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Homesick in Paradise

Ok, so you know how I haven’t mentioned being homesick down here? Well, somehow I really haven’t been… until this weekend. I would have thought the first few nights would have been the rough ones but I think the newness and excitement carried me really well these first two weeks. It all came crashing down Saturday night though, in the most unlikely of places.

Every city here has a big tile sign like this!

This weekend was our first trip outside Barranquilla. ISA (the program I am here with) took us on a grand adventure to the neighboring city of Santa Marta, a much more touristy locale with a cute downtown plaza and beaches galore. We spent our first day in Tayrona National Park, a beautiful protected area near the Sierra Nevada Mountain, which is the highest costal mountain in the world - over 18,000 ft! The park spans 370,000 some acres and is home to many postcard perfect beaches. We went for a nice little hike to get to our guide’s beach of choice. Ok, it was a nice little hike for your Colorado girl, but was a pretty big one for my flatlander friends. Everyone did great though and we saw 3 kinds of monkeys on the way to the incredible beach. Despite the slight difficulty in getting to this beach, it was still full of Colombians and tourists alike. It looked like a beach from a painting of paradise with its lush palms, clear blue water, beautiful people, thatched roof huts, white sands, and mountains rising behind.

But what about the title of the post you ask? I’d been feeling annoyingly out of it all day despite the incredible surroundings and that evening the feeling of missing everyone really set in. I guess maybe it’s because I’m starting to settle into a routine here and it started to hit home that all of you aren’t really part of it. :( Anyway, we ended up at this little bar which thankfully had a rooftop because I was not in a space to handle loud music. The rest of the crew went downstairs for drinks and I just started leaning over the balcony, watching people on the street. After a little bit I found myself in tears. There really is nothing quite like crying at a rooftop bar watching people stroll through Caribbean paradise. After a few good tears were shed, I noticed a guy on the street below trying to get my attention. He was holding a menu for the restaurant across the street and trying to get customers - as is super common in this strip. He started miming at me not to cry and to smile. After a little bit of this, he got me laughing. For the next 20 minutes or so he kept catching my eye and getting me to smile and even blew me a kiss. It absolutely made my night. When we left the bar, I confused my friends a little by walking up to, as far as they knew, a random dude and attempting to thank him for making my night so much happier. He told me again that the world was too good to cry and to remember to smile and then told me his name was Daniel. I headed back to the hotel hoping he knows his kindness had such a big impact. It seems sometimes angels come in the form of menu hockers.

Minka Waterfall

Our beach adventure was followed up by a trip up into the mountains. It’s quite crazy to be standing in cool mountain air looking at the ocean. We went to a small mountain town called Minka and toured an organic coffee farm. Coffee production is something I’ve seen on trips before but this farm was special for your little engineer over here. Anyway, this farm still had all its original machinery from 100 years ago and was fully hydropowered. Not hydro-electricity powered, actual water-wheel-turning-belts powered. They also use water as a mode of transportation for the coffee and to sort the quality. Basically the more intact the coffee berry, the less it floats. So you can separate them with a fully mechanical process. We continued our time in Minka by visiting some beautiful water falls and finally seeing some fun tropical birds!

100-year-old coffee drying machinery

School life has settled in finally and the adventure of taking classes in Spanish has really begun. Miss you all so much and I would really love to hear from you. Abrazos, Jasey


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