Reflection: First Week in Cali

I need to catch up with the story; I don’t even remember where I left it off, and can hardly keep up with which day is today, only because I need to keep track of expenses I have a little sense of time. Days have been too intense that we feel we have been here for a month already.  We left Cali yesterday, I was sad.  This trip has been my symbolic return to my valley and my family; it has been an opportunity to connect my two worlds, but yesterday an overwhelming feeling of departure, leaving my parents, my family, my friends, and my city behind, plus the exhaustion from the trip, broke me in tears.  I know I have returned, but I again felt I had to leave like 23 years ago.

Well, I would like to recapitulate our last days in Cali. Salsa lessons were definitely a success.  All learned to dance Salsa very fast and well, now they have the “swing”, and the students are thinking in proposing a Salsa club on campus.  This shows how confident they are with this dance and culture.  I took them to “Tintindeo” for a final exam, all excelled. We also had the opportunity to say “hasta luego” to Cali by touring the city on our last night.  We went on the “Chiva” and observed Cali’s different places for “rumba” (Party); we saw happy people everywhere, and a lively, illuminated city.

We also visited two higher education institutions: ICESI on Thursday and Universidad del Valle on Friday.  They welcomed us enthusiastically to work with us.  I already have an “agreement of understanding” in my inbox.  Lots of work to follow up upon my return.  I had a feeling of accomplishment to be back at my undergraduate institution; however, I know that what really helped me to advance concrete conversation was the company of Dr. Larson, our International Director from Oneonta. His presence tells the people in Cali that we are serious in our intention of establishing a relationship.  In my country we do not talk business, we form relationships.

Yesterday we arrived in Cartagena, humidity went deep inside our pores; Arrival at hotel, lunch at a popular restaurant, not a fancy one. Taxis and then at the old city, I was exhausted, and just needed a little bit of sunset and sand under my feet.

– Maria Montoya

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