Wednesday, May 27, 2009

La Cultura

More about the area and the culture:

Medellín - The city was founded centuries ago by Jewish refugees fleeing Spain after they were given the ultimatum to either convert to Catholicism or leave the country. They founded the city in the beautiful Aburrá valley where it resides today, making it one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Driving and Traffic - Traffic here is different in one big way here. We take it for granted in the U.S., but there is NO respect for other cars on the road here. The best way I can put it is that in the United States we utilize defensive driving, here in Colombia they use offensive driving. When you´re on the road, you better know where you´re going and stay out of everyone else´s way. When you´re trying to merge, get out of a parking lot into traffic, no one is going to slow down and let you in, you have to make a move and get in there yourself, or you´re going to get some dirty looks and honks. That said, it works, and there are not many accidents.
Also in regards to traffic, Colombia utilizes something quite interesting to lower emissions and reduce rush hour traffic fatalities. It is called ¨Pico y Placa¨ and roughly translates as ¨the peak and the plate.¨ It means that at least twice a week, on two days in a row (monday and tuesday, tuesday and wednesday for example) you cannot drive between the hours of six thirty and eight thirty in the morning and five and seven o clock at night. This is determined by the last two numbers of your license plate. It´s quite interesting to see this in action, and it works and everyone abides.

Food - I know i´ve talked a little about food, but one thing I must mention. Colombians are in LOVE with desserts. Whenever you´re between meals anyone can ask you if you want to ¨tomar de algo,¨ and that means do you want to go get a little pastry and maybe some coffee? It´s pretty cool, and as for something we don´t have in the US that they eat here that´s AMAZING is Arequipe. It is like caramel, except sweeter and tastier and not as rich. They can put it in ice cream, in a hot pastry, anything really. Another awesome dessert they eat here is really simple but they eat it all the time. It´s called fresas y helado ...strawberries and ice cream. Not strawberry ice cream, strawberries in vanilla ice cream. And the FRESHEST strawberries I´ve ever seen. All of the fruit here is excellent, which leads me to another point, that they drink a LOT of juice here. Everyday at lunch at the orphanage there is a different fruit juice accompanying my meal, and to tell you the truth I haven´t heard of any of them really, but they are all SO GOOD. My thing with food is, whenever you´re traveling, ask a local what´s good, and eat it. They usually won´t lead you wrong. And don´t be afraid of something weird or only live once!

My hands are tired, more tomorrow, I have to update you on the kids of course! They´re doing great and the people there are SO nice. They really are loved and well-fed and love each other and me...haha more on that tomorrow, Que dios les bendiga - God Bless

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