Find your Passion, and then Live it

Medellín, Colombia

Sunday, October 30, 2011

TV famous in Colombia!

Recently I was asked by AIESEC if I could be interviewed by a Colombian TV channel for a special segment for one of their programs. The TV channel is called TeleMedellín, and the segment I was on was for a relatively new program called Medellín City, which is a show completely done in English. The reason TeleMedellín created this all English tv show is because the city is trying very hard to have more resources and access to English, as the goal is to make Medellín more of a bilingual city.

My interview was filmed on EAFIT's campus, where I was hooked up with a legit microphone pack, and started to set up various shots for my interview. The 3 crew members directed me where to stand, what questions to answer etc. It was very exciting, I felt like a TV personality haha. It was a little awkward just because it was during the week, so as all the students were walking to class they would be staring at me and probably wondering who I was, and what I was doing.

During my interview I spoke about who I was, where I was from, what I was doing in Medellín, how long I had been here, what I thought about my Colombian life etc. It was a very relaxed interview, and I actually wasnt too nervous to be speaking into a camera. I think it would have been a little different if the interview had been in Spanish, but I had the advantage of it being in my native tongue, so I think that's why I wasnt so nervous.

Once I had done the shots of me talking and answering questions, they had me do some walking shots. So basically they did several takes and angles of me walking around the campus, this kind of made me feel like a model haha.

Apparently the segment is going to air on Nov 6th at 430pm, but there will also be a clip available on the internet, once they've done their editing etc. So Im going to try and find it, and see if I can post it on my blog when it's ready. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fav Quote #4

"You have to trust that the dots will connect somehow in your future. You have to trust in something, your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart."

- Steve Jobs

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


This past weekend was yet again another long weekend in Colombia. However we haven´t had a long weekend in a while, as there were no festivo days in September, which made for a VERY long month, as I had to work the entire month (hard life I live, I know). The long weekend in October was extra special because I travelled to the caribbean coast to a beautiful city called Cartagena.

Cartagena, also known as its full name, Cartagena de Indias, is located on the northern coast of the Caribbean region in Colombia and is the capital city of the Bolívar department (think province). Cartagena has a population of 892,545, which makes it Colombia's 5th largest city. Activity and development of the Cartagena region is dated back to 4000 B.C. around Cartagena Bay by varying cultures of indigenous peoples. The Spanish colonial city was founded on June 1, 1533 and named after Cartagena, Spain. Cartagena served a key role in the development of the region during the Spanish eras; it was a center of political and economic activity due to the presence of royalty and wealthy viceroys. In 1984, Cartagena's colonial walled city and fortress were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Needless to say, I was told by virtually every person who had ever been to Cartagena, what an incredible and beautiful city it is - and trust me, after spending 4 days in the city, it lives up to all the hype, if not surpasses it.

FRIDAY OCTOBER 14th 2011 - I travelled with Leo to Cartagena, and we had decided a long time ago that we were going to fly, to maximize our time/trip in Cartagena. However, our flight to Bogotá-Cartagena, ended up being SUPER early. Our flight left Medellín at 6am, and we had to be there the standard "1 hour" and a bit early, but the airport is an hour away, so we had to get a taxi at 330am, which meant we woke up at 2:50am/3am. So we were incredibly tired, but we were so excited to finally be going on our Cartagena trip (since we had booked it back in March, was originally going in June, but had to change it due to visa issues Leo was having). Once arriving in the Cartagena airport, we had to get off the plane on the tarmac, and for those of you who don't know, since Cartagena is on the caribbean coast, it's VERY hot, and VERY humid. So once the doors opened on the plane and we were disembarking, we instantly felt a wall of heat hit our bodies, and it was intense. You could almost feel the moisture in the air, it was that humid. But it was beautiful, sunny, and we couldnt wait to start exploring the city!

We took a cab to our hostel which was called "El Viajero", located on 7 Infantes (note: there are 2 places called "El Viajero" one is a hostel the other a hotel, we stayed at the hostel). Our hostel was great, we had such a good time there. We were actually recommended to stay there by a friend in Medellín, and we were glad for her recommendation. The hostel was very modern, clean, and had excellent staff. It also had breakfast included, and AC in all the rooms (the AC was key!). Once we got our room (which was shared with 10 other ppl), we changed into more appropriate Cartagena clothes (tank top, and shorts for me), lathered on the sunscreen (100 SPF) and headed out into the city. Our hostel was in a great location, because it was within the old city walls. Cartagena is sort of divided into 3 sections: 1. the Walled City (old Cartagena), 2. Suburban Cartagena (outside city walls), and 3. New Cartagena (Bocagrande barrio, where all the new condo buildings are, and the beach!). Since our hostel was conveniently located within the walled city, we just simply started to walk around and go exploring, to get to know it better. We walked along the walls, which took us completely around the city, and then walked through it as well. I couldnt stop taking photos, because literally everything in Cartagena is so beautiful. The city is filled with colonial style buildings which are kept in very good condition, and of course the city is located on the caribbean sea, so the water is right there, and it's beautiful. The sun was intense, and the weather was very hot, so Leo and I ended up stopping for many snowcones (called respados in Spanish) to cool off from the heat.

I think we had 3 on our first day there. During our walk we visited various plazas, parks, the gold museum and the emerald museum. We had quite the productive day. After a long day of walking around the city in the 40 degree weather, we headed back to our hostel, changed and then went to a bar called Café del Mar. Now for those of you who dont know I have an obsessed with Café del Mar, mainly the music that is played at the bar. The original bar is in Ibiza, Spain (an island), and I couldnt go last year because of the Iceland Volcano, BUT luckily there was one in Cartagena, so it was kind of like a dream come true that I was able to go. The bar is beautiful, located on the wall of the city overlooking the sea, and the skyline of Bocagrande (new Cartagena), and of course they had the typical Café del Mar music playing, which is sort of an ambient style of music. It was so relaxing to be there after a long day of walking in the heat. We got there just as the sun was setting and enjoyed some very tasty and strong drinks.

SATURDAY OCTOBER 15th 2011 - Leo and I were VERY excited for Saturday in Cartagena, as we had planned it would be the day we'd go to the islands which are about 1.5 hours away (by boat) from Cartagena. The group of islands are Islas del Rosario and Barú, which we had been told had beautiful transparent and turquoise waters, and beautiful beaches. Since I had never been to a place like that before I was so excited to go. To the left you can see a map showing where the islands are located and how we travelled there from Cartagena. So on Friday we bought our tickets for the boat tour, which was $45.000 pesos (about $22 CDN), which included our trip there and back, trip to Islas del Rosario, Playa Blanca (on the island of Barú), and lunch. The boat ride there was great, as they had this MC guy, to entertain the guests on the boat while we were travelling to the islands. He was really funny, got ppl to do dress up competitions to try and win icecream, and also did trivia as we travelled and past by various points on our route. Once we started to get closer, the water started to change colour, and my jaw just dropped. I had never seen water that colour before, let alone water where you could see the bottom. It was stunning, the islands were beautiful, the water was beautiful, everything in Cartagena is beautiful!

Our first stop was Islas del Rosario, where the majority of people went to visit the Aquarium, however Leo and I decided to go snorkelling! We found a guide to take us out for an hour, since we had limited time to get back to our boat. So there I was, in the Caribbean sea, about to go snorkelling for the first time in my life, it was so exciting and crazy fun. This was our snorkelling guide:

The first time I had the mask on my face, and put my head down in the water to see what was below, it was incredible. To see all the fish! And the coral, was stunning. I had never seen anything like it in my life. I couldnt believe I was snorkelling in the Caribbean sea of the coast of Colombia! A year ago, I would have never thought Id be doing this in Oct 2011 !! We snorkelled for about an hour, and when we finally headed back to the port, just as we were pulling in, our boat was leaving.... uh oh... Luckily, there are several tour companies that go to the islands from Cartagena, and there was a woman who went snorkelling with us, and she just told us to hop on her boat (which ended up being nicer than ours) and it would take us to Playa Blanca, where we could meet up with our original boat and get lunch. So that's exactly what we did, upon docking, we rushed to her boat, and just went with the flow while boarding. We acted casual, and just got on. They didnt even ask for our tickets... guess it was obvious that we were tourists, especially me, since Im SUPER white (finally my skin colour is paying off!!). From Islas del Rosario it took about 45 min to get to Playa Blanca, which was stunning. I couldnt believe it. The beach had pure white sand, with clear waters, palm trees, and the sun shining down on it. It looked as if we were in a postcard setting, I had never seen anything like it in my life. I couldnt stop smiling.

