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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Der Untergang (The Downfall)

I recently watched a German movie called Der Untergang (or The Downfall) about the last ten days of Hitler's life. This was a really good movie that explored Hitler's personality and his effects on World War Two. Hitler really was a great orator and speaker but he was a terrible,horrible human being. For as long as I can remember I have been horrified and fascinated with how one man could captivate an entire country into slaughtering over six millions Jews and countless other ethnic groups simply because they were “different” and not part of the “master race”. Hitler motivated thousands of seemingly normal people to do unspeakable things that you and I would never do. Why is this?

How did normal men and woman go from living normal lives into contributing to the killing and torture of millions of people? If it could happen to them, could it happen to us? I like to think that I could never ever be influenced by anyone to do horrible things to other people simply because they are different. What made Hitler and the German people so different? I think it was just a “perfect storm” of circumstances that allowed Hitler to take power and influence an entire country so completely. It was no one thing. It was Hitler's speaking skills, his grip over the economy and politics, his power in the military,his ability to create a power structure that allowed powerful people to do horrible things and last but certainly not least, apathy from the German people. I am by no means saying that every German was a bad person or is a bad person. In fact to the contrary one of my best friends is German and I really enjoyed my travels to Germany and would love to return. The German people as a whole certainly don't deny their history and Nazism is illegal in Germany now. But, during the Second World War the German people were so captivated by Hitler that many of them did horrible things. Maybe they thought “It isn't really my problem” or “it doesn't directly affect me” or “someone else will take care of it” or simply “I don't care” Whatever the reason, the affects of Hitler and World War Two caused the death of over fifty million people globally and involved almost every major country in the world. This coming just 20-ish years after World War One.

I can relate to apathy in my own life. I can use my blog as an example. I know that I do have a fairly large readership base but relative few people actually comment on my blogs. Why is this? Do people not care? Do they have no time? Do my blogs bore people? Does it take too much effort to comment?Lack of motivation? I think it is a combination of all these things. I am by no means angry or sad about this. I am guilty of this myself. We have become a society of people who do not take action for anything unless we are extremely motivated to do so. Not commenting on my blog will not cause the death of millions of people but in a small way I think it does parallel the actions of World War Two.

Hitler was a very disturbed horrible man who deserves one of the worst places in Hell for what he did but what we need to remember is that we cannot forget the lessons we (globally) as a human race have learned from that terrible period in history. My grandfather was a soldier in World War Two and when he was alive I always wanted to hear stories about the war. As I grew older I stopped wanting to hear stories simply for the sake of hearing a story. My respect for him as a person and his service really grew and I actually LISTENED to what he had to say when I was older. As a kid I just wanted to hear battle stories. I will be forever grateful for his actions and those that he served with they helped preserve my freedom. War is horrible in any form but back then the German soldiers fought for their cause and the Allies for their cause with a purpose. Now war has changed. There are no more battle fields and uniforms and causes. It is now all blended together without a specific cause. I truly hope that this world never has to go through another World War. If you haven't seen Der Untergang (Downfall) I highly suggest it. It is in German with English subtitles. Very powerful performances in that movie.

P.S. Not to make light of World War Two at all, but, there is quite funny “Downfall” parodies on Youtube.
That's all I have for you today,Tyler

Connecting the dots

I think I may have wrote about this before but I wanted to touch on this subject again since a lot has happened in the past few months. I really do believe life is about connecting the dots. You may not be able to see it in the moment but when you can look back on things and see clearly how one thing leads to another. Every experience is in some way related to another experience. Usually though, you can't see how it is all connected until you have some time,age,experience and perspective.

For example, I took my first trip out of America when I was 15 years old (with my church) it was on that trip that I started to get bit by the travel bug. Five years after that, I joined an international travel group www.tribewanted.com. I had some great trips to Fiji,Germany,England,Ireland and Chicago. I made some life long friends within that group, some of whom I still keep in touch with even now. If it weren't for my trip to Panama I never would have had the guts to join Tribewanted and start traveling.

Once I started traveling with all my friends from that group I really got the full on travel bug. From the age of about 18 to 24 I would travel somewhere outside of America at least once a year for at least a month. I saw many great countries that way both solo and in groups. Obviously though, I had a life back in America. I was working (not at a great job but it paid the bills) I had my family and friends back in Texas. Fast forward to 2009. I was working for a company that was sub contracted to Home Depot. Once the economy started to tank our company went belly up and my whole division was laid off.

Once I lost my job there for a bit I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I had no job,no college degree and no passion in life other than traveling. I was 24 years old and lost in life. I was directionless and floating in the sea of life without a life jacket. Luckily though one day I decided to Google “Jobs overseas” the first result that came up was a Working Holiday Visa in Australia. I had visited Australia in 2008 for about three weeks and really enjoyed it. This was different though. It meant moving to Australia for one year and working there without any friends or family. It was a scary prospect for a 24 year old. I thought about it for a few days and then took the leap of faith. I decided to do it!

Thank God I did because it changed my whole life! The first month was scary and I was lonely. I had no friends, no family and I knew basically no one. To top it all off I had no job. I was really homesick and came close to just quitting and going back home. I decided to tough it out and stay though. It was the second best decision I have ever made. I had met a girl on the plane ride from Sydney to LA (she was my seat mate) and Sandradee got me started. She let stay in her house until I got my feet under me. I found a job and started making friends. Without the initial support of Sandradee I don't know what I would have done!

After about two months I was really starting to enjoy myself. I had a good job,I made some friends and I had a roof over my head and food in my belly. I was no longer so home sick and life was good. It was about then that I met one of my now best friends. Ben (from Germany) we met on the city bus. He had just arrived and was looking at a map and looking lost. I decided to help him out and from that moment on we were fast friends. We ended up traveling together for well over one year! If I would have left Australia I never would have met him or any other of my great friends that I still have in Australia.

So where does that leave me? Well I ended up staying a whole year in Australia living and working there and having a great time traveling and meeting many great people all over Australia, all the while seeing amazing things. After my year there I wasn't ready to come home because I was having too much fun! So Ben and I decided to move to New Zealand together. New Zealand was close and offered a working visa program. So off we went. In New Zealand I had a great year of traveling and working there as well. I worked construction,on the railroad and on a concert tour. I had many jobs in many different things. I had so many new work experiences that have helped me in my life. Not only that but I met two of my now best friends Nadia and Deborah from England. I was very active in Couch Surfing and met so many great people and had so many great experiences that I couldn't even begin to list them all. Did you know that I even got a trombone solo for my birthday. My friend Maya was kind even to play happy birthday for me on her trombone. I won't ever forget that! If I had never decided to go to Australia I never would have decided to go to New Zealand. Another dot connected.

In between my year in Australia and my year in New Zealand I took some time off to travel South East Asia with my friend Kevin. One day we were in Australia and he asked me if I wanted to go to Thailand. I had never really thought about it and I knew nothing about Asia but I was happy to go somewhere new so I said yes! On the plane ride over, Kevin and I met my now good friend Tony. The three of us decided to travel together and we ended up meeting my now good friends Scott and Ashleigh. We had our wolf pack complete. We had so many great memories together that I will never forget. Without saying yes to Kevin's suggestion to go to Thailand none of that would have happened for me. Another dot connected.

Fast forward to my second year away from Texas, my year in New Zealand was ending. Ben and I had quite a lot of money from our jobs and nowhere to spend it so we decided to travel South America. We started in Chile then Bolivia,Peru,Argentina and then Ben went to Brazil and I went to Colombia. We had a great time in South America even though at the time my Spanish was terrible and so was his! I have so many good memories of the time we had. Well after that both Ben and I had been away from home for two years! (My family did come see me in New Zealand) but both of us were broke and it was time to go back to our respective countries after 18 months and change of being away.

I came back home to Texas and really tried hard to live a “normal” life. I tried to get a job and do the things that most people do but I just couldn't do it. I was unhappy with my life. I didn't enjoy the routine and I loved the traveling lifestyle so much more. So I decided I would get certified to teach English overseas and go do it! I got my TEFL degree and decided to go back to Thailand and teach there because I really enjoyed that country. Another dot connected. I arrived with no job and nowhere to live but I still had a few friends from my travels there. I ended up meeting an Aussie named Maurice and he was (and is) a great guy. He convinced me to leave Bangkok (the capitol city) and go with him to a very small town called Bangsaphan. I had never even heard of this place but I went with him anyway. I ended up getting a job there and living on a beautiful beach with a great Thai lady named Noong. She was really good at taking care of me and she was a great cook. I will always fondly remember my time living in that beautiful beach house with her and random guests who would come in and out. I taught Thai children and at first it was so difficult because I had zero training. It was really sink or swim. I made it though! I had a great time there and finished out my whole contract.

