Saturday, 21 November 2015

The Trials of a Twenty-Something

I decided to write this as I am currently sitting on a train halfway up the British Isles, heading a place I've never been before to start a new job there. Or rather, I decided to write this when I decided that sitting on a train to a place I've never been before to start a new job there was a good idea. And I decided that because I am 23, living at home (or was), returned from a year abroad and not really knowing what to do with my life. And so it begins.

Not quite the right country. Still, it seems apt.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

How to speak Colombian Costeño (Coastal) Slang!


When I arrived in Barranquilla with what a fairly decent grasp on the Spanish language - a degree in Modern Languages does normally help a bit - I was expecting to be generally OK. I might have to learn a bit of the local lingo, perhaps. and get used to the accent, but these things are easily overcome. Also, in Colombia they speak the clearest Spanish in the world, right? Not quite. This may be apparently true of Bogota, but on the coast - as I was soon to discover - there is a strong local dialect, a very heavy accent and a heck of a lot of words that they don't even use in other parts of the country, let alone on the other side of the world! Since the moment I realised this, I have been compiling a list of my favourite terms: some because they are in common use, some are helpful to know, and some because they are just quite funny. I don't claim to have a list of every word, or the proper definition, I've just done the best I can with the 10 months experience I had and asking a few friends. Please add any suggestions for extra words/changes in the comments below :)

Thursday, 20 August 2015

My Year in Colombia in 100 Photos

I have discovered it's really helpful for me (and quite fun too) to go through my photos in any particular year and choose a sort of 'best of' - the photos that, for me, capture the moments, places and people that made that experience what it was. My time in Colombia has been truly unforgettable, so I wanted to commemorate it with this collection - obviously, not absolutely everything is on there, but I've tried to show the essence of life on the Colombo-Caribbean coast, and also the great variety of cultures and climates that this great country has to offer. As the motto of Colombia Tourism goes, 'el riesgo es que te quieras quedar' - the risk is that you'll want to stay.

1. Arrival at Bogotá - grey skies welcome me to the Colombian capital.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Snapshots of Barranquilla: Public Transport

The Puerto Colombia bus makes its way into town Photo: Xevi Zafra Torres
When I first arrived in Barranquilla, the public transport system was a mystery to me. Seemingly hundreds of huge, multicoloured buses whizzing around, suddenly jerking to a halt to eject some poor passenger from their nether regions and racing off again at breakneck speed, with a cough and splutter to boot. The inexplicability of it all was heightened by the fact that there seemed to be no stop signs, and therefore absolutely no indication of where the bus was going, or at what time it would arrive there. Now I've been initiated into the ways of Barranquilla buses, I thought it only fair to share this knowledge, partly for educational purposes, but partly for your own amusement (I do hope). Also, I'm pretty proud to have got this far without getting lost. Too many times.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Barranquilla: A Local's Guide

This is a guest blog, written by one of my Colombian students. I was so impressed by her homework, I decided it deserved a spot on the page. This way, you can hear about Barranquilla from a native. It was also Barranquilla's 202nd birthday on Tuesday, so here's to the sandy city!

View from the north of the city at dawn

Monday, 22 December 2014

El Centro: The Heart of Barranquilla

The centre of Barranquilla is, in my opinion, one of the most interesting places in the city. It is full of life, from the busy market to the coffee street sellers, to the men in shop doors, singing and dancing all day in order to encourage people inside. There is also a great amount of fantastic architecture, although, sadly, a lot of the buildings are very run-down. In fact, the poverty in this area is very clear - many homeless people are to be seen, lying sleeping in doorways and street corners all around the centre. In short, it sums up - for me - Colombia itself: a country with a wonderful cultural history and much to offer, but still many problems to be addressed.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Wolf-whistles, cat-calls and the lost art of conversation

The time has long come for me to write something about Colombia's cultural attitudes. This week, I'd like to touch on a subject that affects my life on a daily basis here, and yet to many seems widely insignificant - street harassment.