Saturday, September 29, 2012

Britto Art Exhibit

My students spent the first marking period studying an artist named Romero Britto.  After learning about the types of figures he liked to draw and the colors he used, the students worked in groups to create their own Britto-inspired paintings.  The best part was that their paintings were then hung in a gallery in Bogotá this week for the public to see.  It was also an auction and the money raised is going towards a service project for another school in Bogotá.

The students were so excited about having their art worked exhibited.  It was a fun event that brought together the parents, teachers, and the students and helped out a great cause.  Nice work GLM!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The toughest part about living abroad

Today I received the news that my grandmother, Jane Cottrell, passed away at the age of 94.   She was failing quickly and it was clear she was ready for her next adventure (as my father put it), but that doesn't make losing her any less heart-wrenching.  The worst part of it all is that I am thousands of miles of way and know I will not be home for the service.  I won't be there to be a support for my dad and to spend the time sharing all the great memories and stories we have of Grandma.

Because I can't be there, I thought I'd share a few of the memories I have of this wonderful person:
  • Perfect handwriting.  She told me stories of how she had to do all these crazy exercises to make perfect curves and curlicues.  
  • Summers at her house.  Where to begin?  Several summers in a row,  I spent one or two weeks in Sodus, NY on the farm with Grandma.  These weeks with Grandma where the best.  
    • She always gave me and my cousins a ton of freedom.  She could get away with this because we would never want to disappoint her so we'd avoid doing anything too stupid.  We'd spend the entire day outside - in the woods, climbing Skunk hill, swimming in the lake and the creek, climbing trees, catching all sorts of critters, playing games (all the cousins together).  When it was time to head home, Grandma would blow the whistle and we all run home.  Her only rule was that we always needed to hear the whistle.
    • Soap opera marathons.  There were some days when the cousins weren't around and she'd let me lounge around all day in my pajamas watching Soap Operas with me
  • Card games.  Grandma was the Queen of Cards.   As I grew older, I realized that when I was younger she'd change the rules so that I could win.  Still, we played hours upon hours of cards.  She never seemed to be unhappy playing cards with me.  Up until last year, that was still the activity we shared.  Every time I visited her at the nursing home we'd play Rummy 500...or 200...or until she fell asleep. 
  • Clams.  Orbakers or on the Point, up until the very.  Grandma loved her fried clams.  Every time I eat them I think of her and always will.  Silly, I know, but something that I remember.
The list goes on and I know I'll continue remembering more and more wonderful things about Grandma over the next few days and weeks.   These memories are what will help to keep her with me forever.  I love you so much Grandma and hope that you are now in a better place.  Happy and free of pain...

Sunday, September 16, 2012

I LOVE Visitors!!!

 So Haley already two posts about her arrival to Colombia and a day in the city, but I still felt that I needed to share my excitement over her visit.   It was a quick day and a half but it was WONDERFUL!

Some of the highlights:

Dinner at Club Colombia.  This is not a place I go to often because it's a liiiitle too fancy for regular visits but it is pure heaven.  Gorgeous inside and out, great food, great lighting, and with Haley and Aly (her colleague traveling with her for work), great conversation as well. 

Drinks at Cafe y Crepes.  I had only been to the sister location, Cafe de la Montaña, but the locations are nearly identical and equally adorable.  Dark, warm, live guitar playing, and delicious beverages that warm you to the core: canelazo and vino caliente.  I know Haley and Aly were exhausted from the flight from Paraguay but it was sooooo nice to have this evening to catch up and talk about love, life, the future, etc. 

Tamales at La Puerta Falsa.

A trip to Monserrate.  I don't think I'll ever tire of this place.  Stunning views of the city and a great market full of typical Colombian cuisine.  We tried the coca tea - and Aly purchased some for her altitude sickness.

Obleas.  I actually don't think I've ever had an oblea...even after a year of living here.  How crazy because they are delicious...or exquisite as the vendor's cart claimed. 

Worlds colliding.
Onces potluck with my favorite Colombians and my lovely American visitors.  I invited a bunch of my favorite people from Bogotá to bring a dish and share it Sunday evening at my apartment.  The theme was onces and folks brought: hot chocolate, refajo (a mix of beer and Colombian soda), empanadas with ají, caladitos, fruit salad, cheese, guacamole, papas criollas (a special Colombia potato), and more.  The food was good and the company even better.  I love bringing my favorite people together and when my worlds combine and make new connections among themselves I am suuuuper happy. 

Haley and Aly, thanks so much for the excuse to have friends over on a Sunday night and for a great weekend.  It was sooooo wonderful to have visitors and I hope that your next visit will be a bit longer.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Broke Genius

When I first found out that I was going to have to pay to leave the country to get a new visa, I was sooo angry with myself.  As I mentioned I had to both pay a fine AND pay for a very expensive, emergency flight out of the country.  This was no cheap errand.  In the end, however, I’m thinking that I might be really smart.  I tricked my school into giving me a weeklong vacation, without giving me a hard time.  Nice.  And a week with some of my favorite people in Houston was an absolute blessing.  I made the most of this brief time in H-town.  There were so many great things about the trip, here are some of the highlights:

1.     Airport Welcoming Committee:  I did not land, collect my bags and pass through Customs until about 11:45pm.  Still, as I exited security Pears, Lora and Rachael were there to welcome me with a sign that said “Happiest B’s in the Airport” and a bag of Texas goodies including: Texas flag bandana, Bluebonnet seeds, Armadillo magnet, Texas keychain, Texas-sized Jelly Beans, margarita-flavored chocolate bar (not sure about this one), Texas-themed fake tattoos… so fun!  Not only did these lovely ladies pick me up at this crazy hour, they then rallied and took me out dancing until the bar closed.  Woop!