Fast forward a little more to my teaching contract ending in Thailand. As much as I really enjoyed Thailand I felt that I wanted to learn a language that I could actually use. I was still in contract with my now boss, Andy. He was in Colombia and I met him my first time in Colombia. He had told me if I ever wanted a job back in Colombia there would be one for me. So I decided to take him up on his offer and move back to Colombia to learn Spanish. Another dot connected. After a short stay at home in Texas I moved to Bogota this April. He made good on his word right away and gave me a job and he also arranged a place for me to stay. So I had no major worries. I still had friends here from last time so life was good here. At first my Spanish was terrible and I was so frustrated at not being able to communicate the way I wanted. But, I kept learning more and more. I met my now good friend Sergio and he introduced me to a girl who I started to date right away. We dated for about a month but it didn't end up working out. Obviously after my break up I was depressed about it. I ended up meeting a Canadian who is driving truck from Canada to the bottom of South America! Mark is a great guy and we have had some great times. He convinced me to try this online dating website here in Colombia. I was pretty skeptical about the whole thing and didn't really want to do it but I decided to pay for one month and give it a try. The first girl I met off the dating site was Viviana. Right away I saw how beautiful she was and she was super nice. There was a problem though. She didn't speak any English! At the time my Spanish was terrible! She was also a single mother. So I thought at first our relationship would be impossible. I couldn't see a way that it could work. But, we really liked each other so we kept seeing each other. Slowly but surely my Spanish got better and I met her son and found out that he is a really nice kid and I really liked him. So everything that I thought would be a problem wasn't!

Fast forward to now. Viviana and I are very much in love. I enjoy my job here and I have a good life and soon Viviana and I will be married! I will be a step father and I am very excited. Thanks to Mark for convincing me to get on that dating website. Another dot connected. I found my love here in Colombia and a good life and it never would have happened had I not traveled to Colombia in the first place and then decided to come back. You never know how your life is going to work out. You never know what dots will be connected. Live your life as if everything will be connected. I have been so lucky in my life to see and do so many amazing things. I have been to over 15+ countries all before the age of 30! I am so blessed to have a very supportive family and friends. I really couldn't ask for much more. Soon I will have a beautiful wife and step son and in-laws. You never know how your life is going to work out. My life has taken so many exciting twist and turns,ups and downs since I left America in 2009 and now almost four years later I am excited to see what dots will connect in the future.

Yall take care,Tyler

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Movember is over!

Well today ends Movember (officially) but you can donate all year long! I want to thank all of my friends and family who donated to this worthy cause. I raised a grand total of 220 dollars! I really appreciate everyone and even if you didn't donate I do hope that in my little way I helped raise awareness for men's health issues. Thanks again and my face caterpillar will see you next year!-Tyler







Thursday, November 29, 2012

My biggest announcement of my life so far





I have some huge news for you my dear readers. But, before I get to that I want to let you know that I had a great time in Texas with my family and friends. I loved being home for Thanksgiving and eating all that good food. I was so happy to spend time with family I hadn't seen in quite a while and friends that I missed. I didn't do anything super amazing but just being able to relax and be with my friends and family was enough. We even got to skeet shoot and blow up pumpkins with an AR-15 at my uncle's farm. All in all I had a great time. For those of you that I missed I am sorry and next time I am home we will catch up for sure!

Also, thank you for all of you who donated to my Movember cause as the month is almost over now. Even if you didn't donate I do hope that I raised awareness about men's health issues. I have enjoyed having a mustache for a month and look forward to doing it again next year. Congrats to all my Mo Bros and Sis's. Thank you to Vivi for putting up with my mustache for a whole month haha.

Ok, now for the big news I know you have all been waiting for. I am engaged to be married! I proposed to Viviana last night and she accepted :) We have known for a while that we love each other and this love has only grown. We want to spend the rest of our lives together so I bought the rings in Texas and last night I popped the question and she said yes. I had a whole proposal plan worked out but I didn't get to do it. Vivi knew I had bought the rings (I was previously ring shopping here in Colombia) so last night she asked to see them. I asked her if she was sure that she really wanted to see them. She said yes so I showed her. At that point there was really no reason to go through with my proposal plan so I just asked her lol. She said it was no big deal that I didn't make a big deal out of it. It saved me time and money doing it this way :)

My original plan was to take her back to where we had our first date and have a cake made up that said "Will you marry me?" I wanted to have her whole family hiding and then come out after I asked her and everyone would eat cake. But looking back on that plan, the logistics of that were going to be really hard, she has a huge family!

So we are thrilled to be getting married and we love each other totally and completely. Now we are in the middle of wedding planning but when something new develops I will let yall know. For now its back to work and normal life for me. Yall take care,Tyler

P.S. My mustache wasn't great but it was passable :)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

I made it to Texas

I made it home safe and sound to Texas for a two week visit with my family. If you need anything or just want to get in touch, feel free to say hi to me here or on Facebook! -Tyler

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Texas

On Monday Nov. 12th (tomorrow) I will be in Texas for  a short 15 day visit with everyone back home. I am really happy to have Thanksgiving at home though and I have enough time to see and everyone and eat and do everything I want. I will be taking lots of pictures for everyone in Colombia and bringing back some gifts.

Yall take care and see you (in Texas) tomorrow night! :D -Tyler

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Friend's Webpages I like

So I decided to start a new section on my blog for friend's of mine who have websites that I can vouch for or like. The first is www.trutravels.com a website for travelers going to Thailand. My friend Joe runs a tour guiding company there and they give great guided tours. I will let their website speak for itself!

If you would like to be included in my blog section "Friend's Websites I like" or you just want a shout out on my blog, from me. Please contact me and if I know you and can vouch for you I am happy to do it or include your link on my blog.



Now for Joe, I have personally met him and can vouch for him. Both of us have extensive experience with the beautiful country of Thailand and I would seriously suggest a visit to Thailand so you really can't go wrong with that! without further ado, A little bit about Joe's Company: As well as picking you up from the airport and taking care of all the details, we will give you all of the advice and info you need before, during and after your tour. You are guaranteed to meet other travelers in the same situation and we can help you plan the rest of the trip to suit the preferences and time frames of you and your new travel buddies.

Our group leaders are on hand not just for the whole tour but for the duration of your travels and are always happy to hear from old group members when they re-visit the same countries or areas.
They will help you to discover the best bits of all of the places you visit and are there to ensure you have all the info and advice you need to have a truly amazing experience.

We love Thailand! Many conventional package tours are often put together by people who have never traveled in Thailand with only profit margins in mind and feature many locations that we personally wouldn't choose to visit. Many other backpacker tours are unnecessarily long, overpriced and take much of the freedom out of your experience. Our tour is intentionally kept short so that you can use it as an introduction to the country, as part of a shorter holiday, or with a combination of other tours. Don't get sold a rubbish, expensive package by a travel agent or big tour operator that does not know about what they are selling you.

Travel safely. Traveling in an unfamiliar country where you don't speak the language can be daunting and while Thailand is a very safe country on the whole, there are always risks and by traveling in a group you reduce some of these. By also having an experienced Group Leader with you who knows Thailand and the places we visit well, you will be much safer then you would be on your own.

Our TruThai Experience tour is the best value for money short tour on the market. All for 375 GBP! 

Tyler

Something Inspiring

I got this from a friend and thought you might like it: When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 Beers.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him.
When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls.
He then asked the students if the jar was full..

They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar He shook the jar lightly.
The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls.
He then asked the students again if the jar was full.

They agreed it was.
The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar.
Of course, the sand filled up everything else.
He asked once more if the jar was full.

The students responded with a unanimous 'yes.'

The professor then produced two Beers from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand.
The students laughed.
'Now,' said the professor as the laughter subsided, 'I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life.

The golf balls are the important things---your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions---and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car.

The sand is everything else---the small stuff.

'If you put the sand into the jar first,' he continued, 'there is no room for the pebbles or
golf balls.

The same goes for life.

If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.

Spend time with your children.

Spend time with your parents.

Visit with grandparents.

Take time to get medical checkups.

Take your spouse out to dinner.

Play another 18.

There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal.

Take care of the golf balls first---the things that really matter.

Set your priorities.

The rest is just sand.

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the Beer represented.

The professor smiled and said, 'I'm glad you asked.'

The Beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of Beers with a friend.



Hope you like it! I know I did -Tyler

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Movember Week One

Here is my week one Movember Progress Shot.

It is not much yet but it is getting there. Thank you all for your donations and remember if you want to donate you can do so until December, Here . My next progress shot will be next Thurs. Yall take care,Ty

Electoral College

Earlier I made a Facebook post about this so I thought I would expand on that and write this blog.  Keep in mind this is my opinion only. As everyone in the free world knows now, Obama is our President again. I am going to keep my personal politics out of the blog as much as possible, other than to say I am extremely frustrated with BOTH the Republicans AND the Democrats.  I am not living in America right now, so in reality none of this affects me in a huge way. But, I am still American by birth and blood and always will be. Our country is in a bad place right now. Economy wise,health care,housing market, and the list goes on. I think everyone deserves a share of the blame. First and foremost of course is the greedy,selfish executives on Wall Street who just care about profit and nothing else. Next up for blame is the politicians who are basically the same. 99% of the people in Washington DC no longer care about the people of America. They care about themselves and their agenda's only. Of course the average American also has to take some blame as well. As a whole Americans have been so complacent letting ourselves get into this mess and we just keep spending money we don't have and running around being the world police. 

America is changing with the times and our political system is not changing with it. America is now less white,freer thinking,gayer,more open minded, not everyone is a Christian,some people enjoy marijuana,prostitution,gay marriage and are open to abortion and gambling. Rather than trying so hard to prohibit all these things and fight so hard against them why not just relent and start making some money! We could responsibly regulate and tax many "sinful" things in America instead of fighting them. It would make it safer,more controlled and take the law of supply and demand away from Criminals. Our "War on Drugs" is a total failure. A consenting adult of sound mind and judgement, in my opinion should be allowed legally to be a gay pot smoking,gambling prostitute finding person if they so choose. As long as they are responsible,pay the proper amount of taxes and do these things legally and do not hurt anyone else while doing it.

My view may not be "mainstream" but I do think my view is gaining traction. Our government does not need to babysit us and control our entire lives. Adults are considered adults for a reason. They should be allowed to make their own choices. Gay marriage is not going to destroy the fabric of America. Canada and many other countries (including Colombia where I am living now) allow it and they are doing just fine. I do not do drugs of any kind but, if someone wants to smoke a little pot on their own personal time while doing no harm to anyone else and they pay for this pot legally I say go for it. Same goes for gambling and prostitution.

Which brings me to my next point. I am so happy to be from a country where we have the freedom to vote and to protest and worship any God we want without fear of being imprisoned or killed. I can say Obama sucks or Romney is a jerk and I do not have to fear for my life. We have no dictator, we are a democracy. Even if we are in a mess, I still believe America is the greatest country on Earth. But we need to make sure we stand up for these freedoms and don't take them for granted. Not every country in the world has these same freedoms and we need to be aware of that. The citizens should control the government NOT the other way around.

I am not sure how to feel about the Electoral College in America. On the one hand, every state gets representation in government.  Each state gets a chance to "pick" their candidate. But, large states like California and Texas (55 and 38 electors respectively) can wield large influence over a state such as Montana that only has 3 electors. The presidential race is not won by the popular vote (vote of the average Americans) but by the "electors". So in reality the popular vote does not matter. The average person's vote does not matter because the electors while "usually" they vote in line with the popular vote they are not FORCED too. On the other hand, if the election was based solely on the popular vote that would mean a state like Texas which has 30 million people (roughly) could all vote Republican and a state like Montana which has only a few million (if that) could vote another way and it wouldn't matter. Basically the larger states could greatly influence the election one way or the other. But, in a way they do that now with their large portion of the "electors".

Basically I am saying I love America. I am American but things need to change. I sure hope my kids do not have to grow up with all this mess. That is all. Thanks for letting me express myself. I am so lucky to be able to write this blog without having to fear for my life. Even with all its problems America is still my birth country and the country I love. -Tyler

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Weird Dreams

Recently I have been having a lot of strange dreams for some reason. Generally speaking I do not put much stock into the meaning of dreams. I think some dreams can and do have meaning but most are just products of an overactive imagination in my opinion. Well last night I had a dream that involved Steve Jobs. I never knew Steve Jobs personally but, since his death last year I have listened to many speeches of his and read many quotes from him. I have really come to respect him as a human being and a business man. It was truly a loss when he died. Yesterday I was not reading or thinking about him which makes this even more odd. Well here is it:

I was sitting in a classroom and there was a banner that said "Class of 1993" but this was some kind of college campus. I was my current age of 27 and I didn't look any different physically. Steve Jobs was the professor of this class and he was telling us all how "Nine years ago (1984, the year of my birth) Apple released the first truly personal computer (which is actually true) and he was telling us many thing about how he started Apple and Apple computers. There were many students in the class listening, just like any normal class around the world. Everything in the room was 1993-ish. The computers,the overhead projector, Everyone's clothes, the whole 9 yards. Except for one difference. Steve proceeded to reveal a new product to us in this classroom and everyone was all excited and they started taking pictures. But, they were using the very latest Iphone 5's to take these pictures! Which in 1993 were not even thought about.

After this, Steve started telling us about his life and how to better our lives. It became more of a motivational speech at this point. He said something in my dream very similar to what he has said in real life. He said " It is your right and your responsibility to live your life uniquely. Do not spend your life living someone else's reality. I remember how inspired I felt (in the dream) when he said this. But, at this point there was some college kids outside throwing rocks against the window and he stopped his speech and said "Those damn Russians again!" He then left the room to go chase down those kids. It was at this point, when he was out of the room I noticed a closet that was closed (but not locked) and it said "Restricted" everyone was sitting in their seats quietly but I got up out of my chair and I went to the "Restricted" door and opened it. I remember there was a very bright light and a long hallway. I started walking down this hallway but before I could get to the end he came back into in the classroom.

I was scared I was going to get in trouble so I ran back to my seat and everyone was looking at me. He then spoke to me directly. I was so scared he was going to be mad but he wasn't. He said "Tyler you are a rebel. You are a rule breaker and I like that. Don't lose that hunger." That was it. My dream ended after that.

I cannot make heads or tails of this dream at all. I did wake up feeling very inspired though. In a way I have been a rebel for the past few years. Traveling all over the world Solo, meeting new people doing and seeing new things. Not living inside any "box". I guess in a way I have been fulfilling his speech to me. I have been really happy over these past few years and I continue to be happy not being "normal". The only other thing I can piece together is about the Russians. Yesterday I was reading This Article  involving the Russians. What do yall think? do dreams mean anything?

Wild dream huh? Here's to you Steve. -Tyler

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Let Movember Commence!

Let Movember Commence! I will now grow my mustache throughout the month of November for the Movember Charity!

Remember, you can donate until December Here . Take care and happy November,Tyler

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Readers Choice Blog

This blog is going to be all about topics chosen by my dear readers in my unofficial facebook poll. First off people in Colombia do have tattoos. Not as many as back home in America (this is a predominantly Catholic country and social taboos still very much exist) but yes people here do have tattoos. Obviously any written words would be written in Spanish and the date format is day,month,year instead of our familiar month,day,year . So that is big difference. As far as I can tell most tattoo shops here are reputable,clean and sterile just as most are back home. But, just as in the United States, you get what you pay for.

For my next question I want to address life and love in Colombia. People here are just like people all over the world. They fall in love, they have babies,they get married and they get divorced. The only thing that is different is the language that is spoken and some of the dating traditions. But, I am living proof that a white guy from America can love a Colombian girl. Sure we have a language barrier and cultural differences which makes it a bit harder but we make it work! Not every girl in this country is a money grubbing visa wanting gold digger. My girlfriend is the opposite of all those things. There is a certain reputation that when a Colombian girl dates a white guy she wants something out of the relationship besides just a relationship. Sometimes that is true but not always, as in my case. I am one lucky man.

In many ways life here is different from back home. But, in many ways it is the same. Obviously on a daily basis I speak Spanish instead of English. My girlfriend speaks very little English so it has improved my Spanish greatly. I live in a normal house here,I pay rent and I eat normal food. Colombia is a 3rd world country but it is not like I am 100 years behind America. There is a huge public transportation system here. Air pollution is a bad a problem here as is littering. Most things are cheaper here than they are in The States. The Iphone and high end electronics are NOT cheaper here and they are easily and constantly stolen. Hence my reason for not having one. If you want to spend money in this country you can. I can go out and get lunch for 2 to 3 dollars (a pretty decent lunch I might add) or I can go and spend 50 dollars or more. It is all relative.

There is good food in Colombia. Many many different soups and breakfast items. Things you would find back home such as eggs and bread for breakfast. But, Colombians tend to shy away from spices so they food can be bland sometimes. They love plain white rice with no gravy or sauces of any kind. You will almost always find it with any meal that is not a breakfast meal. I on the other hand cannot stand just dry rice so I always use my soup to wet it or whatever else I have. Colombians also LOVE salt and but not pepper. You will always find salt on any table but almost never pepper. Even if you ask for it, it is rarely available and you will get odd looks. They do have things that we do not have back home such as The Tamal. (Similar to a Mexican Tamale but not the same) It is basically a corn based mushy food with veggies and chicken mixed inside. Be careful they do NOT de-bone the chicken inside. It is then wrapped up inside green banana leafs and cooked. It is one of my favorite meals. As is Banda Hapaisa (spelling uncertain lol) Which consists of beans,meat,rice, a hard piece of fried fat (sounds gross but it isnt) and a slice of what we would call Avocado. Colombians also love their fresh fruit and fruit juice. You will always find them both available and cheap. I do worry about the collective cholesterol in this country. But, luckily for me there is not many Vegetarians :D

The money here comes in denominations of 1000,2000,5000,10,000,20,000 and 50,000 peso notes (there is roughly 2000 pesos in one USD (US Dollar). The coinage is 50,100,200,500 piece coins. They do have a fairly big problem with fake money being passed around here. (Although I have been told multiple times and their money is the most easily detectable money in the world) detectable for fraud anyway. In fact just the other day I got passed a 50,000 and 20,000 peso notes that were fake and I did not know it but I certainly know how to detect it now!

Colombians are average and not super big people both in height and in weight. In fact my shoe size (10 to 11 in American sizes) is the largest you can buy in Colombia without going to a specialty store. There are many many cheap shoes sold on the street here but they are never in my size so I have to go buy expensive imported Nike's or something like that. Colombia as in Thailand or any 3rd world country has a huge "informal economy". What I mean by that is many many goods (both real and counterfeit) are sold on the street for cheap prices. Pretty much anything you could want is available on the street for a fraction of the cost. (Although quality can be questionable). They even have people here "Minute men (and women) who will let you use their phones for a small charge per minute and talk as long as you want to whoever you want. This is just something that is not done back home. They are always full of all the local gossip. I have heard the police even go to the Minute Men to help solve crimes!

Gringos (White guys and girls) such as myself are generally treated with respect here in Colombia. Because there is not that many of us (Colombia is slowly gaining tourism but still has that nasty reputation from 20 years ago) 99% of people here have been nothing but helpful and friendly to me even when my Spanish is not perfect but of course there is that 1% that resents white people in this country. My life has been slightly difficult learning a new language and culture but overall pretty good! Of course security is always a concern but it is anywhere! Realistically these days the worst thing I have to worry about is general robbery which I would have to worry about anywhere. The major killings and kidnappings have dropped drastically. For someone visiting here for the very first time never have left America this country may be a bit of a shock. But, for seasoned travelers this country has very much to offer!

I hope I have answered all the questions asked of me. If you have anymore please ask! take care,Tyler

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Protest of Facebook

I am just letting yall know that one week from today (October 27th) I will be deactivating my facebook fan page. My blog here will stay completely active but facebook has been misleading people who have "fan pages" and not allowing all 142 people who "liked" my page to see my updates! Everyone who has "liked" my page can see my updates if I pay facebook to "promote" my page.

I feel this is totally unfair and wrong so on Saturday Nov 3rd I will no longer be updating my facebook fan page. You can read more about my reasoning click here . For years now I have put up with all the different changes Facebook has made even if I did not like them because facebook is how I communicate with my friends from around the world. But, I refuse to put up with greedy money grabbing scheme.

I am just letting yall know but please feel free to continue to visit my blog at www.travelingwithtyler.com -Tyler

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Russians and my Blog

I don't have much of an update for you right now. But, no news is good news as they say. My life is just pretty good right now. Work is still going good (even if I could use a few more hours at work) I have a roof over my head,food in my stomach and no big complaints. Living here in Colombia sure is different in many ways to living back in America but, in many ways it is the same as well. I can get (most) things here that I can get back home. The big exceptions are Dr. Pepper and Shiner Bock. I really miss those.

My relationship is still going great. Vivi and I really "get" each other and it just works. 98% of the time we can understand each other even with the language barrier. 1% of the time we have to use Google Translate and the other 1% we just flat out don't understand each other. But I would say a 98% success rate is pretty good! Our culture's are different but I am learning how things work here and my Spanish is improving. Her family is great and we are very happy together. Luckily I also have a great relationship with her son Juan so relationship wise things are just really great. It is the first time in many years that I can say I have a normal,healthy strong long lasting relationship and things are just working!

What else can I tell you? I have become pretty domestic lately, no crazy travels, not seeing anything amazing or doing anything unusual but I sure am happy. I had a great run with my travels and saw and did many amazing things. Now I consider myself semi retired (but not forever!) Vivi and I should both be working more hours soon and we are apartment shopping for around December. I am just happy :) There is one unusual thing I did want to mention. The Russians. For some reason I get quite a bit of viewership and traffic from Russians and Russian related websites. This is odd because I only personally know two Russians (both good guys)  but I find it amusing and interesting. Well if Russians like my blog that is great! I love to have readers from all over the world.

Please remember to check out my Movember page and donate to my charity if you can! Click here to donate  take care til next time,Tyler

Monday, October 15, 2012

Compassion

I had planned to write a little "update" blog on myself but to be honest lately I have not had too many new things in my life to speak of. Everything is still just peachy and trucking along. Then something else came up that I wanted to write about. Compassion. Human compassion for each other. Compassion is such a simple thing that I think we sometimes take for granted.  Compassion is so logical, so inherently human that I think we don't even think about it sometimes. But, it is very true that not everyone has it. Everyone really should. You should be compassionate to your fellow humans always but that is not always the case.

A friend of mine who I met in New Zealand is from India and he now lives back in India. He told a story to me about a friend of his. Her father recently died because he was hit by a car and it was a hit and run, the driver drove off. That is bad enough but it gets much worse. The way he told the story to me is that her father laying gravely injured on the side of the street and for a long time no one bothered to call emergency services and just left him there. Once someone finally did call for help the ambulance arrived with no enough fuel to get him to the hospital so he had to wait for them to refuel. After that, they made the trip to the hospital but as some of you may or may not know India has a "Caste" system. You are put into a social "caste" or level based on your income,where you live and your family. Well apparently only certain doctors can treat certain caste levels in India. There was no one on duty for his caste so he ended up dying before they could transfer him to the appropriate hospital. 

I am by no means singling out India. These things happen all over the world in every country all the time. I read about a story in China where a little girl was hit by a car and she ended up dying because no one would help her as she lay there in the street. I guess everyone thought "someone else will help" and then no one did. In 2012 things like this should not happen. Compassion should be a value for all humanity, all races,cultures,countries and social classes. How can humanity survive if we do not even have the basic value of human compassion for one another? It is such a simple thing to help others when they need help and show love and equality to every person regardless of race,culture or social class. Yet there are many people in this world who refuse to be compassionate to someone else because they are "different" from them.

I know I went on a little rant here but it just sickens me that a man died when he did not have too. He died because of a lack of compassion. Such an easy simple thing yet he still died. I did not even know this man yet I feel horrible as a fellow human that this had to happen in 2012. My plea to all of you reading this is that you have compassion for others. Regardless of their circumstances or if they are different from you. Compassion makes the world go round. Help make this world a better place, one compassionate act at a time. -Tyler

Friday, October 05, 2012

Viviana

As most of you know by now I am dating a wonderful,caring,sweet and beautiful Colombian girl named Viviana. I have told you in bits and pieces about our relationship but I think now it is time to give you all the "full story" she is a very important part of my life and I want to share my happiness with yall. For a very brief period of time when I first arrived to Colombia I was dating another Colombian girl but that relationship did not last long at all, we were just not a good fit. After my break up I was obviously pretty depressed about things. My friend suggested that I check out a Colombian online dating service that matches white guys with Colombian women.



I was pretty skeptical about the whole thing figuring it was just a scam for money or just girls looking for citizenship to America. My friend had success with this website though. He went on many successful dates, although he is in "traveling mode" and not living in Colombia long term like me. After a lot of thought I decided to give Latin Cupid a shot. Click here I sent out messages to different girls but never really got anywhere to speak of with it. Then I noticed Viviana's picture. I immediately was immensely attracted to her and wanted to get to know her. I sent her a message in Spanish (using Google translate) because at the time my Spanish was horrible.

We arranged to meet up at a local shopping mall for coffee and I was so nervous because it said in her profile that she did not speak any English and she was a single mother of a seven year old! I thought to myself at first that this could never work it would be too hard. As soon as I met her though I changed my mind though. Even though my Spanish was terrible conversation flowed easily and I loved her smile and her personality. She was upfront and honest with me and told me that she was not looking for something casual because of her son Juan. Since she was a mother I couldn't just float in and out of their lives. I had to commit. So I had to think seriously about this but I decided even though we did not speak the same language, our cultures were different and she was a single mom, that I was going to give this a shot! I am so glad I did!

She has had it rough relationship wise with guys not even wanting to give her a chance because she is a single mom and things have not been easy for her but I decided I wanted to be different. It was a big new challenge for me taking on a new girlfriend and a child as well. There was a few bumps in the road especially at first in our relationship but the more time I spent with her the more I realised that I really did want to be with her and none of the things I thought would be "big issues" such as the language barrier really were big issues at all.

As time has gone on my Spanish has improved very much! I am by no means fluent but I know MUCH more now than I did six months ago because she does not speak any English. She is very patient with my language screw ups and all my questions and she is a great guesser about what I want to say even if I don't say it correctly or I have to awkwardly describe what I want to say. She is a great teacher without me ever taking a single Spanish lesson (yet)  We do have cultural differences because Latin culture is much different than American culture. We do have miscommunications with the language barrier sometimes (less than you would imagine though) and we have misunderstandings with the different cultures. I am slowly learning how to do things the "Colombian Way" and this has caused us a few fights. We are a normal couple we do fight now and again.

The difference between this and most of my previous relationships is that Viviana and I are always will to talk honestly and openly and discuss our issues and work it out. We may get angry at each other or misunderstand each other but we do not stay angry. She accepts me for whole I am. For all of my imperfections and issues and I do the exact same for her. She is always by my side to support me or help me out with anything I need. I always try to do the same for her. She has been my nurse, my friend, my translator (Yes she translate other people's Spanish into "our" Spanish because I seem to understand her better than anyone else) and my girlfriend.

I was really nervous at first about how I would get along with her family especially with the language barrier but on our very first date she invited to a birthday party of a mutual friend and her whole family was there! I got to meet everyone right away and everyone was so nice to me. Putting up with my terrible Spanish and understanding that I am a total gringo. They made me feel relaxed and at home. She has a large extended family with quite a few people living in her house with her.  But I like each and every one of them. As time has passed I have only gotten even closer to her family and like them all very much. I am very happy to know that her son Juan and I seem to get along great. It has been very important to me to be a positive influence in his life and he is your average seven year old He is a good kid and I like him a lot. He is a good friend of mine and I enjoy spending time with him and playing games like Wii and Jenga.



Viviana and I have been dating long enough now that the "rose colored glasses" are off. We know just about everything about each other and we realize that we are not perfect. We both have our issues and we accept that about each other and don't let it cause too many problems. She hates that I crack my knuckles. I hate that she chews on her fingernails. We annoy each other sometimes but still we stay together.

 Te Amo Para Siempre Vivi. (For you English Speakers that is I love you in Spanish). Vivi is a great person, a wonderful mother and the best girlfriend I could ask for. In the past I have tended to jump into relationships head first so to speak but this time is different. It is the real deal and our feelings are totally mutual.  It has been great so far and I can't wait to see what's next. -Tyler

Just a little "P.S." for all your skeptics out there. Online relationships do not work all the time but we are living proof that they can and do work! :) Also, a big huge thank you to my friend Mark who convinced me to go to the website in the first place, and to my family and friends for the support.


Monday, October 01, 2012

This is my 300th blog post! (It is about Movember!)

Well this is big milestone for me! After 3 years of blogging and over 10,000 pages views I now have 300 blog posts! I had planned to make this a huge epic blog post about something amazing. Instead I will make it a short blog post about something important to me. In November I am participating in Movember, the annual global event to support Men's Health Issues. They do not get the equal recognition to say breast cancer or other women's health issues. I am doing my part to help out and I will be growing a mustache for the whole month of November. You can support me and my mustache by donating to this worthy cause. Here is my link for donation. Click here .  (Click the link, then "Donate to me". Well that is all I have. I hope yall have a great day and thanks for taking a look at my donation link. -Tyler

Friday, September 28, 2012

Will the real Colombian health care please stand up?

Now that I officially have "real" Colombian healthcare (EPS) I wanted to write this blog. Here in Colombia there is roughly 48 million people and there is not many social problems like unemployment insurance,social security etc. But, they do have socialized healthcare for everyone. A system very similar to Canada or England I would assume. I now have personal experience with this health care system. There is long waiting times and the government provided healthcare moves for slow. That is true and is a fact. Now for the upside.

The upside is that EVERYONE has healthcare. You do pay a very small monthly premium but when you go into the doctor,hospital,dentist, eye doctor or other medical facility pay basically $1.25 USD (Yes you read that right, it is a dollar twenty-five)except in very special cases. A few days ago I went to the doctor and paid my $1.25 then after waiting quite a while I had my physical exam and the doctor was very nice and actually spoke English. I really got the feeling he cared about me as a patient and he said I am totally healthy except that I am underweight due to my previous tonsillitis I have lost quite a bit of weight. Eating and eating will solve that he said. He did order a urine sample and a blood test just to make sure everything was totally fine. Then I went and paid $1.25 for my medicine.

I assumed I would do all that the same day but I was wrong. I had to pay another $1.25 and make yet another appointment to get those tests done on another day. I also had to buy my own urine sample cup and do it at home and bring my own urine in the cup that I bought (for a quarter) to the doctor! Can you believe that?! haha. When they drew my blood it was all sanitary and clean and they did use new needles. No worries there. But, it was like an assembly line! Everyone was lined up in a line, got your stick in the arm, then the next person, and next, and next. Government efficiency lol. I didn't even get a bandaid! Just a giant cotton ball haha. Also, all the workers were dressed in full "splatter gear" like they expected blood to be everywhere haha.

I also went to a brain doctor to make sure my shunt was working properly but I had scheduled this appointment before I had received my government covered insurance (EPS) so I had to pay the outrageous fee of $20 USD :P. Everything was good there also. Luckily I had my beautiful girlfriend Vivi there to help me out. My Spanish is pretty decent at this point but, I still get tripped up with complicated stuff and the doctor spoke only Spanish. Vivi by now knows my body just as well as I know it so she can rattle off everything faster than I ever could. I had four female medical students in there also. I guess it is pretty rare that they get a "gringo" brain to look at. 

The dentist was a totally different story. After I paid my $1.25 I went back to wait. This time I was alone as Vivi had an interview. They were 30 minutes late in calling my name and when I finally got in there I found out that the dentist had a REALLY hard accent to understand. Communication was really difficult for me. The "cleaning" was quite quick and really basic. I had to hold the mirror the whole time and there was not many powered instruments. Most of it was done manually by hand. I was not too impressed by it. She did say what I assume? was that I have my first "very small" (her words) cavity in my life! She wants to see me again and charge me yet another $1.25. Well if I really do have small cavity at least I can get it all taken care of on the cheap.

In Conclusion, Colombian National Healthcare is pretty good, I have not been overly disappointed but there is long waiting times and you have to keep coming back over and over and getting more and more appointments. But, on the brightside each time it is just a $1.25. I cannot complain too much about that. Yall take care and I hope this was informative. -Tyler

Just something I liked

I just wanted to blog this real quick and share a story with yall. I did not write this story so I cannot take credit for any of it. I did like it though so I wanted to share it. Hope you enjoy. Click Here  To all my dear readers all over the world, I hope you have a great Friday and an even better weekend! Stay happy and healthy and remember, Your life is what you make of it! -Tyler

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The life of a normal person

I felt compelled to tell you my dear readers, a little more about my life. Prior to moving here to Colombia I was in "traveling mode" even while I was living in Thailand and teaching there I was constantly traveling (when time allowed) and I was living in one fixed place there but mentally I was not "settled". Prior to Thailand I spent two years of my life living,working and traveling all over Australia and New Zealand with a short visit to Asia and after that a visit here to South America. During this period in my life I was working and doing "normal" things but mostly just living free as a period without attachments and just moving from place to place with friends. (Here is your shout out Ben) I really had a great time and loved life. I got to see and do things that most people don't get the chance to do in their entire lives, all before the age of 30. Sure I was happy but there was no real stability in my life.

