I love arepas. Just had to put that one out there. Check out my breakfast this morning prepared by my new host, an amazing woman named Maria Inez. Scrambled eggs, two arepas (I saved the 2nd one for later and am munching on it as I type this), fresh squeezed orange juice, hot chocolate and “tinto” which I learned is basically a small cup of coffee with sugar, just the way I like it. I will not be going hungry in this town.
I moved in last night with Maria Inez, her two lovely daughters, Andrea (33) and Daniella (17) and her grandson Santiago (20) whom I have yet to meet. I feel so blessed to have yet another welcoming place to stay, complete with my own room, homecooked meals, and wireless internet! Never thought I'd have these accommodations while traveling but hey, I'll take it =).
Today Maria Inez and I got up early and took public transit out to an underserved area of Bogotá known as Soacha. This trip involved a 15 minute walk, a 45 minute ride on the Transmilenio bus which crosses town in a lane apart from the crazy traffic of the city, and a 30 minute bumpy ride on a “buseta,” a large van/small bus which took us on the semi-paved roads up the mountainside where Soacha is located. Despite this area being known as a “slum” of Bogotá, I found it to be a picturesque village of colorful houses scattered up the mountainside. The locals laughed at me as I snapped pictures and expressed how beautiful I found their home to be.
As Maria Inez and I arrived at the church/community service agency called Los Pinos where she works 6 days out of the week, we were greeted by Sandra Luna who would be walking me to CCN El Progreso, another church/school organization where I would be volunteering today (I am returning to Los Pinos on Thursday). Walking to CCN involved a 20-30 minute walk down one mountainside and up another which of course put my altitude impaired lungs to the test. I guess people here just get used to this.
I spent the day leading two sets of discussions to parents in the community regarding how to approach difficult topics with their children such as sexuality, dating, alcohol, drugs, etc. In the morning, the group was only 3 women which made for an easier discussion with lots of participation. We then breaked for lunch- lentils, rice, jugo de lulo (some kind of delicious Colombian fruit), and a random meat that tasted sort of like manure infused meatballs (I managed to get down half a serving). In the afternoon, the group consisted of 30 men, women and children- a bit more challenging. I think the talk went over well though. By then end, people were sharing personal stories and challenges and excited about my return next Monday.
After reversing my transit back to Bogotá with Maria Inez, I spent the evening hanging out with her daughters while Maria Inez went to a church meeting. Found a local restaurant that serves delicious (and apparently very well washed) salads for dinner- that hit the spot after the mystery meat earlier that day. Daniella is teaching me some new Colombian lingo. Slang words of the day: