Thursday, June 19, 2014

World Cup Madness!

Well my Lord! it has been quite a while since I have updated my blog! So what has been going on in my life you may ask? Well let me tell you. The last time I blogged I believe I told yall about my parents coming in July. That is still going to happen and I am really excited about that! But, in addition to that, my cousin is coming to stay with me for a week (she arrives tomorrow!) I am super excited to see her because it has been quite some time since I have got to see her face to face. She is here volunteering in Colombia for a few months and I am looking forward to hearing all her stories and sharing mine!

Not only is Mattie coming here (and letting me play tour guide) but also a girl I went to High School with (Jessica) she will be here in a week! I am really excited about her visit because it has been in the works for a long time...It will be her first time to Colombia so I am looking forward to sharing my adopted homeland with her.  So between Mattie,Jessica and my parents I will be a busy man! Also, I just found out that in September a good friend of mine I met in New Zealand, she will be coming down as well! It has only taken almost 2.5 years but everyone is coming all at once now haha! I have so much planned for everyone and I am just hoping I can fit all my plans in and also actually get some work done at the same time!

Well other than all that, I am still teaching my Internet classes (but now my "real" job at the university is on break until July 28th) once everyone gets here I am going to drop all my work (apart from the internet classes) until July 28th though. So I will have a little vacation and lots and lots of family/friend time! It is going to be great! The apartment is still loud with those bars so close but I am just used to the noise by now (and I sleep in earplugs) so really all that is pretty normal.

Here is what is not normal. COLOMBIA IS IN THE WORLD CUP! I will make an honest confession and let you know that for the vast majority of my life I have had zero interest in soccer (even when I played it as a kid haha) but, being here in this country that is SO insanely passionate about soccer or football or whatever you want to call it, it really is quite amazing! Imagine that your city of choice has just won the world/national championships in your sport of choice. Imagine the atmosphere the night of the big win. You know that feeling in America that last maybe 24 hours if you are lucky. Well it is that feeling EVERYDAY here. Now that Colombia has won both of their games so far (3 to 0 against Greece and 2 to 1 against Ivory Coast) the air is thick with more than just pollution! It truly is an amazing place to be during World Cup time. Especially because relatively speaking we are so close to Brazil (where the World Cup is being held) and Colombia was just ranked the most passionate soccer fans on the planet (The USA was last on that list haha)

As I said, I am still not a huge fan of soccer/football but just being here at this time in this atmosphere you just cant help but to get caught up in it and it truly is a great thing to see everyone so happy here, after so many years of the bad stuff from the past. But, Colombia still does have its problems with sport violence. I cannot wrap my head around this, but after the first game against Greece, 10 people around the city were murdered, over 150 people hospitalized and there was over 3000 reported fights along with 250+ traffic accidents and COLOMBIA WON! That is the crazy part! People are regularly killed here for supporting the "wrong" local team (but everyone is united as one for The Colombian National Team!)

Well they threatened to cancel the local championship games a while back (nothing to do with The World Cup) if people kept killing each other. Now with the most recent game against The Ivory Coast (An African country) Colombia won that game and everyone was happy of course! But, the city of Bogota decided to evoke "Ley Seca" (Dry Laws) so no one could drink any alcohol at any bars or clubs in the city. Well I will find out tomorrow if this actually decreased the amount of people killing each other over sport. I sure hope so! For those of you who might think Colombia is full of sport crazed maniacs and I am in constant danger, don't worry! I am not near passionate enough about soccer to get myself in any trouble where I could get hurt. I only support The Colombian National Team anyway. Everyone loves them!

Colombia has 45 million people so there is bound to murders just like anywhere but, Colombia is MUCH safer than before. I would be more afraid to be alone in parts of Dallas then I would be in parts of Bogota. The thing I just can't understand though is why people kill each other over sports. Sure it happens in The States but nowhere near as much as it does here. One death is one to many and there is usually more than one person killed here after a local or national soccer match. Anyway, don't worry I will be fine and it truly is an amazing time to be in this country during The World Cup! I wish Americans could get this passionate about anything! Well ladies and gents, that is the end of my rant.

Yall take care,Ty


Monday, April 21, 2014

Nothing and more Nothing.....

So I don't believe I have blogged at all since our move in day. That has been a while! Well what has been going on? not much really! Our new apartment is really nice on the inside and the only downside is the outside..... unfortunately we are across the street from two bars (wish I would have known that before signing a year contract!) and they are very loud! But, other than that everything is fine and dandy.

I really have slacked off on the blog I know.... But there is just nothing to tell you. I don't write if nothing new happens and lately nothing has really happened. I am no longer "traveling" I am living life and being boring. I am still here doing the same things you are doing, just in a different country and in a different language. I do get restless and think about moving on but really I am not completely unhappy. I do have a specific goal in mind and I really want to accomplish it. In order to accomplish my goal I need to be disciplined enough to get there. That involves being a boring " real adult" for a while so that is what I am doing, as much as I can't stand it!

We just came off our Easter holidays here, which is basically over a week in Colombia where everything shuts down and no one goes to work or does anything haha. As for me, I was sick for almost all of it which really sucked because I didn't get to travel or anything :( But, I did have my internet teaching job going on so I was at least making a little money as opposed to doing completely nothing. I also got to finish almost all of Breaking Bad! I have like 3 episodes left! things are starting to get crazy on that show.... NO SPOILERS!

Also, MY PARENTS ARE COMING IN JULY! I am really excited to get them down here finally! In addition, my little cousin will be living here in Colombia for three months volunteering and I am excited for her! (separate trip from the parents) Well now that I am finally feeling better and back to the grind of work work work I doubt anything else exciting will happen for a while but, if it does I will be sure to keep yall updated.

Yall take care,Ty

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Moving Day

Well Mark and I have officially moved now! We are still in Bogota but transport wise we are about 30 minutes closer to our respective workplaces. Our apartment is brand new and we are the first ones to move in. It is pretty nice but not perfect. There is a few things that need to be fixed but nothing really major.  The biggest problem so far is that we are quite close to a club/bar and it is VERY loud all hours of the night :( But, so far we have only been here during the weekend I am really hoping that during the week the noise won't be so bad. It is really a shame because we didn't know about the noise level before we moved in.

This apartment was so hard to get going thru hoop after hoop and mortgaging pretty much everything we have to get this place. Even Colombians have huge problems getting apartments because there is so much red tape. Here in Colombia the people and/or companies who have apartments and want to rent require you to give them so much "security" up front that is a big deal to even get in an apartment. So once you are actually in it is just such a relief. I really don't think I will be moving again if I can help it.

Due to the fact that we had to pay 3 months rent up front and my boss had to co sign for us AND we had to pay 10% of the value of the contract included with our first month's  rent payment this has been an expensive deal. But now that we are in just because Colombia doesn't have any zoning laws and they can put a loud bar very close to a residential apartment, unfortunately we are just stuck with it. I guess over time I will learn how to sleep with all this noise.

Anyway, you take the good with the bad and we are here and it is a cheaper more central location with more people around and more economical things to see and do. So now that I am basically organized in my room we just have to organize the house. Luckily when we moved in the movers that we got were not SUPER expensive. well that's all I have for you for now.

Yall take care til next time,Tyler

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Feb 2014 News

Well hello there friends :) I just wanted to give yall a little update on my life. There is a time here in Colombia from around November to January where most people here don't work much (if at all) due to Christmas holidays. Due to this fact, I don't get much work teaching in this time obviously so I have to really save my money during the year so that I can survive this two month time not working much. Up until now I have been working "average" teaching hours and making "average" money. The good news is that here recently I have gotten a lot more hours! (Obviously a lot more money as well!) so this is good news for me! Now I don't have to worry so much about money. I am teaching English for my boss still, teaching English via the internet and I am teaching my own personal classes and also a Saturday morning class at a local university here. So obviously that is a lot of  hours but good for me!

In addition Mark and I (My Canadian roommate Mark) we are moving to another apartment in Bogota in another part of the city. So I am excited for our new apartment starting March 1st. We will save a little bit of money on rent and transport costs and get a chance of scenery. So basically I am just here living life as usual. My life is neither SUPER exciting nor super boring. I am just happy and healthy and a lucky guy. You know in my teens I was worried that I would die having had a boring life with no stories to tell. Nothing to REALLY live for. I am so lucky and thankful I can now say with certainty that is not the case.

Also my friend Adrian (who is Irish) he lives in a Colombian city called Bucamanga (Which happens to be one of my favorite cities) he came here to Bogota for a day so it was really nice hanging out with him even if it was just for a bit.

P.S. After 5 years of writing this blog (Some months more posts than other obviously) I have now reached 40,000+ views! Thank you all my readers!!

Yall take care,Tyler 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

2014 Update

Well hello dear readers, I want to give you my first real update for 2014. So I told you back in 2013 that it was my plan to move to Medellin and start my Spanish classes soon. So my plan has changed now. I won't be moving to Medellin due to not being able to get an apartment in Medellin and not being able to renew my visa if I leave Bogota. So I am staying in Bogota still working at the same job but in addition I am now teaching English via the Internet and it is going well so far. I am also looking into moving to a new apartment (still here in Bogota) and while I do hate the weather and the traffic here in Bogota now that I am here for another year I am really going to try and make the best of it. Live could be better but it could be much much worse. Spanish classes are still on the plan. That hasn't changed. I just need the time and the money and this year in 2014 I WILL make it happen!

I am now 29 years old (inching closer and closer to 30!) and my old roommate Mark (The Canadian) has moved back in with me and the girls are gone. I had a great Christmas Eve in Texas and my Christmas Day on the plane back to Bogota then I had my birthday,New Years Eve and New years here in Bogota. So I guess to wrap this all up 2014 so far has been pretty nice and I hope it stays that way. This weekend I will be leaving Bogota to go to my bosses farm in a city about two hours away from Bogota for a relaxing weekend there then back to the grind on Monday.

P.S. I know this was short and sweet but really nothing super amazing has happened yet in 2014 so I didn't have much to write. My life just isn't as exciting as it was when I was traveling but I guess you can't have all the excitement all the time and I am still pretty happy.

Yall take care,Tyler

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Welcome to 2014!

Well hello there dear readers. Welcome to 2014! Now Christmas Eve,Christmas,My Birthday,New Years Eve and New Years have passed. So I can officially welcome yall to 2014. I hope that is going to be a great year for all of yall and a great year for me. You know I was just thinking, even though my blogging has become less frequent and more boring as of late, I have been writing this blog since 2009. That is a long time! What great memories I have had so far and I hope I will continue to have. I have been very lucky and very blessed with great family and friends and support from all around the world. I have gotten to see and do so many amazing things all before the age of 30. My lifestyle is not for everyone but I love what I do.

I have some big plans ahead for me in 2014 including a potential move to a new city (still in Colombia) and I have just finished training for a new English teaching job. My big goal for 2014 is to FINALLY start real Spanish classes so that I can really improve my Spanish skills all over instead just speaking the street Spanish as I do. I am looking forward to the new changes in my life. Mark my old roommate from Bogota is coming back after some extended travels so it will be good to be living with him again for a while before I potentially make my big move to my new city in Colombia around March/April time.

All the best to you and yours. Ty

I know this blog was short and sweet but I hope you liked it anyway.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Texas,Christmas Eve,Christmas,Boxing Day,My Birthday and New Years Eve

Well I am now back safely in Bogota after my three week visit to Texas. I had a great time seeing my family and friends over the Christmas holidays. This marks two times in one year that I have been back home for a visit. It is much easier to get home from South America than it is from Asia or Australia/NZ. Unfortunately I had to fly out at 6am on Christmas morning but I couldn't pass up the good deal that I got on my airfare. I did have a great Christmas Eve with all my family though. Got to spend some quality time with all of them which was nice.

Unfortunately Colombians celebrate Christmas at midnight on the 24th so I also missed Colombian Christmas but I still had a good time. I will be here in Colombia for New Years Eve which is always a good time. Three weeks was plenty of time to visit most of my friends and I got to a concert with my dad and another concert with my friends. My dad just recently had back surgery so he now on the mend but its looking like he will pull thru just fine. My visit home was uneventful other than getting to see everyone and eat all the food that I wanted to eat. There was a big ice storm in our area of Texas though. That was unusual for sure and I was stuck inside for a good week or so but I got to spend more time with my family so that was nice.

My flight(s) home to Texas and back to Bogota were also uneventful other than screaming children and such. But, on the way back to Bogota I got upgraded to what used to be free but now costs money exit row and I sat next to a really cool guy who was from close to my hometown back in Texas. So now 2013 chugs along and we approach my (gasp!) 29th birthday! and also New Years. Should be a good time had by all I hope. Most of my friends here in Bogota are outside of the city at the moment on vacations and such but hopefully they will be back for my birthday. All of my roommates have now moved out and I am looking for new ones. It is an odd feeling being all alone in this house. There is also a decent possibility that I will be moving from Bogota in March/April to a new city in Colombia called Medellin Colombia I am pretty ready for a change in scenery and weather!

Well that is all I have for yall for now. Merry Christmas,Happy Hanukkah,Happy Kwanza or whatever else it is you may celebrate. Happy Boxing Day (for those in the British Commonwealth) and Happy almost New Years Eve/Day.- Tyler

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Extraordinary

ex·traor·di·nar·y
ikˈstrôrdnˌerē,ˌekstrəˈôrdn-/
adjective
adjective: extraordinary; adjective: extra-ordinary
1.
very unusual or remarkable.
"the extraordinary plumage of the male". Synonyms: remarkable, exceptional, amazing, astonishing, astounding, sensational, stunning, incredible, unbelievable, phenomenal;
out of the ordinary, unusual, uncommon, rare, surprising;
literarywondrous
"an extraordinary coincidence"
 
I think about this all the time. I have wanted to do something extraordinary my whole life. I have wanted to live an extraordinary life for as long as I can remember. I have wanted to make a difference and be remembered. Now that I am almost 30 years old and after almost five years of constant travel I have a little better perspective on this. Have I lived an extraordinary life? I guess that depends on your definition of extraordinary. That will be different for everyone. Before the age of 30 I have seen more of this world then most people will see in a lifetime. I have been to places and done things that many people only dream about. I have had the honor and privilege and knowing what it is like to experience poverty and Western World Standards. I have literally lived the rags to riches scenario. 
 
I no longer take things for granted because I know that most things that many people have that are "common" are luxuries in many places around the world. I have been blessed over and over to meet so many amazing people from around the world that I cannot even keep track of them all. They are of all ages,shapes,sizes,cultures,backgrounds and languages. I have kept some as friends for a day, some for a week,some for a year and some for a lifetime. Everyone I have met in my travels has had something to offer me, whether it be good or bad it has helped shape me into who I am today. I have only been able to do what I do with the love and support of my family and friends back home in Texas. I would not be who am I today without my loving parents and family and friends.

But the question still remains in my mind. I have done many great things that make me a happy and fulfilled person but what have I really done with my life? What have I done to leave a legacy? Who have I truly helped? What will be left behind when I am gone? Do I have a few regrets in life? Sure. Everyone does. Do I have a ton of regrets? No. I have been very lucky and blessed to do what I do. My life is not perfect but it certainly isn't horrible. I guess it will just take more time to figure out what my actual legacy is. But I hope it is a good one. I try and do the right thing and be a decent person. I want to be remembered for more than just "passing through" this life. 

Tyler

Friday, November 29, 2013

Ohh Controversy!

This post is going to be controversial. If you are not ok with that please stop reading now. That being said, I am about to speak my mind like it or not. Here goes....

In 2009, breast cancer research received $872 million worth of federal funding, while prostate cancer received $390 million. It is estimated that fiscal year 2010 will end similarly, with breast cancer research getting $891 million and prostate cancer research receiving $399 million. October is breast cancer month in the USA (and I believe world wide) Pink ribbons everywhere,donation boxes, fun runs,businesses donating money. Awareness is everywhere. You know what that is great! I am not some woman hating breast cancer loving monster. But what frustrates me is, there is no equality! How many of you knew that According to estimates from the National Institutes of Health, in the United States in 2010, 207,090 women and 1,970 men will get new cases of breast cancer, while 39,840 women and 390 men will likely die from the disease. The estimated new cases of prostate cancer this year — all affecting men — is 217,730, while it is predicted 32,050 will die from the disease. How many of you knew that September is Prostate Cancer Month and their slogan color is blue? Look at the numbers. A very similar number of women get diagnosed with breast cancer as do men with prostate cancer.

Movember (a global movement started in 2003 to raise money for prostate cancer and other male related cancers)has raised the awareness of cancers affecting men. Also the now disgraced Lance Armstrong still has a few worthy foundation, Live Strong. These are a good start but only within the past few years have men's health issues even been talked about. Do you know why? Politicians. Politicians realize that women are a big majority of their voters and if they want to win votes then they have to overly finance breast cancer research while leaving men's health issues in the dust. I participate in Movember every year so that I can have an excuse to grow a mustache and raise awareness at the same time. It is a great conversation starter.

I realize that in many parts of the world even in 2013 women are marginalized. They get beat,raped,persecuted,forbidden to go to school or drive. The list goes on. But in the developed world women are NOT marginalized they have the exact same rights that I do. Here in Bogota the other day I was on the bus and I saw a bus wrap poster on the inside of the bus teaching women how to do a breast self exam. It was paid for and sponsored by Glaxo Smith Kline (a huge pharmaceutical company). That is great that they want to teach more women how to check themselves for breast cancer but do you know why they did it? Profit. The old saying is "You have to spend money to make money" they spent money on this campaign so that everyone would think they are such a loving and caring company and request their flavor of medicine.

Where is the bus wraps telling men to go get checked for prostate or testicular cancer? Where are our fun runs? donation boxes? Companies donating money? You don't see these things because now it is male health issues that are marginalized. In many ways men are still "top of the ladder" but in health issues we are at the bottom. It shouldn't be like this. We men deserve and have the right to at least equal and fair representation for health issues and we are not getting it. It makes me very sad.

Agree or disagree with me I want to hear your thoughts. Click Here to see where I got my facts and figures from. -Tyler

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Exciting stuff

Well I do actually have some exciting news to tell you. In addition to my teaching (I just recently got offered online teaching work which is great!) as an add on to my in person teaching. I have also been doing some acting! Just as an extra but still I get to be a famous gringo haha. I have been filming two telenovela's, one set in the 70's in NYC and the other is mob like drama. It is easy work and I don't even have to say anything! We get fed and I get to meet a lot of new people. But, the days are long. The least amount of hours I have worked is 10 and the most is 15. There is no overtime pay :( But mostly it is a lot of standing around doing nothing. Then when we actually get to do something it is wild and crazy activity. Usually many takes of the same scene over and over (I have done 20+ before) and then back to doing nothing again. As extras without speaking parts we are like the bottom of the food chain and no one really cares about us but we do get paid for very little actual work. As soon as I know when the actual episodes are going to air I will let yall know.

Also very soon I will be back in Texas for a visit! I am excited to see my friends and family again. It will be nice to be home for the holidays for the first time in a while. Until then I guess it is business as normal here. Well I just wanted to give yall a little update. Take care,Ty

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Wow its been a long time!

Wow it has been a long time since I have blogged for yall! it really has been a combo of not having a computer/internet access and not having much to blog about. But I am back! Well lets see.... what has happened to me in the past two months? I went rock climbing in a Colombian town called Suesca. it was my first time to do that and it was really fun! I am hoping to go again. Now that the weather is getting bad again (this time of year the weather is always bad) I wasn´t sure how I would do with the rock climbing and at first it was slow going but once I got the hang of it I really liked it.

It is now November and we just had a "puente" last weekend which in Spanish literally means "bridge" but in this context it is more like a four day weekend. Luckily we also get another one coming up this weekend! Colombia actually has the second most holiday days off out of any country in the world. Argentina is first I do believe. Last weekend I just did a lot of relaxing but this weekend for the holiday time I am going to try and actually do something fun. I am just not sure what or where yet.

Work is work. It has been going slowly since they changed our contract and gave us all less hours but I am still limping along and just waiting for December to get here because I am going back to Texas to visit my family. Starting again mid January Colombia will start to function again and hopefully work should pick up. I will be looking for more work again in January but things are ok. Could be much worse than they are now. I am happy with my apartment and I have a good job even if I am not working as much as I would like. I have a roof over my head and food in my stomach. Even at this reduced rate I actually make much more than your average Colombian does, so I consider myself lucky. Health wise I am doing fine so no big complaints here.

For Halloween I got to go to the Halloween party of the company that we are subcontracted too. We just provide them with English teaching services but they were nice enough to let us go. I had a good time and it was free food and free booze so you can´t complain about that.

I really don´t know what else to tell yall. Colombia has calmed down now and things are back to normal. Of course there is still protests and things (currently it is the healthcare workers that are protesting) but nothing near as bad as it was a few months ago when they blocked the roads and all that stuff. Honestly I am doing basically the same thing that all of yall are doing, I am just doing it in another country and in another language. I wish I had more to tell you.

I remember back when I was living in Australia and NZ and doing all my traveling I always had something amazing and exciting to tell yall. Now my life has become routine and boring but I guess it can´t always be exciting. I am thankful for what I have and I am still working on my goal of becoming a Spanish Translator. There is things that I miss about The States but I also really enjoy living here. I have written many blog posts about how Colombia is pretty messed up sometimes but, no country is perfect. I am overall pretty happy here and I invite any of yall to come down here and visit me!

Well I don´t have anything else for yall so I am gonna end this one. I know this was a boring update but that is basically all I have down for the past two months. Yall take care,Ty

Friday, September 13, 2013

Therisa

So this is the big one. It has been ten years since Therisa died. I can't believe how fast the time has gone and how old I am getting now. I remember every second of my time with her and I remember every second of the day I found out she had died. She was one of those people who would have grown up to really be someone. To really do something. I truly believe with all my heart that she had unlimited potential and sadly she was gone well before her time.

I don't know if I have ever really spoken about her but I will now. Her and I were very close all through middle school and high school. We even shared a locker together. We had  some great times and some great memories. I still miss her all the time and her death had a huge impact on my life. But, now that I have ten years of perspective on it, I realize that some good changes in my life personally happened that may not have happened had she not died. I still wish she was here with us though.

I have very few regrets in my life but I am about to tell all of you the biggest regret in my life which I share with very few people (until now that is). It was our high school prom and I had taken another friend of mine to the prom and Therisa also had another date as well ( I can't remember who) but anyway she asked me to dance with her. I would have loved to dance with her but it was a rap song playing. Those of you who know me, know I don't dance. So I told her no. She said to me "Come on Tyler just feel the beat and dance with me" I again told her no. I never got another chance to dance with her because she died.

If I could go back to any moment in time it would be that one. I would dance with her all night long. To any song. I have regretted my whole life that I turned her down and never got another chance to dance with her.

I remember the night she died, I saw her at the football game and we talked and she hugged me and then she left with some friends in her car. I remember how she smelled, how she felt. I remember every detail. The next morning on Saturday I was going to my college credit class and I stopped at the donut store for breakfast. I saw a girl I went to school with there, she told me Therisa had died the previous night. I didn't believe her, I couldn't believe her. So I continued to my college class. I arrived at sat down then someone called my phone and told me Therisa had died. It was then that it sunk in and my whole world just collapsed.

At 18 years old I had never ever been through anything so traumatic. I didn't know how to deal with my emotions. So I left  my college class and drove straight to the high school where they were having a impromptu memorial service for her. I just remember everyone crying and these few women actually screaming. (Therisa was not the only person killed that night) I remember the pain and sadness.

After that, I went with my mom to Therisa's viewing. They had her in the casket in a pink fuzzy sweater but it didn't look like her at all. I wish I hadn't have gone. I hated viewings and I still do. For her funeral they played Lee Ann Womack's "I hope you dance" after she was buried, for days I couldn't sleep.

At first I just didn't know how to process all of this. I was so deeply sad and lost. Then I was angry at God and at everyone and everything. Finally came the acceptance that she was gone and she wasn't coming back. But for years I searched for that magic bullet answer of why she had to die so young and why she was taken from this world. I talked to so many different people and no one could give me an answer that satisfied me.

Then one afternoon, I was visiting her grave site alone and I was really hurting. But I saw this man there and he was visiting the grave of his son who had died. It was just him and I in the whole cemetery. I am going to keep the details of our conversation private because they are deeply personal to me. But, he really truly helped me. I never got his name and I never saw him again but I will never forget that man or what he said to me.

Now ten years later I can look back on all this and know that her death had a purpose. It was so hard to go through that for me (and for all her family and friends) but she changed my life and really changed me. It has not all been terrible though. I still have the great memories and I will never forget her. She is dead and not coming back but one day I truly believe I will see her again. I love you Therisa.

So that is my story. Ten years from now I still won't have forgotten her. If there is someone you love then tell them if you haven't told them. If you have told them, tell them again. You never know when your time is up. -Tyler

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

My weekend away from Bogota

So this past weekend I had the chance to leave Bogota for the first time since June. I was very lucky because I got to go somewhere hot! It was not super far away but three hours is far enough away to get some decent weather :) I went out (again) to my boss's place for a relaxing weekend away with my friends from work and we did pretty much what we did last time. Drink some beer,eat some food,swim in the pool and just generally relax. It was great! One of my co-workers also brought her friends with her. They are on their honeymoon and they came to Bogota to visit her. They are from Croatia just like she is. They spoke good English and were super nice. Colombia is a unique and interesting honeymoon destination and I am glad they gave this country a chance. Justin also brought some of his friends along who will now be our new co-workers for this semester whenever we finally start working full time again.

I don't have much else to say right now so I guess one long paragraph will cover it. Yall take care til the next time,Ty

Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Protests

So Colombia has gotten rather interesting lately, to say the least. It all started when the farmers here starting protesting because the government was not giving them a fair price for their produce. It is costing them more to cultivate produce than they are receiving at the market and the government is not giving them any kind of subsidies. I can understand their frustration but, at first it wasn't anything out of the ordinary. I choose to live in third world and emerging economies so protest and civil unrest are a fact of life. People in these countries are much more vocal about problems than Americans are back home.

What made this different is that there is other groups protesting as well. Teachers,Students,Miners,Farmers,Healthcare Workers,Truckers and the list goes on. Now they have all united into one massive group and they are blocking the roads and messing with transport and generally making life difficult until the government gives in and now "regular" citizens have joined the protests. At first the government/police/military was pretty restrained but they certainly have not been giving the protesters what they wanted. Then people started dying. A few protesters and a few police. People started getting hurt and things got a little crazy.

Now the president has suspended talks with the protesters (superrrr great idea right?) and declared martial law. He has sent 50,000 military troops into Bogota and the surrounding areas and there is talk of a nightly curfew. The mayor of Bogota has also outlawed alcohol sales in certain areas of Bogota to keep the violence down. Food prices are starting to increase (due to the truckers striking and the farmers blocking the roads) and the protests are getting more frequent. But, so far neither side will give. In America when people protest generally it goes on for a day or two and then nothing. People generally are not truly motivated to protest. Here this could go on for months. People are very strong willed here because they have to be. The government generally does not budge here until things get really bad.

Don't worry about me, I am safe and not locked up in my apartment just yet.  I plan to keep myself in one piece and try real hard not to get tear gassed or beat up. I will keep yall updated. If you want to read more about the situation here right now, Translate this article into English or your language.

Take care and remember as messed up as you think America might be right now and if you blame Obama (or whoever else) just remember that your country is not being held hostage and under martial law, with the military taking control and able to arrest whoever they want for whatever reason. Be thankful for what you have. Americans in general (not all Americans) take their freedoms for granted and do not care to protest or be motivated to change anything BECAUSE nothing is REALLY bad back home. But that is not the case in all countries. For the most part all these people are protesting because they feel they have no choice and have to force the government's hand. They are not doing it to be purely malicious and they just want to be able to have the basic rights and make a decent living.

Tyler

Thursday, August 22, 2013

D-Wayne and I

I know I have really slowed down on this blog and don't write so much anymore but when I have the motivation and something interesting to write I make sure to put it here. Well a few interesting things have happened recently so here goes.  Roughly three years ago I was living in Auckland New Zealand and I met Dwayne (via Couch Surfing). Here in Colombia organized events from Couch Surfing are not that popular but in New Zealand that was exactly the opposite. We had a weekly meeting in Auckland and usually monthly outing somewhere. It was at one of these events that I met Dwayne. So I was pretty excited when I found out he was coming here to Colombia. I managed to convince him to come visit me in Bogota so it was really great to see him again. He was here for 4 days staying in my apartment and luckily the girls were cool with it all. Did I mention that Mark has moved out and I now live with a Swedish girl and a Colombian girl. I am surrounded by estrogen all the time but all of us get along really well.

It was nice when Dwayne was here because I got to be a tourist again for the first time in a long while and I even got to do some things I have never done before. I took him to Monserrate (the view point above the city) and to particularly touristy places but he seemed to have fun and I did as well. We did visit a few places I had never been before. Luckily the weather held out for us, (For the most part) I enjoyed playing tour guide in my adopted city. Dwayne was the perfect house guest and I am really glad I got to see him after three long years.

The highlight of his visit here was when we made New Zealand meat pies. For those of you who don't know what they are, you should Click Here it had been so long since I had a proper meat pie, I was super super excited! Because they just don't exist here in South America. I fell in love with them when I lived in Oz and NZ and you can't even really find them properly in The States. We found a decent recipe and then went on a quest for the freshest ingredients. Luckily I live very close to a farmers market type place where you can get everything cheap and fresh. The only thing we couldn't find was pre-made pie crust so we had to make our own. We calculated the whole process from start to in our bellies would take two hours. Because you had to prepare the meat and veg and then let it simmer. It actually took us 4.5 hours haha.

We prepared everything according to the recipe we found online and it all worked out great except the crust. It was ok but not perfect. I wish we could have made it better. After 4.5 hours of slaving away we had three meat pies with excellent filling in a mediocre crust. It still tasted almost like Heaven to Dwayne and I after being deprived for so long.  Even Andrea (My Colombian roommate) liked it! Cornelia is a vegetarian so she missed out big time hehe. Next time I make this I am going to do better on the crust and maybe make one large meat pie instead of three little ones. I also could make a stew just purely out of the filling and not even bother with the crust. It was that good!

This was the first time in recent memory I have actually cooked something from scratch (with Dwayne's help of course) and if I get good enough at this I am actually considering selling these meat pies. I know Colombians would love these! So wish me luck lol. Yall take care,Tyler

P.S. Here is a great video for your enjoyment.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Relationships

I usually don't like to talk about relationships because it is a sensitive subject for me but the other day I read something interesting that inspired me to write this post. I read a post from some married woman and the headline title was "My husband is not my soul mate" that was shocking enough to grab my attention. You just usually don't hear married women say or write things like that. She went on to explain that she loved her husband very much and wouldn't want to be married to anyone else but that she could have been equally compatible with a number of other people. It was just a lucky roll of the dice that she married who she did, when she did and their love grew from there. Basically, she didn't believe in love at first sight.

After all the ups and downs I have had (relationship wise) I think I really agree with this. I have had some great relationships,some ok ones, and some terrible ones. All part of the learning process for me. There have been a few girls along my travels where had I stayed in that certain county for longer then I really feel something could have developed. After visiting 20+ countries, I have been exposed to a true mountain of women. All shapes,sizes,colors,races and personalities. I have been very lucky to experience variety. Some of these relationships have been great and had I (or she) made different choices it is possible that we could still be together or even married by now.

I try hard not to regret the past and look upon everything as the next step in the process towards my eventual long term solid relationship. Those of you who know me well, know that I have jumped the gun a few times now and really felt that I found the one and then found out she wasn't the one. When it doesn't work out, it hurts. For a while. Or when I (or she) makes choices that breaks us apart when we have a good thing going, that hurts. For a while. But just like everything else in life, after a while you get over it and move on. I have been able to do that every time in my life except once. There is still one girl from my past that is stuck in my mind and my life like a bad habit I can't get rid of. It is not necessarily a bad thing and she may not be the only girl on this planet that I am truly compatible with, but for whatever reason I still have these strong feelings for her all these years later and she knows exactly who she is. We both made the choices that we did which have set us on separate paths (forever it seems) and I do have a few regrets about that (even though I try not too) but, everything happens for a reason as they say.

I guess what I am trying to say is there is a multitude of women on this planet who are compatible for me, from my past,present and future. All I need to is find her. But I won't try too hard because as soon as you start "trying" really hard is when it doesn't happen. It is also possible that I may never find my soul mate, but regardless of what happens I have (overall) had a really happy,blessed life. I have been very lucky and couldn't ask for much more. Who knows, my future wife may be reading this post right now. Or I may meet her tomorrow.Maybe I already know her. Or maybe I meet her in twenty years. Only time will tell.

Yall take care. Tyler

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Internet saga

Actually getting functioning internet in my apartment here was such a process I am going to devote a whole blog post to this. It was the longest most frustrating process of my life,truly. So I moved into this apartment back in early March with my ex roommate Mark. We were told upfront there was no internet and we would have to sort it out. I thought it wouldn't be a problem and man alive was I ever wrong! I am "legal" here in Colombia, I have a bank account, a work visa,national ID and all the proper things you need for life here. I assumed this was enough to get the process started. But No.

The first company we tried to go with, they told me that they could do it no problem. So I registered it in my name and got the appointment for install all setup and then I waited. and waited. After days of delays they finally showed up and told me they couldn't do it because there was no coverage at my apartment even though at the physical store they said there was! I was so angry for wasting so time for nothing. But, a few days later they called back and said they now had coverage. This time I thought I was being smart though, I got the girlfriend of Mark (who is a Colombiana) to put the internet in her name. Then started this process all over again. More waiting. and waiting. finally I went to their office and asked them why no one has showed up to install my internet. They then informed me she wasn't in a certain Colombian database called Dato Credito so they couldn't do it! I was so mad because again I had wasted so much time!!

Fast forward a few weeks, Even though I was beginning to hate that company I went back to them again, this time with a good friend of mine who WAS in Dato Credito. Thought I covered all my bases this time when we put the internet in her name and waited for install. and waited. They were two days past the date they said they were going to install our internet and I was fearing the worst. Finally they showed up and informed me they had internet coverage on our street but not in our apartment!! At this point I wanted to cry and scream! So we cancelled the service that they never provided and moved onto company number two.

This company promised me that I didn't even have to be in Dato Credito, that they just had to verify two personal references and then they would mail us the wireless modem and we just plug it in. No install required. Well this "verification" process took 8 days and about a million phone calls and internet chats with them back and forth. My new roommate Cornelia even has a new nickname now "Senora Cornelia el chat" because she was chatting with them so much!

Well after 8 days of frustration and waiting we got so tired of it all we called to cancel everything. Man alive was that ever a process! Well you guessed it, the VERY next day (after we cancelled) they mailed us the modem! So we had to call and re-activate our service! What a pain! But then come to find out because the walls of my apartment are completely concrete, the signal was not strong enough! :( So back to square one for us.

At this point after 4.5 months of trying, I am losing hope that we will ever get internet. So we go to company number three. A friend of Cornelia's he had a direct contact in this company. We explained our situation to him and he pushed everything through. But, this company was THREE days late on their install. We were again at the point of cancelling our service (and actually did for a bit) but then we decided to fight it. We went to their office in person and Cornelia gave them a good lecture about all our troubles and FINALLY after three companies and 4.5 months of trying we now have internet.

This is what it is like for a foreigner to get internet in Colombia. All because I was not in a single freaking database that they needed. (But the process to get into that database is actually harder than getting internet) It is easier to get illegal things here than it is to get internet! Never had so many problems in my life. But thank God it is finally over.

Be thankful for the BBB and civilized North American companies who actually still treat you with a shred of respect. Life isn't always easy living in an "emerging economy" and the Colombian people let companies treat them like this. These companies only get away with this behavior because no one complains. (Except for us apparently)

But this whole sage proves the old saying "It isn't what you know, it's who you know".

Now I have two videos for your enjoyment so that entire post was pretty depressing. Just click the links below. -Tyler

Beat Boxing

Bogota sneak peak

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The blog of Random tidbits

Well I believe the last time I blogged I brought all of you back here to Colombia with me. What has happened since then? Frankly not a lot. My life is back to normal really. We are on vacation at work but I am still working with private clients. I have been seeing my friends and going out a little. I went to a BBQ at my friend's place the other weekend. I took my new roommate Cornelia (she is from Sweden). She is a pretty cool girl, we get along well and everything is just peachy so far. What else can I tell you? I went to the largest rock festival in all of South America, Rock Al Parque (Rock the Park) it was a wet rainy mess and it was cold but we did get to see a cool Bosnian Band and a pretty decent Jazz/Blues band from The States. Even after four months I am STILL struggling to get internet in my apartment. I had my Colombian friend sign us up for internet under her name to make things easier and I was really hopeful that would speed up the process and we could finally join the real connected world but alas, on the day they were supposed to arrive to install my internet they didn't. Nor did they call. So I called them and they said they "forgot" and they will be there two days later. So I am extremely frustrated, not very hopeful and still waiting.... This is Colombia so you must have patience.

I have noticed my blogs are getting shorter and shorter. It isn't that I have lost interest in blogging it is just that I don't have anything of interest to say. If you have a suggestion for a blog topic please let me know. -Tyler

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Leaving Texas

I know I only wrote one blog entry while I was home in Texas but honestly I didn't have much to write about. Don't get me wrong, I was very happy to see all my family and friends and eat Texas food and drink Texas beer. But, all the things I did were very normal and not really blog worthy. I just really had a good two weeks relaxing and just adjusting back to life in America for a short time. I was happy to have Father's Day with my dad (and all my family) back in Texas. I got to go to our new deer lease with my dad. It hasn't even been hunted on yet! Deer season isn't until November but we had a "work day" at the lease and man alive did we work hard! Setting up deer feeders and fences and putting out deer corn and such. It was nice to spend some quality time with my dad though. It has been a while since we have got to do that.

Nothing else really eventful happened besides watching Lucas graduate (congrats Lucas!) and seeing all my family and friends. What got eventful was when I was trying to get back to Bogota. See, I got a cheap flight with Spirit Airlines ( I HATE that airline but they are almost always the cheapest even with all their stupid baggage fees and such) well I had the 6am flight from Dallas to Ft. Lauderdale to Bogota (no direct flight with Spirit) :(

Anyway, I got through the airport security and customs and such without any problems. Then we went to board the plane and once we got all seated, we just sat there, and sat there and sat there. I was getting quite frustrated. It was raining at the time and there was lightning though. Finally the pilot comes on and says we can't do anything because there is lots of lightning. I am a reasonable person so I do understand that delay. Well we waited even longer and then finally the pilot comes on and says "OK now we can start fueling the plane!" well we wait EVEN more and then he comes on again and tells everyone to get off the plane! I was really mad because I had such a tight connection in Ft. Lauderdale I just knew I would miss it!

Of course I was correct. Spirit couldn't re-book me to make to Bogota on the day I planned (meaning I would miss one day of work) but, Spirit put all of us up in a Holiday Inn in Ft. Lauderdale (which they paid for of course) unfortunately this hotel was not even close to anything so we just stayed at the hotel the whole time and used all of our meal vouchers (which was a very small amount). Luckily I got stuck with a great group of people. Back in Dallas two ladies came up to me and they were a bit older and looked kind of scared. They asked me if I spoke Spanish. I said yes I was immediately their translator haha. I really didn't mind it at all though. I know what it is like to be in a country and not speak the language. It can be very intimidating, so I was happy to help. In addtion, I met a really cool Colombian-American couple who was really nice, and their daughter actually lives in Bogota now.

I met a really cool lady named Katie though. She was probably the one I connected with the most. I guess because of the hometown connection. She lives pretty close to my parents back in Texas and she was interested in travel and we even work in same field! We really connected well and she will be one of my friends for years to come, I feel. It was her first time coming to Bogota and she had limited Spanish. I was happy to give her some tips and help her along the way. I am happy to report I just received an email from her and all went well :) Good job Colombia! haha.

Anyway, I am now back for my last week of work (testing and finals) before we take a month off for vacation and then start again in August. I also have a new roommate (Mark had to leave) she is Swedish and super cool so  far. Things are all good here :) Well that's all I have for now. Yall take care,Tyler

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Texas

I have really been slacking on this blog lately! I came back home to Texas to watch my baby brother graduate High School an that I am proud to say that he made it! It was a neat experience for me to watch Lucas (who is ten years younger than me) graduate high school. Sometimes it seems as if I just got out of high school myself. But, he has his whole life ahead of him and a lot of potential. He will go to college now and study to be an ER Nurse (until he changes his mind that is) :P but I told him to take his time and don't rush it. I wish he would travel but that is a very personal decision and travel is not for everyone. As long as he is happy and doing something with his life then I am happy for him.

As for me, I have just been enjoying my time here (it is almost over!) eating and relaxing and seeing friends. Nothing super special to report on my end. But, it has been great to see all my family and friends and spend Father's Day here. I was lucky enough to be to go to the deer lease with my dad and spend some time down there with him. I have actually gained some weight also! All that American food and my mother's cooking :D I will try and take a few pictures before I return to Bogota. See you soon Colombia! Tyler

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A Little Survey

I want to propose a little survey purely for my own curiousity so if you are reading this please take just a minute to answer my short few questions in the comment section below this post. Please and Thanks :) I will love you forever haha. -Tyler the Traveling Texan.

1. What country are you from?

2. Your age? (or roundabouts if your shy)

3. Have you ever left your home country?

4. Where would you want to visit if you could visit anywhere?

Ok thats all I have for you! four simple questions :) have at it, thanks again, Tyler

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

One week until Texas (For Lucas)

Well my friends, as of today it is just one week until I get to back home and visit my friends and family for two weeks! I am pretty excited about drinking Dr. Pepper and eating some Whataburger and having some good home cooking. I am real happy to see my baby brother graduate High School and see my friends and family again. I cant believe how grown up he is now. Lucas, it seems just like yesterday I was getting out of high school and starting my life (look where I am now!) but, it is your turn now. I truly wish you the best and hope you get everything you need in life. Notice I didn't say everything you WANT. Because sometimes it is better to get what you need and not what you want. Had I gotten what I wanted, I would be an Airforce pilot or in the Army and it is possible I could be very hurt or even dead by now. Luckily for me, I was able to continue my life in another direction and have a super supportive family and friends to help me along the way. I am still figuring out what I want out of my life but, I do know that I love traveling, I love speaking Spanish and I love being able to see new cultures and people. I love seeing things that most people only dream of.

Lucas, if I can give you just one piece of advice that you will remember it is this: Take your time. Don't rush. You have your whole life ahead of you and get out there and see the world. Experience something new and don't settle for the first thing that hits your fancy. Fail at something and then try something new. In the ten years I have on you, I have learned many life lessons but if I had to choose one that would be the most important. Don't forget to tell Mom and Dad how much you love them. Remember that even when you got angry at them they have always wanted only the best for you. We have two of the best parents anyone could ask for.

I meant to write more but I kinda turned this into a message to my brother Lucas. I hope he reads this. I love you bud and happy (almost) graduation. I will see you soon (and everyone else also!) Tyler

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Dar Papaya- It happened again.

Well it happened again. I got robbed. This is unfortunately becoming a bad pattern for me. I still love this country and it isn't all bad but the reality is that Gringos are frequently targeted. A few months back I had my wallet stolen. Now I have had my bad (with my laptop and all my work documents in it) stolen. I was out having a few beers with some friends from work and since there was so many people around our table I naively assumed that it wouldn't be stolen when I got up to go to the bathroom. Well I was wrong. It was stolen (and replaced with another empty bag) without anyone seeing anything. The thieves here are really good, you have to give them that.

The only good news is that I still have my money,ID,phone etc. and I wasn't harmed at all. Now that I have been robbed twice here in Colombia I have really learned my lesson. You just can't leave anything laying around. There is a huge gap between people who have money and people who don't. So people here generally steal to survive because there is no government services to help them out if they are out of a job or have very little money. It is quite sad but it is the reality of living in an "emerging economy".

There is a saying here in Colombia, it doesn't translate into English very well but it is Dar Papaya. Dar is the verb to "give" in Spanish and obviously Papaya is a fruit. If you give Papaya it means you do something that gives a thief or thieves a chance to rob you. By getting up and leaving my bag I gave papaya. I don't really like this saying because it gives the thieves an excuse for their behavior and shifts the blame to the victims but everyone who lives here knows this saying.

I still like living here and it is not a bad country even though I have been robbed twice now. I am going home in about two weeks so I will have to buy a replacement computer but luckily most of my stuff was backed up. I will be extra careful with everything from now on. I will still recommend that anyone visit Colombia but just be extra careful with your things and don't go around flashing expensive stuff. It isn't the fault of the country it is the income divide and I guess partly cultural. But, that being said, you can be robbed anywhere at anytime so this is not unique to Colombia.

See you soon Texas,Tyler

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Dia de Madre

Well this past Sunday was Dia de Madre or Mother's Day here in Colombia and in the good ol USA as well I guess. Unfortunately for me I was not able to be with my dear mother on her day this year but she knows that as always I am there in spirit. Luckily though, I was able to have a mother for a day. I went with a friend of mine to her family's house in a town outside of Bogota called Cota. It is a really small nice town away from the traffic and noise of Bogota and the weather was great so it was a really nice break after my trip to Lake Guatavita (see my facebook pictures) and I was lucky to have two real nice small holidays in a row. Marcela's family was really super nice to meet (as are almost all Colombians!) of course, because this was a Colombian family event there was about 1000 people there and lots and lots of food and beer. Just my style :) Everyone was really friendly to me and very curious about me and how I was liking Colombia. Luckily now my Spanish is decent enough that I can hold a conversation with just about anyone on just about any subject even though I am still far from perfect, I can be understood and understand.

Monday was a day off here since Sunday was Mother's Day. ( I love all the holiday breaks in this country!) so all I did was rest and relax. But, it is now Tuesday and I am back at work. I have a big presentation on "Accents from Texas and around the world" for a big group of important people here at work tomorrow. I am slightly nervous but excited as well and I am almost done preparing my powerpoint presentation as I write this to you. Things are going really well at work and I like my new job a lot. Things are still good on the apartment front and I really don't have much to complain about at all right now. I am a pretty lucky guy. Well that's all I got.

See you June 4th, Texas friends/family! :) -Tyler

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

My Weekend Away

Well hello there! Long time no write. I know I have gotten pretty bad at keeping this blog up to date but, I do have a few good (or at least I think good) reasons. Most importantly I don't have internet at my house. Just here at work so obviously I can't update my blog all the time. Secondly, I have a pretty "normal" life now. I go to work everyday and come home everyday just like you do. Only I do it in a foreign country and speak a language that isn't English. I seriously doubt that many people still follow this blog but I know my family and some friends still follow this blog. I can single out a beautiful Belgian friend of mine who shall remain nameless but she is one of my most loyal readers and for that I really am thankful. Ok, enough excuses onto my blog post.

My awesome new-ish boss Ruben has some property outside of Bogota in a city that is actually hot and (usually) dry with very little rain. He invited all of us teachers out there for the weekend to relax and escape Bogota for a while. Of course we all accepted! So off we went. We left Bogota on Saturday morning and after about a three hour drive we arrived in the city where Ruben's weekend house was. This was a very small city that was quiet with not much going on, very typically Colombian. Of course coming from the craziness and bad weather of Bogota it was very very refreshing to me and the other teachers who had come along. We were all very thankful for Ruben's generous offer of letting us stay there for the weekend.

I really don't have much to tell you except that a lot of beer was drank, a lot of swimming was done, a bit of hiking and I have returned to Bogota with a sunburn. Not a HORRIBLE sunburn to bad enough to feel it. This is of course the first time in months and months I have been able to wear shorts and even have the chance to get a sunburn so I didn't mind too much. We hiked up to some quite disappointing waterfalls,got to ride horses,use paddle boats and stuff our faces with great food until we almost exploded. In addition to this we got to play a tradition Colombian game called Tejo which I am really horrible at. It involves a lot of beer and explosives. The object of the game is to throw basically big rocks at small explosive charges buried in clay opposite of you. It is fun but difficult even when sober. Of course it is always a good time even when you are terrible, some Colombians are quite good but us Gringos were not. Indoor Tejo with many people can be quite dangerous but luckily we were outside on a small field and no danger to anyone.

The ride home was on a nice big bus (with AC!) and it only cost 10,000 pesos or $5 USD! I figured it would have taken three hours at the very least but this guy drove like a speed demon and we got back home after three days of blissful relaxation in only two hours. Of course we came home to cold and rain so that was no fun but it's life huh? I am now back at work and doing my "normal" stuff, but it sure was nice for a little break and I really like my job so it doesn't feel like work when I come here. I may hate the weather and traffic of Bogota but I am happy with almost everything else. Unfortunately I don't have too much else to report. I really hope if you are reading this everything is well in your world and I will try to keep up with this blog more like old times. -Tyler

P.S.: Texas people, I will be home June 4th for two weeks!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

My first year in Colombia ( I survived!) :)

Well today is the one year anniversary of my time here in Colombia and I have at least one more year to go. My how the time has gone fast! I can't believe I was landing here in Bogota a year ago already. So much has happened since then. I certainly have had my ups and my down's but, overall a really good time. At this moment the only thing I can complain about is the traffic and the rain ;) I have learned A LOT of Spanish in one year but I am far from perfect and need to practice hard if I want to continue towards my goal of being a translator/interpreter. Of course by now, I can generally get everything I need on a daily basis without any problems and I can even hold long semi complicated conversations totally in Spanish. There is many word's I don't know but I do know how to get my point across even if I say it wrong or don't know the correct words.  As I said in my earlier Facebook status, I have not been harmed in any way (other than having my wallet pick pocketed which could happen anywhere) I have not been forced into the drug trade,sold into sexual slavery,kidnapped,held hostage or any of the other crazy things the American Media typically says about Colombia. I honestly enjoy my life here and want to stay here until I learn Spanish fluently.