As much as I loved traveling and still do I think eventually everyone has to settle down. The world is a big wonderful place to explore and there is so much to see and do, people to meet and places to go. It is addicting and amazing. But, the longer you travel without stopping to form natural long lasting human relationships aka dating and/or marriage the harder it gets to make that happen. There is a quote from one of my favourite movies, Inception " Take a leap of faith? Or become an old man , filled with regret, waiting to die alone". Going traveling all over the world for over 2 years (at first completely solo) was my leap of faith. It was scary and something totally new for me. At first I didn't know if I could do it but I am so glad that I did, it changed my life!

Having said that I realize now that I do not want to die an old man alone so I need to start settling down. I am so glad I traveled to Colombia previously and was able to fall in love with this beautiful interesting country. Because I had the opportunity and motivation to return here. I am very lucky for this because now I have an amazing beautiful girlfriend who I care very much for. My life is no longer unstable and free as a bird. It has gotten domestic and "normal" I do things now that most "normal" people do. But you know what? I am not unhappy at all. In fact I am very happy with my life. I consider myself semi retired now. I don't think that I will never travel again in my whole life. I love traveling and always will. But, my next travels will be different. They will be shorter and maybe with a family in tow. 

I regret nothing. I had great times traveling and will continue to have good times in life. But, now that I am almost 30 it is just the time in my life where I need to start getting serious about my future life. I am happy to say now that I have direction in my life and happiness and a partner. All of these things make me happy. Without traveling I never would have found any of this though. So I am very grateful to myself and to all the people who helped me along the way and opened the doors for me to have the awesome life I have now. I could never begin to thank each person who helped me along the way but thank you to all my friends and great family who have supported me.

Yall take care,Tyler

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Valentine's Day

Yesterday was Colombia's version of Valentine's Day. (Official name is Dia de Amor y Amistad) (Day of love and friendship) obviously this is not February so the month is different but really the concept is basically the same as the American Valentines Day. I took Vivi to a nice restaurant and got her some flowers. For those of you wanting to visit Colombia you need to click here  for a great dinner date! It was our night out with no kids and no family just us, and it was really nice.

After dinner we went dancing and met up with some of Vivi's friends for more good times. I really enjoyed myself even if I am still a terrible dancer haha. The rest of the update is going to be pretty domestic. Right now my life is not super exciting but I really am happy. Generally I go to work and then go to see Vivi and Juan. Yesterday I played a lot of Wii with Juan and now he created me my very own character in his Wii I was honored hehe.

I am really changing my lifestyle due to my relationship but we are very happy. She is great and so is Juan. I enjoy being around both of them. Juan is your average 7 year old. He seems to gain energy as I lose it haha. I need to get in better shape so I can keep up with him! I just enjoying hanging out with him and playing games and stuff. He is a good kid. My relationship with Vivi is still going great and I could not ask for much more.

Life is not perfect of course (but is it ever?) I have a pretty good job, a place to live,food in my belly, fairly good health and a great girlfriend. My life might be more settled down now but I wouldn't change anything! That's all I have for ya now. :) -Ty

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Living to be 100

 Do ever think about what it will be like if you live to be 100? I do. In reality based on my current life style I doubt I will live that long. But, I am in the process of making healthier changes in my life. I don't smoke, I only drink on occasion and I am not overweight but, I don't exercise near as much as I should and my diet is not so great. Those are big strikes against me as far as making it to 100.  I have always said that I only want to live until I can no longer take care myself. Once that day comes I want my life to be over. I do not want to be a burden to my family and have a terrible quality of life, just waiting to die and not enjoying life. I also have no desire to be kept alive artificially if something were to happen to me. Lastly, I want to be buried in a bio degradable coffin.

All of this morbid death talk is leading up to my next point so bear with me please. I wonder what it will be like if I live to be 100 because I wonder what people will say about my life? What will I have accomplished in a century on earth? What will I leave behind? Will I be happy and satisfied with my life? I certainly hope the answer to all these questions is a positive one. Someone who is 100 now was born in 1912 the year the Titanic sank. They have seen the rise of the automobile, the rise of global air travel, two world wars, the "technology age" and much much more. I wonder what I will have seen in 100 years? The only major thing to happen in my lifetime so far, is the rise of the Internet and technology "wiring and connecting" everyone and everything. I still remember like before the Internet contrary to kids these days who have had it their entire lives. Secondly, September 11th was a huge event in my life (and almost every other person as well).

I wonder what people will say about my life at 100? Will they be amazed that I lived so long and did so much? I am fairly certain there will be some major technological advancement so people will say "Wow! Tyler was alive before X! Somehow I doubt that any advances they make in technology will be as big or game changing as seeing the rise of cars and global air travel though. This really is a helluva time to be an old person having seen so many changes for the good and for the bad in 100 years.

Yall take care,Tyler

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Customer Service in non first world countries

I wanted to talk to yall about customer service in non first world countries. For those of you who don't know, generally speaking a "first world country" is America,Canada,England,(and most of developed Europe) Australia (and most of the British Commonwealth) so a "non first world country" would be most of Asia,Africa and South America. The concept of customer service is just different here. It is by no means limited to Colombia. The mind set is just different.

For example, today I went to a computer shop to have a document scanned and loaded onto my 14gb USB Drive. Well everything was going smoothly until the computer that the person at the shop was using just randomly restarted. It was no fault of the employee's she didn't do it on purpose. But, since my USB drive was plugged in at the time I lost all my documents and data for work and teaching. It is now corrupted and non functioning.

Their attitude was basically that it was an act of God and there was nothing they could do for me. I am going to go back there tomorrow and try and talk to them again but their attitude was very typical. Generally speaking when something bad happens to you in a non first world country you are on your own and left to fend for yourself. This is not always the case and there is some people who go out of their way to fix your problems but generally speaking they do not compensate you in anyway for problems you might have.

I didn't get my money back for the failed scan of my document nor did I get any kind of compensation for my now broken USB drive. It was no fault of my own yet I am left high and dry. In a first world country this would not be the case at all, I would be compensated in some way for sure. It is just different cultures and attitudes though.When my good friend and travel buddy, Ben and I were traveling to Lima Peru our bus broke down 1 hour outside of Lima and we were told to get off the bus and find our own way into Lima. We were not offered any kind of refund or assistance by the bus driver or the company and this is normal. You just learn to deal with it.

I know this blog might sound like I just complaining (and in a way I am) but I really just want to give you, my readers a realistic view of life here. Just like anywhere there is great things about Colombia (and 3rd world countries in general) but there is also crappy stuff and this is one of those times. Maybe we are pampered in the first world countries or maybe we just have a different view of acceptable levels of customer service.  Yall have a good weekend (hopefully better than mine haha) -Tyler

Friday, August 31, 2012

Time Lapse Video of Colombia

This is just a really cool video I found from my friends at SeeColombiaTravel  .  Click Here for the video.

Yall take care and hope you enjoy a little taste of the beauty of Colombia. -Tyler

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

10 things about me

1. I was born 3 months premature

2. I have visited over 15 countries and worked in 4 of them all before age 30 ?I have also been to 5 of the 7 continents.

3. I have had a photograph I took in high school, displayed in the Texas State Capitol (not permanently)

4. I have lived for 3 weeks on a remote Fijian Island with no electricity or running water as part of an eco project and loved every minute of it!

5. In Auckland New Zealand I worked on the railroads and helped construct a bank building. I also worked in the rigging crew on a concert tour for a band that is now International Click Here

6. I have seen 2 world wonders (and counting)

7. I have taught English in 2 very different countries

8. I have skydived,bungee jumped,canyon swinged,hang glided, hiked a glacier and more all to conquer my fear of heights and it worked!

9. I have loved and lost and failed many times in life. But, I have also learned to look at the positive side of life!

10. I have the best family and friends (all over the world) anyone could ask for. I also have an amazing girlfriend who thinks she is the lucky one but really it is me :D

Yall take care. Hope you enjoyed getting to know me a little better. -Tyler

Monday, August 27, 2012

My 5 regrets of the dying video post.

Today I uploaded another video blog, referencing the post I did about the 5 regrets of the dying. Once again I give all credit for the actual list to it's author Click here to read. Yall take care and I hope you enjoyed my previous post and this video.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Pablo Escobar

Some of my readers may know of Pablo Escobar and some may not, Click here for more info. Just a little background on this post on mine, Pablo Escobar was a Colombian drug lord from the 1970's until his death in 1993. Here in Colombia (at least in some parts of the country) he has achieved a certain mythological status. Especially in Medellin (the large city where he based his drug cartel out of). Some people called him the Robin Hood of Colombia because he was at one point one of the richest men in the world, worth over 3 billion dollars! He donated a lot of money to local communities and to Medellin because he wanted to foster good will among the people. He was especially popular among the poor people of Colombia and many of them actually aided and abetted in hiding him from the authorities. At the height of his power he controlled 80% of the cocaine traffic flowing out of Colombia.

