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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