Near the Old Man of Storr, Scotland I took this in 2004

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The meet and greet!


Hello, and welcome to my site!!! Here I will introduce myself a bit.

A few facts about me:

 Fact 1: I am a traveller, hence the title of my blog, but...
 
About my teaching:
 I have a lot of experience teaching. I have taught here, in Toronto, and in Colombia, South America. Also, I have been tutoring for at least 8 years, if not longer. If you or someone you know is looking for an excellent, RSA CELTA qualified  ESL Tutor, please contact me, at: Fantastic.Instructor@gmail.com.
Any questions? 


In the following pages I will be writing about my travel adventures!!!!

Stayed Tuned...







All about Colombia


















I think I'm addicted to travel...so much so that I took a job in Colombia..which stank, but I would have never gone to that part of South America, paid for, no less, otherwise. Basically , going to Colombia, gave me the chance to increase my number of visited countries.

Of course there was the interview at the visa office, which consisted lots of different ways to ask me if I truly knew just how unsafe the country was, and therefore how many people , namely family knew where I was going?
Not exactly giving me a warm fuzzy feeling.

Not for nothing, it is the kidnap capital of the world. But still, I went.

I would never go back to Colombia...I even had to pay to leave the country, at the airport..something I certainly was never told. And it wasn't as if I could have asked anyone, cuz I know no one who had or has been. And even on travel sites with forums on Colombia, not one person who had visited mentioned anything about the exit tax. Funny.
I lived in Bogota, the filthy capital. It's astounding to see such gaps in super wealthy and over-the-top poverty.
The children whom I taught were the super wealthy.
Every morning, a bus from the school came to get me. I was the first person on because I lived at the beginning of that particular bus route. It also picked up many students who lived on that route to the school, as well as a few other teachers. It was never an uncommon site to see the children who lived in houses, big, sprawling, gated numbers (versus apartments), have their mothers waiting just outside the door, to usher them out, and then, at the the garden gate, leading to the street, would be their maid, standing, holding their backpacks. The child might take it, but more times than not, our bus monitor would dash off the bus, quickly grab it, and anything else the maid might have , such as any instruments, gym equipment..and usher the child to her/ his assigned seat, and then securely tuck their belongings away for them.

These things always shocked and disgusted me. But only me. For everyone else it was, literally business as usual.
I liked our bus monitor. She was a sharp, no nonsense woman. I also liked our driver, he like me at the time, was also a smoker.
My bus would arrive every morning at 5:15. I got up at around 4. This way I didn't have to rush and could more or less take my time. Some of tbhat time was spent leaving my apartment some 10 or 15 minutes early to head down and have a smoke. I would usualy be down in front of my apartment by 4:45, or 5 .

The bus driver never rushed me, like he would the children who couldn't carry their own bags. He
would sometimes get so fed up, that if they weren't at the curb, or whatever assigned waiting spot, he'd leave. End of story. But to me, he would tell me kindly, to take my time, because I was always very punctual, and once in a while he would join me in a smoke.
It may (or may not, depending on what experience you've had with developing nations) go without saying that both our bus monitor, and the driver were not from the wealthy classes.

Bogota is a city divided into 6 sections. 1 being the lowest. I lived in the 5th. So, pretty good, you'd think. Well, I suppose so. I mean a barrio it was not, but it was very difficult to have so much and see the brutal effects Third World market economics.
The apartment I stayed in was old, and unkempt.We had doormen, but they seemed? or were, I wasn't sure, unarmed. How unfair was that, when only 2 streets over they had security and doormen patrolling with bazookas.
2 streets over the apartments were modern and flashy and had fancy native flowers in big, beautiful vases in the foyers. They were the kinds of flowers that the rich anywhere buy and discard very readily,
not caring at all how long it takes a flower to grow, and how hard someone had to work to go to the mountains and jungles to get them..these are big, heavy stemmed flowers.

My apartment didn't have a foyer. So, naturally it had no flowers. What it did have though were 2 doormen, who worked in shifts, so someone was always there. One older, who was shocked to see the hot running water in my apartment, and a younger one, who was always trying to sleep, but seem efficient, which he really was! It also had a rickety, old-style elevator: the kind where you have to close the door before it can start to ascend, or descend, depending on which way you're heading. But, there was a gap between the door and the floor, and through this gap I once lost my apartment keys. All I can say is thank the deities for doormen!
The door to my unit had 3 locks. The unit was huge, and even had,though this shouldn't shock me, but still does.. a maid's bathroom. You know, just in case the neighbours get the wrong idea.

On the main intersection of my neighbourhood, children would often be sitting at the cross walk, begging. But, in Colombia, children don't beg in the normal "here's my hand, give me money," kind of way. Instead, they perform acrobatics, more times than not in their bare feet, on broken glass, that just happens to be there on the road, while visibly high. I saw a child, who couldn't have been more than 7 doing some serious back flips, while a littler girl, and a young teenager holding a baby looked on. It was very hard to see.

I once saw, I think 7 or 8 young men, not in my neighbourhood, somewhere "nicer"standing on each other's shoulders', and form a triangle, right in the middle of the road. It was incredible! I wanted to take a picture! Even give them change..but I knew that would be hard, because I was trying to cross, not get hit
(which was a feat in itself!) and watch them. Not only were they poor, they were black, meaning they had 2 strikes against them. I thought they were incredible, but the people I was with thought differently, and admonished me strongly about even stopping to look.

Bogota has a train that runs through it. The train tracks were near my place.
Those tracks were home to many a homeless man, who used that grassy refuge as his bedroom and bathroom. I remember using the tracks to cross instead of through the street, and watched as a man undid his pants and squatted to empty hs bowels. It was not easy to watch or not watch.
Bogota and the surrounding area that I saw are true slices of Third world Economics, therefore everyone really needs to do more than just give lip service to the politics of "eco-friendly SUVs"

Here are some images from Bogota, Usaquen, which is an old village, town and the mountains. It looks pretty nice...but it truly is a world apart from Canada.