As much as he wanted to portray himself as a nice law abiding citizen, from everything I have read he was not. He offered a bounty of over 500 dollars USD to anyone who could/would kill a policeman. Apparently over 600 police officers died as a result of his bounty. He had many many people murdered who got in his way. At the height of his power not only did he control the drug trade he also controlled the government. He had a short stint in politics and from what I understand the only things he got accomplished were things to benefit him and his illegal business. For example, he made sure that the Colombian government had a law on the books prohibited extradition so he could not be sent to any other country to serve any jail time.

He owned a very large ranch in Medellin Colombia nicknamed "Hacienda Naples" and on this ranch he basically had his own private zoo. He had animals from all over Africa and many many luxuries that most Colombians could only dream of. After his death the Colombia government had no idea what to do with all these exotic animals so they shipped some off to zoos and such but Pablo imported non native Hippopotamus's into his ranch. By the time of his death these hippo's had breeded and become feral. No one knew what to do with them or wanted to mess with these huge animals so they remain there even today. They are tourist attractions and known as the "Cocaine Hippo's".

He was put in prison in Colombia for drug related crimes but it was not just any prison. He had so much influence that he had a special prison built just for him, complete with a soccer field,a swimming pool and a luxury "jail cell" plus more all for him. He was to serve five years there but, he also had the option to choose who was to guard him so after 1 year and a bit he just walked out of the prison and didn't return. He was finally killed in a raid in 1993 and even though it has been almost 20 years he still has supporters.

He was involved in government as I said so not only did his drug cartel control the drug trade they started to control the government as well. One man and his cartel had the power to cripple an entire government. As recently as a few weeks ago some big shot military/government person was put on trial actually in the USA I think for having ties to Pablo's drug cartel (Which is weakened now but still exists). Also, in 1994 an up and coming soccer star was killed after the 1994 world cup because he (accidently) deflected a ball off his leg and scored into his own goal (thereby losing the game for Colombia) allegedly the people who killed him had ties to Pablo's drug Cartel. Now on Colombian TV there is a show all about Pablo Escobar, it glamorizes his lifestyle a little bit but it is a fairly good show.

Well now you know, all I know about Pablo Escobar. But just to dispel the stereotypes some of you may have of Colombia, in the 1980's-early 2000's the murder rate was very high in the country. It was one of the most dangerous countries in the world and the drug crimes were very bad. But, things have really improved! Drugs are certainly still around but they are NOT on every street corner anymore and (knock on wood) I have not had a single problem with violence here. Things have really improved in this country now and if I am not wrong it has fallen out of the top 10 most dangerous countries in the world and I really enjoy my life here! Drugs and crime will never totally go away but in the past decade and a bit Colombia has done a great job about improving things in this country. Lets hope that in the future there will be less men like Pablo Escobar.

Yall take care,Tyler

Friday, August 24, 2012

Colombian Bus Etiquette

Today I am going to discuss the various intricacies of Colombian Bus Etiquette. For new people here in this country it can be complicated and confusing sometimes! Most  people are really nice on the buses. But, some people are rude just like anywhere. When you want to enter a colectivo all you do is wave your hand and they will (usually) stop for you. Sometimes they just drive right past me and it is frustrating when I need to get to work! Sometimes they have a special seat next to the driver up front, but the only people who get to sit there is pretty girls. (seriously, the drivers don't allow anyone else!) They are usually over crowded but they get me where I need to go even if I have to put up with the over crowded-ness and people constantly trying to sell me things on the colectivos. These buses are like mini buses. They are not as big as the Tranmelnio Buses (Metro) buses. They hold about 25 people sitting and 15 people standing (comfortably that is) of course this number is almost never achieved because the drivers make about 75 cents USD per passenger. Hence, it is their goal to pack on as many people as humanly possible to increase their profit margin. I have been on buses with more than 60 people crammed shoulder to shoulder! Barely any room to breathe and/or move!

 Generally speaking people are nice and they will even pass your pass fare from the back to front of the bus to pay the bus driver and then pass back your change. Some people will even hold your bags for you (if they are lucky enough to have a seat and you don't) These Colectivos have one "stop" button generally located at the very back of the bus (you enter from the front and exit from the back generally) so it is in your best interest to try and get a seat as soon as possible at the back of the bus closest to the button. If you are unlucky enough to have to stand you just hold onto the handrail and wait until someone leaves the bus so you can sit down. Sometimes I never get to sit down. Colombians have the odd habits of NEVER moving over when you want to sit in a seat so you have to crawl over them and also they have a phobia about sitting down in a newly unoccupied seat they will just hover over it for five minutes! I have no such phobia haha. I will admit though, the longer I live here the more I am becoming like them. Sometimes I don't even move over and force the poor person to crawl over me.

On the colectivos all over South America they have this odd system of people boarding the bus (for free) and trying to sell you things. In exchange for letting the person on for free, the driver gets whatever they might be selling for free. The person boards the bus and begins his/her spiel about what they are selling. With the woman sellers it is quick,polite and to the point. Generally with the men it is long elaborate, sometimes pushy and boring. I have never once purchased anything from any of these sellers. They will hand out their product so you can look at it then you return it if you don't want it. I always refuse to even initially accept it so I don't have any obligation to buy it. Sometimes you can be on a bus and be hit by two or three of these "salesman" in a row. It is really annoying when you just want some peace and quiet after work. These buses depending on the amount of passengers and the insanity level of the driver can be really fast or really slow. But worse than the salespeople is the people who board the bus for free to beg for money while offering nothing or people who want to showcase their musical talents. The rappers are the most annoying because I am not a huge fan of rap music and in Spanish it is worse. I have only given money twice, both times to different guys playing the guitar who were actually really good and had good voices. I still have not figured out why the bus drivers allow these people on the bus for free while getting nothing in return.

As overcrowded and crazy as some of these buses can be, speeding all over the city (there is no designated "stops" they will stop anytime,anywhere someone pushes the "stop" button (Even in the middle of traffic!) these buses do have to be properly registered with the government and there is a phone number you can call if you need to complain. Every bus I have ever been on has proper emergency exits and while these are certainly not the safest mode of transport in the world they are super cheap and get me where I need to go. There is no map or proper system for the colectivos. They just have their destinations printed on the outside and you just have to learn which ones go where and where you need to go. There is thousands of Colectivos and different routes so it can be confusing but, once you learn the city it does get easier. Bogota is only smaller than Mexico city and New York (in North America) so this is an epically large city!

Now onto the Transmelnio (Metro buses) these are very large red buses that go thru-out the city (but not everywhere unfortunately) these buses stop and designated stops at designated times. They hold (I think) 112 people standing and 48 sitting. Of course there is always double or triple that amount of people on the buses. Peak hours are the beginning of work in the morning and the end of work in the afternoon. People are generally nice on these buses and will give up their seats for old people,pregnant women etc but you have to be like a hawk if you want a seat! You have to literally stand in the aisle directly in front of a seat and when that person leaves you sit down immediately. If you are not standing directly in front of the seat someone will cut in front of you and sit down in the seat you want. It is a ruthless world. But these buses are roughly 1 USD per ride (actually a little less) and they are on time,efficient and nice. It just sucks that they don't go everywhere and they are planning (but have no yet done it) to unify the whole Metro bus system so depending on what part of the city you are in, you need a different ridership card that sucks. Also their onloading/offloading procedures are horrible! You enter the bus station thru your typical turnstile type thing but the people exiting the station to leave, they use the same turnstiles! So it is a huge mess of people. Same story for enter/exiting the bus everyone just rushes at it and it is a huge mess! But, overall the Transmelinio is a good system. They have their own traffic lanes and are fast and on time. Really progressive and good for Colombia.

That's it folks now you now all the ins and outs of the bus systems in Colombia. I am a pro by now haha. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

More Spanish

Click Here

Click Here

 I was just going to write about how my Spanish has improved and talk a little more about that but, I ran across the two above articles and I just had to mention this insanity! The first link is about a woman who is suing the Dallas Cowboys (professional American football team) because she was sitting on a black bench that got so hot she got 3rd degree burns on her butt. That idiotic woman sat there for so long dreamed up her dumb lawsuit! She is claiming there was no "warning signs" that the bench could be hot when it was 100 degrees F/40 degrees C! If she wins any money at all I will be very very sad. If it was so hot she should have moved.