Once arriving on the island, we headed to the restaurant, which was outside, and had a traditional coastal dish, which consisted of fish, coconut rice, salad, patacones (plantains), and fresh limeade.

After lunch we rushed to the beach to enjoy the sea, sun, and sand. For about 2 hours we swam, hung out on the beach, and just took in the scenery. I never wanted to leave, this was paradise. But unfortunately the afternoon came to an end, and we got back on our boat (the right one this time), and travelled back to Cartagena. I passed out on the boatride back, and both Leo and I were exhausted from the whole day. As we had to get up at 7am, to be at the port for 730am, and we got back to Cartagena at 630pm. So it was a nice long day, and we felt we got our money's worth (especially when we got to go on the nicer boat from Islas del Rosario to Barú!). Once we got back to our hostel, we just hung out and called it an early night.

SUNDAY OCTOBER 16th 2011 - Sunday was spent exploring outside of the old city walls. So we once again spent the day walking around exploring other barrios (neighbourhoods) outside of the city walls, and visited a castle, called Castillo de San Felipe. What's special about the castle, is that it provides stunning views of the whole city of Cartagena, and has a huge... and i mean HUGEEE Colombian flag at the top, which was perfect for photos. On the way to the castle, it started to rain a tiny bit, the rain was weird, because it was like misty, anyways so just as we got to the castle, the flag had been taken down!!! We were so bummed, because we wanted to get photos with it. So before buying our tickets we asked if they were going to put the flag back up, and they had told us that when it stopped raining they would. So we waited a bit, got a nice cold drink outside the entrance to the castle, and waited until the rain stopped. It didnt take long only about 30 min. Then the sun came back out, and it turned into a beautiful day.

We walked all around the castle which was super old, and quite big. It had been used as a place to defend the city, and for various battles. After a while they had finally put the flag back up, and Leo and I rushed over to start taking pics before the other tourists came as well. Check some of them out!

Near the castle are a pair of these boot statues made of bronze. Leo wanted to get photos with them because 20 or 30 odd years ago his father had come to Cartagena and taken photos with them, so he wanted to recreate the photos to be able to show his dad when he gets back, which I thought was really cute. So we spent some time at the boots having a little photoshoot for Leo, to ensure he got the perfect pic to show his dad. After the boots, and the castle we headed back to the hostel to shower (as it was another hot and long day), and just relax for the rest of the day. For the sunset we decided to take a cab to Bocagrande, and watch the sunset on the beach. The beaches in Bocagrande arent nearly as beautiful as those in the islands, but the views were still beautiful.

MONDAY OCTOBER 17th 2011 - Monday was our last day in Cartagena, so we decided to rent bicycles and go around the city once again. It was another beautiful day, and we went through the old city, on the walls, through other barrios, as well as through Bocagrande. We actually biked on the beach in Bocagrande because the sand is quite hard. We biked all the way from the start of Bocagrande all the way to the bottom, which is quite far. It was yet another hot day, so once we had reached the bottom of Bocagrande we took a break, got yet another respado (snowcone), and sat in the shade, since we were sweating quite a bit. But hey, at least we were getting good exercise! Once biking back to our hostel, we checked out of our hostel, and headed to the airport. Both Leo and I didnt want to leave at all, we were having such a great time in the city of Cartagena. There's something so romantic, and magical about the city, it just felt so good to be there. I really want to go back someday soon, we had such a good trip there. I recommend the city to anyone!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Colombian Thanksgiving (Acción de Gracia)

My mom is always super helpful with reminding me about when certain holidays are, when to change the clocks etc. So about a month ago she was quick to remind me about Canadian Thanksgiving, and then suggested I should make Thanksgiving dinner in Colombia. At first I sort of laughed at this idea because:
a) I dont know how to cook a turkey
b) I didnt know if Colombia sold turkeys (turns out grocery stores do)
c) Im not a big fan of turkey, I prefer ham
d) I dont have a functional oven in my apartment

But after thinking about it, the more I wanted to do it. It was something Canadian I could pass on to my friends here, and have them experience what a Thanksgiving dinner is like. But the first thing I needed to figure out was what I was going to cook, and turkey was not something I was willing to do. Next best thing? Roasted chicken! Another tweak in the plans was that I could not find gravy anywhere in any of the grocery stores here, and my friends had no idea what it was either. So I scrapped the idea of making mashed potatoes (sad day...). I finally decided on making a roasted chicken, with herb roasted potatoes, steamed carrots, garlic bread and a chocolate cake for dessert.

