Before we went on the trip, I made a post about my expectations for Colombia. Throughout the trip, Professor Montoya and I looked out for the things that I spoke about and I tried to see it these things really were true or not.
As far as seeing colors, I definitely did. Especially in the old city of Cartagena there were many colors. All of the buildings were brightly colored in pink, yellow, blue, orange, and many other colors which was so beautiful. The buildings also did look different from those in the United States especially because some of them (like in Cartagena) were very old. However, some of the newer and more modern buildings looked similar to those in the United States. I also expected to see diverse people which was pretty accurate. Many of the people in Colombia have mixed ethnicity which means that they have different characteristics. I expected that these people would be very happy and friendly and they definitely met these expectations. All of the people I met on this trip were very nice and friendly which made the experience even better.
Right when we got off of the plane I heard music. We heard many of the songs that Professor Montoya showed us on this trip. Sadly, I did not get to hear people playing accordions while we were there though. I also heard many different dialects of Spanish while we were there. The accents from Cali were very different from the coast but there were even differences between the speech in different parts of the coast which was very interesting. These differences were a challenge for us at times but we were able to speak and understand once we got used to the different dialects.
We tried so many different foods on this trip and they were all delicious. We tried buñuelos empanadas, arepas, choados, and many other foods. Everyone else tried a whole fish but because I don’t like seafood that was just not for me. Even food from fast food restaurants was good because none of them were fast food the way we know it in the United States. They still make all of the food fresh rather than reheating frozen food which was nice. We also tried (and had many times after) Juan Valdez coffee. I always got something called a Nevado which I loved; it was like a coffee slushy.
I ALWAYS felt the heat. The heat wasn’t the worst part though. The worst part was the humidity. The humidity was always very high so the air always felt heavy and we always felt sticky. However, after a while we were all pretty used to the heat. Even if we didn’t always love it, we expected that each day would be incredibly hot.
One of my last expectations was that I expected to learn a lot from this experience. I defiantly did learn a lot from this. I learned the basics of salsa, I learned some new Spanish words, I learned a lot about the schools and universities in Colombia, I learned about some Colombian history, I learned about the different dialects and many other things. Especially being an education major, seeing their schools was very interesting to me because the schools there that we saw were very different from the schools in the United States. Especially at Colegio Bennet, there were some pretty cool ideas that I wish we used in US schools. They have classes involving expression, gardening, and just how to be a good person which I loved.
As far as the answers to my questions: Yes, the people were nice. Everyone we met on this trip was very friendly and made us feel welcome. No, I did not hear American music on this trip which I liked because it made it feel more Colombian. But we did see some movies that we have in the United States like Finding Dory and Star Wars. Yes, we did see some poverty, but there were also some really upscale places as well. YES, they all can dance. I really thought that that was going to be something that they said but actually being there you can see that they all can dance which was so much fun to watch. Yes there were people that spoke English. In Cali, there were very few people that we met who spoke English but on the coast (Cartagena in particular) there were more people who spoke English. Yes, there were some taller buildings in the cities but nothing like US cities. In these cities there were many cars but more than anything there were motorcycles which scared me anytime we were driving because sometimes they get so close. During the trip we kept saying that if you could drive in Cali, you could really drive anywhere (it was worse than NYC). Yes, what they wear is very similar to the United States. Yes, there were many influences from different countries in the restaurants. There were so many different kinds of foods inspired by countries all over the world. No, for the most part no one laughed at our attempts at Spanish; there were times that we messed up but they understood.