Thursday, January 22, 2015

Relaxation and Rejuvenation

Time can be a funny thing. At times, it drags by slower than molasses on a cold, wintery day. Other times, it flies by faster than a Concord Jet, racing through the clear, blue sky. It can be your best friend, while also your greatest enemy. Over these past few months, time has been more of an enemy than a friend to myself and many of my other fellow volunteers. We have all been itching to get started in our schools and find something to help us pass the time besides countless naps, enthralling books, and engaging Netflix series. A recent trip to Santa Marta and Minca helped remind me that time can in fact be my friend.

Santa Marta is a small, tranquil town on the coast about 2 hours by bus from Barranquilla. A couple of weekends ago, Derek and I decided to pay this quiet city a visit to see some of our fellow volunteers and get out of the hustle and bustle of the city. Upon arrival, we met up with MC and headed to the beach in Taganga, a msall city nestled between the Caribbean Sea and Sierra Nevada mountain range. The beach was beautiful, with the small waves quietly lapping up against the sand. The chill of the water sent shock waves coursing through our bodies at first, but were later welcomed as the sun's rays beat down on us.

That night, we hung out with a few other volunteers and enjoyed some pizza, drinks, and great company. Recently, there have been some major changes that have happened in country and two of the members that were located in Santa Marta have been relocated to smaller pueblos south of Barranquilla. Being able to see them one more time before they made their moves was a great perk to this trip.

The next day, Derek, MC, and I caught a colletivo (aka we rode in the back of a pickup truck) up into the mountains to the small town of Minca. This pueblo is a popular tourist destination despite it's small size (only about 500 people reside here). We met up with our friend Caitlin, who works and lives there, and headed on an hour long hike further up into the mountains to las Cascadas de Marinka (the Marinka Waterfall). The hike was worth the sweat and dirt. At the end of the path was a beautiful waterfall, cascading down the shear rock and gathering in a clear, cool pool. The abundance of nature and lack of concrete made this an even more ideal destination.

After a delicious lunch at a local restaurant, we made another hike up to the hostel that Derek and I were going to stay at for the night. This hostel, Casa Loma, was unique in the fact that it offered hammocks as a sleeping option. This was a new experience for me and one that I thoroughly enjoyed. We passed the rest of the day playing spades, enjoying a delicious supper, and meeting other backpackers who were both passing through and volunteering their time at the hostel.

One of the volunteers that we met actually turned out to know one of the volunteers in our group! We were playing spades and struck up a conversation with a worker named Eileen. It turns out that she is traveling through South America and is staying in Minca for about a month, working at the hostel in exchange for room and board and food. She asked us what we were doing in Colombia and we told her that we were apart of the Peace Corps. She quizzically asked us if we knew Drew Chadwick, on of our fellow CII-6 volunteers! You want to talk about a small world! We also met a couple from Canada who will be around Barranquilla for Carnaval and a lad from Holland who was just finishing up a 2 month journey through Colombia.

This weekend was the exact thing that I needed to get through this period of inactivity. Even though we didn't do much of anything, the time away from Barranquilla served to help both relax and rejuvenate myself in preparation for the beginning of the school year and the chaos that will ensue. I'm looking forward to finally getting settled into my site and to start working with the school, students, and fellow counterparts.

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