Of course this is not a perfect country and there is many things that are not good and things that frustrate me but, nowhere is perfect, certainly not America at the moment. Even if I am not living in America I am still a proud American. People are nice and friendly here and overall I have had a very positive experience here and would recommend Colombia to any travelers. Do not expect it to be like your home country though, Colombia is completely different than anywhere else in the world and it is still an "emerging economy" so you will find that some things are not yet up to "first world" standards. If this is a problem for you then you might have a little bit of a rough time but, if you are capable of handle new challenges and realizing that just because something is different than your home doesn't make it bad then Colombia is for you!

I look forward to what the next year has in store for me! Yours,Tyler

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

My likes and dislikes after one year here

You know, now that I have been living in an “emerging economy” for a year now I figured I would take the time to give you my list of likes and dislikes and things I miss from back home. First I will start with the things I like and dislike about Colombia and then I will do the same for Texas (or the USA in general) life has become pretty routine for me here, I go to work and do “normal” things just like you only I choose to do it outside of my home country. There is some major differences though, that is for sure.

First off, I really like that I can eat and live here in Colombia fairly cheaply. Most things are much cheaper here than they would be back home. Fresh good food is really cheap. Just one example, I just recently bought 1 kilo (2.2 pounds) of carrots, 3 kilos (5 pounds) of potatoes and one head of cauliflower all for the equivalent of three USD (US Dollars). Back home that would be impossible. Here in Colombia they almost force you to eat healthy because it is cheap and eating “unhealthy” such as McDonald’s or any “fast food”, is very expensive. I think this is a good thing and it has forced me to learn how to cook and eat healthier. In the States it is almost the exact opposite hence our obesity problem back home. If I do choose to eat out, I can have a regular lunch for $2.50 USD and that includes everything. If I want to go to a sit down restaurant $25 USD for two people would be an expensive place here. So food is very cheap. I do really like most Colombian foods, but I sure do miss ground black pepper.

I share a beautiful 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment in a great neighborhood, with my roommate and my share of the rent is only $300 USD a month. It would be almost impossible to live in a comparable neighborhood back home for the same price. But, Colombian's attention to details in general can be lacking sometimes. For example when we moved in here they told us everything would be ready in 2 weeks and it took them over a month to finish remodeling this place. Once we actually moved in there was no handles on the drawers and things like that. It is just the little things that do matter which they sometimes don't care about. Also, the pace is of life is just so much slower here. Even living in “The New York of South America” I find that people just don't rush around and get so busy as they do back home. They really take time to enjoy life here. There is “Tiempo Colombiano” and “Tiempo Americano” trust me, there is a big difference in the concept of time between the two. Sometimes it can be a good thing and sometimes a bad thing.

The cost of human labor here is extremely cheap. For example if I need my watch fixed I can get it fixed here for one or two dollars. Back home it would be much more expensive to get my watch fixed (or any human labor) I also like that I have the option of public transportation here. (Which is good because I don't have a car here) The public transportation can be both good and bad but it is just nice that here they offer a viable option for it, if you want to use it. Here it is nice that I live in a city that is large enough that I can do pretty much whatever I feel like, whenever I feel like it. Almost everything activity or hobby wise is available here.

It is nice that there is a lot of holidays here (and I do mean a lot) so I have time to go and explore Colombia and have time for myself. I really enjoy getting out of Bogota when I can so I can see more of this beautiful country. Colombia has everything, mountains,oceans,jungles,plains,hot,cold,wet,dry whatever you are into you can find it here. Colombia actually has one of the largest ecosystems in the whole world (Including the most poisonous animal on the planet, a frog). Every part of Colombia is different so I enjoy being able to see different things and there is also very large regional accents here.

I have a true passion for the Spanish language and have really come to love speaking it and learning it. I am far from perfect but (almost) everyone here is very friendly and receptive to helping me practice my Spanish and correct my mistakes. Spanish is a very expressive language so I love learning all the different new words that we don't have in English. For the most part Colombians and very proud of their country (as they should be) and they really want to get rid of the negative stereotypes and help increase tourism here. Generally speaking almost all Colombians will go out of their way to help me when I need it or show me something new, take the time to make sure I have everything I need.
I enjoy living in a city that pays very good wages for a very in demand skill (teaching English) and I enjoy living in Colombia now. I am still living in the “raw” Colombia. It is not overrun by tourists here and I get a very authentic feel here. That is changing though, I see more and more iphones and technology here everyday. Colombians love to have technology just as much as Americans do, it is just not as prevalent because of the high cost but it is getting cheaper by the day here. Just a quick addition here, In Colombia you are only charged in you make a phone not if someone calls you. I like the fact that you can talk for free if you are the “receiver” of the call.

I really like that in Bogota you can buy food (or almost anything you want) on the street. Bogota is also very progressive in the fact that for over thirty years they have had “Ciclovia” every Sunday. Between 7am and 3pm they close off large parts of the city to vehicle traffic and only allow bikes,walking,roller blader's etc. It is really quite healthy. Another good thing Bogota does is prohibits by law certain cars from driving on certain days (depending on your license plate number) to try and cut down on pollution. This of course overloads the public transportation system since people can't always drive their cars but still it is a good thing.

As for my dislikes, I hate the weather of Bogota. All of Colombia doesn't share the same weather. There is every climate you could ever want, in this country. Unfortunately for me I chose Bogota without exploring my options first. There really is no seasons here in Bogota. I have never been to Seattle but I would imagine it is very similar to Bogota. I never gets truly “hot” here and it rains often. So really the only variances in the days if it will be raining from one day or the next. In general, it is warm during the day and cold at night. You don't want to leave the house without a jacket or an umbrella though. My “normal outfit” is a short (or long sleeve) shirt and jeans. Of course I always bring my jacket and umbrella no matter the weather because here it can change completely in a span of 15 minutes. I do miss wearing my shorts and sandals that is impossible in Bogota (but not on the coast or other warmer cities in Bogota). The bad weather depresses me, it is by far my biggest complaint here.

Next up would be the traffic. In a city of 9 million people of course traffic is going to be bad but, here it is horrible. I spend hours of my life jammed into buses, sometimes crammed in like an animal and because of the bad condition of some of the roads it can take forever to get anywhere. Also they do not have one unified bus system The Transmelinio (The Metro Bus System) goes to some parts of the city but not all (and you have three different rider cards depending on which part of the city you want to go too) then there is Collectivos (small buses always jammed packed full of people and it will stop anywhere that you press the “stop” button) so between the two bus systems (The Collectivos have no map system or “stops” they just have written destinations so you have to know where you are and where you want to go.)

My biggest complaint about the collectivos besides all the constant stopping and crazy drivers, is that they allow “Sellers” to come onto the buses and hawk their various fares or beg or money or do some terrible rap song on these horribly overcrowded buses (sometimes I cant even sit down and I have to stand up) and when I just want to ride the bus home in peace I get harassed by these people with their long drawn out sales pitches and they don't even pay to ride the bus! In a year of living here in Bogota I have not once bought anything from these people, that should give you an indication of the quality of their stuff. Taxis are another story, they are usually pretty good (and quite cheap) but if it is raining hard they usually refuse to pick you up because they don't want to get the inside of their taxi wet (but of course this is when you need them most!) a ride almost all the way across the city will cost you roughly 10 USD.

Bogota is laid out in a grid like system (very similar to New York) except here there is carreras and calles. So you really don't need a map. You just need to know what carrera and calle you need to go to and then you are done. Carrerras run in one direction and calle intersect in the other direction. In Theory. Bogota is so massive and built over so many different years and the system doesn't always work. They have streets A-G and transversals,diagonals and it can be very complicated but once you learn the system it is actually quite easy. So for me this kind of numerical only mapping system is both a positive and a negative.

