 and didn't come back on until after midnight. I read by candle-light for a few hours and then basically went to bed at around 8:30. (It gets dark here about 6:15ish all year round.)

Incidentally, I learned a new word recently that came into play during the monsooning storm. The word "mono" means "monkey" in any Spanish dictionary, but here in Cali (and maybe other parts of Colombia) it means the same as rubio(a) or "blonde," as well as the simian noun. So there I am, standing in the rain, waiting to cross the street and this guy on a motorcycle rips by and screams "monooooooo!!!!"

Yes, I have light-colored hair. Thank you. (The thing is, anyone who does not have jet-black hair is a prime candidate to be a mono(a) so it doesn't take much.) I'm positive that this is just another Baader-Meinhof; I know I've been identified as a "monkey" before, I just didn't know it. And now I will.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Sound of a Train

Now that second semester has begun, I think back to two years ago as I was preparing to head to the UNI recruiting fair in Waterloo, Iowa. At the same time, I imagine, the teacher in my current position was agonizing about whether he had spent enough time in this amazing country. (Clearly, for whatever reason, he decided to leave.) I now face a similar decision.

It is strange to me that it was as difficult as it was to make. (Quit trying to skim ahead; I'm attempting to add a little suspense. Humor me.) As I have already said, the country is diverse in both people and geography, cultures and cuisines, architecture and possibilities. For these reasons and more Colombia has captivated me. I enjoy the people I work with and the school's campus is beautiful. This year's group of ninth graders are amazing and I literally have not had a day where I did not look forward to seeing them; they are wonderful kids. But in general, most of the people I have met here have been very warm and friendly. I feel at home here.

I heard a song by a singer/songwriter that a friend recommended to me. The song includes the lyrics:

It's never quite simple, it's never that safe
It never seems perfect until it's too late
It's never the right time to find a new way

There's an answer in the sound of a train
There is wisdom past the bridge on the bay
There's a lifetime through the fog, in the rain
There's a beauty in walking away.

(Marié Digby)

Despite the wonderful experience I have had and continue to have on a daily basis, there have been some policy changes that I do not agree with, on a professional level, at my school. (Being a professional, I am not going to discuss them here, however, if you would like me to bore you with the details, I'd be happy to enlighten and discuss them with you in a more private forum.)

I struggled with the decision of leaving based mostly around such a reason and had a hard time justifying parting on these grounds. But I came to realize that I needed to stick with what I felt was right for me. I wasn't going to be here for the long-haul anyways, so why push through something unpleasant when I didn't have to. I do believe that, at times, "there's a beauty in walking away."

So, now I throw myself, haphazardly yet purposefully, into the ever widening sea of unemployment. I will teach internationally again one day, but I feel now is the time for me to start working toward a Master's degree. As far as future plans, that's about it. I have five more months of exploring and experiencing more of Colombia and I expect to take advantage of them. Beyond that...well, that's a whole other adventure!

Thanks to everyone who has written to me inquiring about my future plans, who listened to my concerns and offered advice, and those who tried to be objective in giving advice. Special thanks to A.M.H.T. for an amazing, as always, conversation - my thoughts may not have been rationalized the way they were without our chat! Thanks!