The second link is about a woman in California who is suing for 1.2 BILLION dollars because she claims the new "smart" parking meters that allow you to use credit cards or wireless (with your phone) pay for parking is making her sick. She claims the "wireless signals" are getting her sick. If either of these moronic women win any money at all I will never be moving back to America! I can't believe that stupidity like this even clogs up our court systems :(

Ok onto my actual blog topic now haha.  I have been learning more and more Spanish lately since Vivi doesn't speak English to me. It has been challenging dating someone who doesn't speak my language but it really is the best way to improve in your target language! We have our fair share of difficulties but it is not as hard to communicate as you might think. I am by no means fluent but I sure have improved rapidly! Vivi is great about guessing what I want to say even if I say it all wrong. She is also really good about slowing down her speech for me (She talks like an auctioneer with her family and friends haha) It is interesting because I can understand her Spanish better than anyone else's. So sometimes she has to translate other people's Spanish into "our" Spanish haha. Spanish is not the hardest language in the world to learn but, it isn't super easy either.

For example, in English we can say I want, I wanted, or I will want for present,past and future tenses. In Spanish they have I,you,he/she,we,they want. Then a completely different word for past or future tenses. That means there is 15 possible combinations for "want" (or any other verb) in Spanish depending on who you are talking too and what tense you want to use. You also have to remember that every word has male or female gender attached to it. It is a lot to remember! Don't even get me started on the huge amount of  synonyms that Spanish has! I haven't taken a formal class of Spanish yet (but plan to in the future) it is difficult but I am getting there... my Spanish is MUCH better than three months ago. I can now hold an extended conversation in a normal pace of speech without huge problems. Of course my accent is very different than native speakers and sometimes hard for them to understand. I also don't know every word I want to say so sometimes I have to "talk around" something and my sentences might sound a little odd. My biggest challenge so far is that I am not fluent enough to "think" in Spanish yet. I have to think of what I want to say in English first and then translate it in my brain into Spanish. Not only is it slower but, I can easily mix up words or languages. But, I am hoping as I improve to be able to "think" only in Spanish. 


There is a taxi strike here in Bogota (there is literally thousand's of taxi's in a city of 9 million people!) they are angry because here in Bogota we have what is called Pica y Placa. Basically to cut down on pollution the city made a policy that people with certain license plates cannot drive their cars on certain days during certain hours (this policy rotates to include all license plates on different days) obviously if people can't drive their cars they have to take a bus or a taxi. So the drivers want to extend this Pica y Placa policy for more hours (hence more potential money for them) and even include the busses in this Pica y Placa policy so that everyone is FORCED to take a taxi.  I think it is greedy and wrong and who knows what will happen. There is riot police all over the city now ( I even saw an all female riot police squad) they sure looked like girls you DIDN'T want to mess with haha! But, I have been in rioting cities before and been fine. So far everything is calm and I am not to worried.... Colombia can afford to pay for universal healthcare for all of it's citizens but in the public sector/govt. jobs people are always complaining or striking about something! We will see how this goes.

Overall Colombia is a good country. I enjoy it here and I really enjoy my job and my girlfriend and learning Spanish. People are nice and friendly here and (knock on wood) I have not experienced any violence against me personally. I feel safe and happy even if I have been sick as a dog lately (but getting better!) I hate the weather here and the traffic sucks but everything else is great.

Colombians are also very thrifty! They have extreme recycling here. Anything and I do mean anything that can be used again is. There is people who come by on horse and buggy (yes in 2012) and they will take and re-use anything you don't want. Also in Colombia since there is no unemployment checks or social security people will do anything they can for money. Jobs that have no use or would  not be profitable in America are all over the place here. For example, "minute men/woman" these are people who will let you (for a small charge) use their phones to make a phone call if you run out of credit. This job would have no use in America but here they are everywhere! If you ever want to know any gossip you go to these people because they here all the dirt on everyone haha. Colombia sure is a unique country!

In some ways Colombia is a very progressive,interesting,cultural,safe,fun place to live. In other ways it is still very much a 3rd world country but you know what? Overall I am pretty damn happy here and hope to continue to  be happy :) I know this was super long but I wanted to spill that all out. Yall take care,Tyler


Monday, August 20, 2012

My long night in the hospital.....

So, I wanted to explain my recent health scare before everyone in my life starts to freak out. First off let me say that I am in no danger of dying anytime soon ( I hope). As most of you know recently I had a bad case of tonsillitis. I was quite sick for a while but they got me on some medicine and I finally seemed to get better or so I thought.  Well about three days ago I found a lump in my neck. In addition to this lump I have had an annoying itching on one side of my neck. It was on the same side as the lump, this lump was located very close to the "tubing" for my VP shunt. Let me briefly explain what a VP shunt is and what it does.

Most of you probably know I was born three months premature. Due to being born so early the blood vessels in my brain were underdeveloped and one of them broke. When it broke, it filled my brain with fluid. Obviously this was no good and they had to fix it because fluid and/or pressure on your brain can kill you or cause brain damage. I got real lucky. I had great doctors and they put a pump on my brain connected to a tube that snakes its way through my body into my stomach. All the excess fluid drains naturally from my brain into my stomach lining, keeping the pressure off my brain and keeping me alive.

When I was 13 years old due to my growth spurt my "tube" broke and they had to replace it with a longer one. Since then I have had no problems to speak of. Well when I felt this "lump" it was really close to my tubing and this obviously freaked my girlfriend out. She insisted we go to the hospital and get me checked out.

We arrived there at just before 6pm. We waited to see the admitting nurse after giving all my information I got admitted. After much waiting we saw basically an intern. Now my Spanish is pretty decent now but it is just so much easier to have my beautiful and amazing girlfriend Viviana do all the talking for me because A) she knows my total medical history forwards and backwards now and can say all the right words correctly and quickly. B) For some odd reason I understand Vivi's Spanish MUCH better than other people's Spanish so its much easier if I can just listen and then Vivi can translate Spanish into Spanish for me haha.

Well our intern didn't know what was wrong with me so she referred us to a "real" doctor. After more waiting we finally got to see a "real" doctor. Well she wasn't exactly sure what was wrong with me either so she wanted a second opinion from another doctor. Yet more waiting. After much time we finally got to see him. He had a rough idea of what was wrong but he decided he wanted me to get my blood drawn and a CAT scan/picture of my brain. Of course he couldn't draw my blood or take my CAT scan so both of these things required waiting once again.

The only upside to all this waiting was Vivi and I got to practice my Spanish and her English a lot. I feel that we both improved over this time haha. Well even though I told them my pain was only a two or a three on a scale of 1-10 (ten being the worst) they insisted that I needed an IV saline solution. The nurse decided to stick me not in my vein but into my upper arm/hand. She was super nice and super professional but man it hurt so bad! My other nurse was terrible I think she was blind. She missed my vein (for drawing my blood) THREE times. So now both of my arms are out of commission and hurt badly. My IV was totally unneeded in my opinion and now I am in more pain than when I came into the hospital haha.

So, after eight hours and one intern,two doctors,a specialist, a CAT scan and having my blood drawn they have determined that nothing is wrong with my shunt and I have a blocked lymph gland from my recent tonsillitis. They gave me some medicine to make this lump go away and it is not serious. I also seemed to have developed contact dermatitis/allergy/itchy stress rash on my neck. This is also not serious but I don't yet know what I am allergic too. I have never had an allergy to clothes or soap or anything so this is strange but they gave me medicine for this also and it doesn't seem to serious.

So the good news is I am not dying. My lump/allergy I hope will be cleared up soon. My shunt is fine and I shouldn't need anymore hospital visits (I hope) because we didn't get to leave there until 2am! The quality of care was good it was just SLOW SLOW. It also annoys me that they have to have a different person (hence more waiting time) for every single little thing. (including paying your bill!) the good news is though even without Colombian health insurance the whole visit cost me only 125 dollars USD! Pretty damn cheap for a Specialist, a CAT scan, blood drawn and seeing a "regular" doctor. Colombia has not been good to me health wise but I am hoping from here on out to be healthy and have no more problems. Wish me luck!-Tyler

P.S. I have the most beautiful, amazing,awesome girlfriend in all of Colombia. She has spent a total of 12 hours of her life seeing doctors and hospitals with me and all without complaining. I would never be able to do with without her. Thank you/ Muchas Gracias a Viviana Gaitan!  :)