We ended up making dinner in Sara´s house because she has a functioning oven. Side note: apparently an oven is NOT a basic necessity in Colombia, as the majority of people do not have ovens that work in their homes (at least in Medellín that is)... hmm strange. Anyways so we cooked all the food at Sara´s apartment. However the best part was that we didn´t make the chicken. We called a store to order a precooked one, and they delivered it to her apartment. So we cheated a little bit, but we made everything else, so it wasn´t a completely false "cooked" dinner ;)

The dinner turned out to be an absolute success, as the food was delicious and we didnt burn the house down. WIN ! Before eating, Leo said grace (in Spanish), and then we went around the table and each person said what they were thankful for. Canadian Thanksgiving in Colombia? SUCCESS.

Here are 2 videos I made. The first one I thought I was in Canada, the 2nd one I got it right:

Crashing a Colombian wedding

This past weekend I had the unique opportunity to attend a Colombian wedding with my friends Sara and Leo. One of Sara´s cousins was getting married and she asked if Leo and I could come to be able to experience what Colombian wedding is like, luckily the cousin agreed, and we were instantly invited. Since we didn´t know anyone who was going to be there (minus Sara), we were essentially crashing a wedding. If anyone has seen the movie "Wedding Crashers" you know what im talking about.

So we all got dressed up and headed to the ceremony first, which was on Saturday night. It was held in a church, and consisted of the marriage ceremony and then followed by mass. Once the couple was married, we waited outside for them to exit the church, where they were greeted by all of the guests tossing rice into the air. We shook both the bride's and groom's hands during the receiving line, and offered our congratulations - still completely unaware of who these people actually were. It was somewhat humourous. So once the happy couple got into a classic car and drove off, everyone headed to the venue spot for the dinner, drinks and dancing.

The venue was actually really pretty, it was close to the church, and decorated really nicely. The colours were red and white, so I felt right at home, since those are Canada´s colours, not to mention I was wearing a red dress, so I was perfectly dressed for the wedding!

The celebration started out with a baileys-like cocktail which everyone was served, followed by champagne and chocolate cake. Apparently it´s tradition to start with the cake, followed by dinner (I am perfectly ok with this tradition?. For dinner we were served a dish with ham, rice, salad, and another dessert (postre de las 3 leches).

Once dinner was done, the open bar started, to which we had the choice of rum, guaro, or beer. Sara, Leo and I decided to go with rum and cokes.

After the dinner the bride and groom did the bouquet and garder toss. However, it was done a little differently than in North America. For the bouquet toss, and the single ladies went to the dance floor and surrounded the bride who was sitting on a chair. Everyone offered their right shoe, which was then put underneath the bride´s dress. Then one by one the groom would pull out a shoe, and the last person´s shoe that remained was the winner of the bouquet. When we initially started this process, I thought that it was the first shoe to be drawn would win the bouquet... and the first shoe happened to be mine - so for a spilt panicky second, I thought I had one. But luckily I didnt. I say this because the winner, had photos etc with the bride and groom, and it would have been awkward (yet epic) if that had happened to me, since I didnt know the couple. For the garder toss, all of the single men offered up their IDs and put them in the groom´s pocket. One by one, each ID card was drawn by the bride, until the last - who was the winner. And something somewhat shocking, is that the WINNER removes the garder from the bride, not the groom. And even worse than this? The winner removes it with HIS TEETH. wtf? A bit strange for me, but still hilarious.

The night was filled with dancing, mostly salsa and mergenue, copious amounts of alcohol, and an all around good time. We ended up sitting at a great table, where we got to meet other young ppl (in their 20s as well)and have a great time with them. At one point in the night we were given masks, and other random party favours to put on while dancing etc.

The wedding ended around 2am, but we werent ready to call it a night, so myself, Leo, Sara and a couple people from our table headed to a club that was near by, and continued the party and dancing there until about 5am. Needless to say I was exhausted by the time I got home, but had a great time at my first Colombian Wedding.