2.     Family Dinner:  Pears began this tradition during my last few months living in Houston and has continued it ever since.  She cooks all afternoon, all her friends are invited, we devour everything in about 30 minutes.  The menu:  Pot Roast, mac & cheese, green beans, corn muffins, salad and a delicious peach cobbler for dessert.  YUM!

      3.     A 2nd Cup:  This place makes me giddy and teary-eyed all at once.  Erica Raggett (who I have known since we met  at the 2005 Houston Institute where we were in the same CMA group) has left teaching and has started a non-profit coffee shop that is working to address the issue of human trafficking in Houston and beyond.  Her coffee shop educates people on the issue and raises funds for programs that support victims of human trafficking with shelter, training, counseling, and more.  The coffee shop is temporary but is super hip  - a coffee shop you’d want to visit even it was for-profit – but on top of that you know your money is going to a good cause.  It is SO inspiring to see someone who has truly found her calling.  Goooo ERICA!!!!

      4.  Breakfast tacos from Chiloso’s:  Eggs, potatoes, cheese, sausage, guac, and hot sauce in a flour tortilla. ‘Nough said.
      5.  Mexican Food AND Katie Norwood:  So of course I wanted Mexican food while I was in Texas.  It’s just better than what you can get in Colombia.  And no, the food from all South and Central American countries is not the same….don’t be so foolish.  Well, a person who inspires and who I’ve mentioned on my blog also happened to be in town this week and happens to also have an affinity for Mexican food, Lupe Tortilla to be exact.  So the infamous Katie Norwood joined Pears, Lora, Kat and I for an excellent meal.  The queso was best case…and so was the company.

     6.   Antidote:  Also a coffee shop.  An old favorite.  When I lived in Houston, I could pull up in my car and my iced coffee would be waiting for me be the time I reached the counter.  On Fridays, I’d treat myself to what I thought was a bear claw…apparently, it’s actually called monkey bread or a series of other names…a bear claw is something else.  Still, before both trips to the Colombian consulate I picked up an iced coffee and on one of those trips I purchased that heavenly Danish that I have dreamed of every since leaving Houston.  Worth every calorie.
     7.   Sunny days next to the pool.  It is HOT in Houston.  I mean, I-am-constantly-dehydrated-and-dizzy hot.  But I made the most of it by finding a pool for 2 of the days I was there.  Didn’t get as tan as I would have liked but definitely look a little less pasty now.  God Bless Texas.
      8.     Cheap clothes.  I really am broke but I had to find a little money in the budget to hit up Old Navy, Marshalls, and H&M.  They don’t exist in Colombia and absence makes the heart grow fonder… updated the wardrobe with a few key pieces: blazers, a pencil skirt, some dresses, and some tees & blouses.    Hopefully, this will ensure that I don’t spend my entire Christmas bonus on clothes (yes, I’ll be state-side again in December!).
      9.     Driving.  Yes, there are cars in Bogotá and yes, I have friends who have offered to let me drive their cars but driving in Bogotá is a traffic nightmare.  Driving in Houston on the highway, on the other hand = freedom!  It was so nice to get in a car, drive 70 mph and sing at the top of my lungs without bothering a soul.  (Thank you Pears for taking a risk and allowing me to borrow your car, despite the fact that I hadn’t driven in…ohhh, 8 months?  Thankfully your car didn’t fall to the same fate as your blue stapler)
     10.   Visa without a hassle.  I visited the visa on Monday.  I waited 30 minutes.  Spoke with someone for 2 minutes and turned in my papers.  Picked up the visa on Thursday and spent a total of 15 minutes there.  So after $1,000+ spent on travel, I was grateful that I could enjoy my “vacation” stress-free in terms of the visa situation.  Gracias Colombia.
     11.  Brunch with Rachael and a Bloody Mary.  It was a lot hotter than I remember but Backstreet Café is the best brunch place in Houston and it was absolutely delicious.  I think I made Rachael a fan too.  She had trouble deciding between the gingerbread waffles and the banana-stuffed French toast…she will HAVE to return.  In addition to the great food and the Bloody Mary, time with Rachael is always a blessing.  She makes me think and motivates me to be a better person.  Love her!
      12.   The B House.  So nice to be able to visit a place that still feels like home.  The house still has a lot of my stuff: furniture, dishes, books, pics, etc. and the other ladies act like I totally belong there.  Was so easy to sleep there for a week, even on the air mattress in the dining room.  It was also perfect timing, as the 30th birthday of a friend was on Saturday.  The theme?  His favorite things: Lonestar beer and hot dogs.  Hilarious.
      13.  YES North Central.  What an amazing place.  There are a LOT of new faces but it is more obvious than ever that the school is AWESOME.  It was so great to visit, hear the conversations taking place between teachers and administration about quality instruction and how to best support children.  Made my heart so happy.
      14.  Law & Order Marathon:  Yep.  A week in Houston and I chose to sit on the couch with some of favorite ladies and watch tv allllll day long. 

I know I’m missing a lot…but this blog is getting ridiculously long.  Thanks to everyone who helped to make my visit amazing!!!