Thursday, January 7, 2010

Family time.

What kind of Colomiban holidays would I have had if I was not at some huge gathering of cousins, uncles, aunties, mommas, grandmas, etc, etc?? Naturally that´s were I was. I was "priviliged" enough to be invited to spend the holidays with my Colombian family, and it went something like this.
Christmas day I was invited by my own personal Colombian to spend with his family. My Colombian mom is pictured left, being very latina, heating up the grill with a blow dryer. Viva la vida. This gathering was loaded with young cousins, whom I am convinced are born with a sense of humor white people could only wish for. There was a pleothera of cousins, aunties and uncles, a grandma, and a baby-on-the-way. No Colombian family would be complete without a pregnant woman. I was more of an observer as I was slightly intimidated by the Spanish speaking nature of the gathering. But the party being loaded with kids, I found conversations of my own level of Spanish. Certainly all were curious who this gringa was. By the end of the day they all knew. Nothing major happens on Christmas day in Colombia, the parties are on Christmas Eve, this was just a good old fashioned family gathering. Pounds of meat were grilled and enjoyed, along with Colombian brew. A rather uneventful day, thank god, but enjoyable nonetheless.

The real party came the next week, for the New Year holiday. I was invited, yet again, by this particular Colombian to travel to another small city, Tunja, where his uncle, aunt and cousins live to enjoy the New Year. We stayed with the family, I got to share a room with the kids, since apparently the Colombian and I were not allowed to share a room(lame). Maria and Santiago, ages 7 and 11, have got to be the funniest kids I´ve ever met. Personality galore!!! On New Year´s Eve, I curled and styled Maria´s hair, making her feel like a real queen. That´s us, the two super beautiful ladies just before the party.

In proper Latino fashion, we partied at the house of the grandparents, dancing and partying until about 4am. I must admit, I have never danced in somebody´s house like that, but if you can´t beat them, join them. It was 100% Colombian good times. I learned how to do some of the basic dance steps and had the privilege of dancing with nearly every man, and practically every woman in the room.
Needless to say, sleep came easily after such a wild night, as Maria and Santiago demonstrate in their too-precious-for-words photo.

The next day, New Year´s day, it was back to the grandparent´s house for more grilled meat. I didn´t last too long this time. I was totally exhausted from the previous night. Most everyone else was battling a fierce hangover(not me, ha, ha). I was just battling exhaustion. At this point, I had eaten enough grilled meat for an entire year and opted out. My stomach and my mood were saying, "no, gracias". The New Year day passed without much action. The next day Uncle Cesar, Aunt Nora, the cousins, the Colombian and I departed for a few days of relaxation in a small town called Miraflores.
Miraflores is a town with not much to do, is surrounded by gorgeous Andes and has a perfect climate, like most of Colombia. I woke up the day of our departure for Miraflores with something fierce in my throat, and did not feel very well most of our three days in Miraflores. We passed our time at the local pool, something the kids could not get enough of. And due to my illness, I was allowed some alone time to rest in my room, not joining the family for every outing to the pool. When we were chilling at the hotel, the kids kept me entertained, along with the particular Colombian. I really cannot express enough how great these two kids are and how much I love spending time with them. They hammer me with questions about the United States and are constantly asking me how to say things in English. The kids were the highlight of my trip. Colombian adults don´t seem to understand that Spanish is not my first language and sometimes have me very frustrated with the way they speak to me, thinking I can understand perfectly. As if. Thus, the kids are my salvation.
After a week with the family, I was more than eager to get back to my life in Bogotá. Colombian families do EVERYTHING together, and it was hard for them to understand that sometimes I wasn´t hungry at the exact same time as every one else, but still had to go and eat. Being the Pura Americana that I am, part of me was dying for some alone time, some English-speaking time, and to just be goddamned left alone for a couple of hours to rest my Spanish-overloaded mind. I was granted the opportunity and it saved the trip for me. Plus, finding some alone time with the particular Colombian was also not of great availibility, sort of frustrating. By the end of the trip, I was feeling like a 30-year-old kid, not something I was very cool with. I´m sorry, but I will not answer to other adults. However, I kept my game face on and finally slept in my own bed last night, got up when I wanted and ate breakfast when I wanted.
It was a great week, it not a bit trying. Speaking Spanish for an entire week certainly helped my ability and confidence. Spending time and traveling with the particular Colombian was really special and I definitely thankful for the opportunities to spend time in ways very few other foreigners get to experience. I mean, when is the last time your Colombian uncle wiggled a piece of grilled cow intestine in your face whilst all your Colombian cousins laugh, knowing full well it was grossing you out? Good times.

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