Another chief complaint of mine would be the pollution. Obviously in a city of 9 million people this is unavoidable, but, Bogota is inside a mountain valley so all the pollution just gets trapped and hangs around. The Collectivos and cars and other things sometimes are not the most modern so they just spew pollution. It is almost impossible to exercise outside (due both to the pollution and the altitude) Breathing in the air just feels unhealthy and it has caused me all sorts of various health issues since being here. Nothing super serious but more annoying, like throat problems,eye problems,coughing etc. all due to the pollution of course. I cant imagine living in this city for my entire life. The pollution is certainly not as bad as China or India but it is pretty bad and a big problem.

My next “dislike” would be about the social behavior of Colombians in general. Almost always, all Colombians are very nice,caring honest people and I have zero problems with them except in two situations. On public transportation people turn into animals and can be very rude and pushy and that forces me to use animalistic behavior and be rude just so that I can get where I am going. Otherwise people will just push you around, walk right over you and you will never get anywhere! The other situation is any circumstance where you have to be in a line. Most especially in any kind of government or insurance office. People will shamelessly cut in front of you,disrespect the line totally (even if you have a number!) and it is just plain rude but it is just part of the culture here. In almost every other circumstance you can think of though, Colombians are very nice,giving,caring people. There is an enormous gap between the rich and the poor here and I really dislike that but no matter their social class people are really rude in lines, (not everyone of course just a generalization)

Along the same vein, the wait times at any kind of insurance or government office are horrendous. It can easily take hours or days to accomplish the simplest of tasks. You can plan a half day or an entire work day easily in one or two government offices or insurance offices because it takes them that long to see you. An example, when I went to receive my Colombian National ID I waited almost an entire workday and then they finally got everything taken care of and told me to come pick it up in ten days. Well I came back in ten days and they told me it wasn't ready. Well due to various governmental changes etc, it took them nine months to get it to me! If you need any kind of service here in Colombia, refunds almost never exist and be prepared to wait and wait to get what you need. It is truly who you know here, and not what you know. The nationalized healthcare system here is good for basic things and other than some wait time for basic stuff I have no problem with it. It is cheap and the quality is decent but, if you need anything “serious” taken care of, it is much better to pay for private care it is better and faster.

Anything that can be considered “imported” or “processed can be very very expensive here. This annoys me because sometimes I just want some peanut butter or Frosted Flakes but they are prohibitively expensive here. Technology is also very expensive here. Anything electronic will cost a lot here. You know most of the road work here is done manually with men using pick axes because it is actually cheaper to pay them than for the company to buy one jack hammer! Some of the roads in Colombia are pretty terrible. The “old district” of Bogota was settled in 1538 so obviously some of the roads are really old. They can be full of trash and not leveled correctly. So when it rains it is like walking through the ocean (only with trash in it.) Bogota has tried to clean up it's image (literally) here in the past few years but, people still litter constantly and there is a serious lack of trash cans and cultural training. But, this is not unique to Colombia. Most third world countries or “emerging economies” are exactly the same. I haven't been able to pin down a true reason. I think people here care about the environment and such I guess it is just lack of enforceable laws and lack of personal responsibility coupled with the lack of trash cans that makes littering such a bad problem.

Ok, that ends my likes and dislikes for Colombia. Now I will tell you my likes and dislikes about Texas (and the USA in general). First off, I love the weather of Texas. It is perfect for me. I really enjoy the hot weather. It it is just so great that I can wear shorts and sandals (almost) all year long. I enjoy being able to go to the lake or the pool and go swimming almost all year long. I miss the long Texas summers and long days.

I miss Texas food. (Fried okra specifically) more than any other food. I miss good Texas steak and my mother's cooking. I miss Bluebell ice cream and good Mexican food. I miss Black pepper and Asian food. I miss pop-tarts and American junk food. I miss Whataburger and Wendy’s and any restaurant with a drive thru. I miss rice and gravy and good baked or mashed potatoes. Basically anything you can think of, food wise I miss it. I miss ground black pepper. I miss donuts and cinnamon rolls and biscuits and gravy. I miss my mom's homemade chicken noodle soup.

I miss country music and American music in general. I miss American movies and TV in English. I miss being able to get in my car and go wherever I want,whenever I want. America is still the land of the free (for the moment anyway) we do have more civil rights and liberties than many other countries. I miss hanging out with my friends and family. I miss road trips. I miss Shiner Bock and good Texas/American beer. I miss the Texas accent. I also miss speaking English sometimes. I miss my GPS. I miss going to concerts. I miss dollar beer nights and happy hour. I miss Dr. Pepper. I miss beef jerky. Ok I have to stop my food list now, I could go on forever about what I miss food wise.

I miss being able to go to an ATM at night or walk around with my wallet in my back pocket and not have to worry about getting robbed. Colombia has really become MUCH safer than it was in the 90's but you still have to be cautious with your wallet and money. You could easily be pick pocketed in The States as well though. Of course I miss my friends and family even if I don't talk with them as much as I should I am certainly still thinking of them all. I miss just being able to see them whenever I want and just hang out.

Well now I have to tell you my dislikes about Texas and The US in general. I really dislike the pace of the lifestyle back home. People are so focused on their careers or whatever it might be and they are so short sighted. They go through their lives working themselves to death so they can “have fun in retirement” but what is the point of being so single minded? Why work yourself to death so that you can enjoy yourself when you are old, instead why not do it when you are young and able? Americans in general just can sit back and enjoy life like Colombians or other nations can. I get so bored at home doing the same thing day in and day out just to pay off your credit card bills that you have racked up by doing basically nothing! Or maybe take two weeks off every YEAR to go somewhere and you still answer your emails and your phone calls. I really dislike to generally speaking most Americans don't know how to relax and enjoy life.
America almost forces you to be unhealthy. Healthy food is so expensive that people will almost always choose the cheaper less healthy alternative. In Colombia cooking for yourself can cost you less than a dollar per meal if you work it right. A McDonald’s meal can cost over 10 USD. American consumerism and spending is out of control as well. We as a nation are in debt up to our eyeballs,with nothing to show for it except more debt! China almost owns America and we are still trying to be the world police. I really wish that our government as whole would really just honestly try and focus on America helping Americans for the first time in a long long time.

I hate the American Tax System (where everything is taxed after you purchase it) so if something cost $19.99 and I have a $20 I can't even buy it! Here in Colombia tax is included in everything as it should be. I hate the penny. It is worthless and annoying I wish they would get rid of it like Canada did. I hate how focused on America (most) Americans are. I wish people traveled more and realized that this big beautiful world has many cultures,languages,countries and other things to offer. I also hate how America makes it so far for other people to visit or live in America because what ends up happening is those other countries charge me (and other American travelers) “Reciprocal visa fees. Basically I get charged whatever America charges their citizens. I am not advocating that we just let everyone into America willy nilly but relax a little!

America and Americans have been targets and security has been an issue for years now. America is the last remaining “Super Power” I guess. Obviously after all that has happened America has a reason to be concerned about security. Terrorism is no joke and not something to take lightly. But, I think sometimes our American government goes overboard. Going to the airport in America is not even close to an enjoyable experience anymore. Compared to other countries America is much more paranoid about security though. Everyone is really uptight. This is just not enjoyable at all. It really bothers me that America has some ridiculous restrictions on travel (that other countries don't have) like being able to freely travel to Cuba. I dislike that other nations sometimes really dislike Americans just because of our government which I have no control over. Of course I really thank all of the security people and our military trying to keep America safe and for the most part doing a good job but after many recent events back home, it seems that more security is not the answer. We need to rethink our global strategy from the ground up.

When I am in America back home in Texas visiting friends and family I do miss speaking Spanish. I miss Colombia when I am in Texas and sometimes when I am in Colombia I miss Texas. I really dislike the fact that I am all good with being home for two or three weeks and then after that I get bored and unsatisfied, I get itchy feet and want to leave again. I dislike the fact that I bored with my homeland. I dislike the fact that I can't feel truly happy in the land of my birth. I am American and always will be but over these past years I have felt more like a citizen of the world instead of a citizen of America, the country that issued my passport. I am fairly certain that one day I will return home to live in America but I have no idea for how long or what I will do there. I only hope that I can be truly happy when I do chose to return to the good ol US of A. Because regardless of my personal feelings or the feelings of others and regardless of the problems America does have, I truly believe it is still one of the best countries in the world and in much better shape than some other countries in many different respects.

Well there you have it, a long list of my likes and dislikes from both home and abroad. I really have nothing else special to report, I am just working at my new job (still teaching, going great) and doing normal things. But I am back to being happy old me after a few bumps in my personal life. If you read this far, thanks for reading. Til next time,Tyler