Monday, June 30, 2008

Movie weekend

This weekend was a movie weekend. It started Friday night with WALLE. This little robot movie was really good. At first I was slightly offended that humans (in the future) were portrayed as obese and lazy, but a few minutes later I was entertained by the hyperbole. I recommend this movie to everyone! It was funny and brilliant the way they told the story with little dialog.

Saturday, we hung out with our care group from Sunday School class.

"Care Group" - a group of people out of our Sunday School class at church who live in the same area of town we do. We have outings several times a year.

Saturday's outing was a Bocce ball tournament.

"Bocce ball" - oddly enough, this is a game where you throw balls towards another ball. The person who gets their ball closest to the first ball wins. Strange concept, but quite fun.

I lost pretty badly in the game, but I had a lot of fun. Adam claims that he dominated the game, but as a witness I know that the scores were quite close. Here is where the next movie comes....After Bocce ball, we watched Finding Nemo. Adam and I had never seen this movie. It's funny. Also, recommended.

The final movie was on Sunday afternoon. During the storms we ventured out again and saw Get Smart. I really enjoyed this movie. I laughed aloud several times. Of course this movie is PG-13. So it is highly recommended for those over 13.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

NY marathon

Oops. In all of our wild events, I forgot to post that Adam got chosen to run in the New York Marathon. He entered himself in the lottery and got picked. So on November 2nd say a prayer for him. 26 miles is a long way! Here is a pic of my stud at the last marathon.

The Walmart Greeter

Have you seen the Walmart Greeter lately? The sweet retired lady has been replaced by a much burlier, cynical person. This person no longer greets either. Instead they bark aloud "Come back here! I need to check your receipt!" Maybe they should call this position the Walmart Bouncer.

This happened to me a few months ago and I decided then that Walmart would not be my regular grocery store. I now only go to Walmart to refill my gas card. You see, Walmart and I are in a Love-Hate relationship. I hate that I love them sometimes. But, their gas is the cheapest and on top of that you can get 3 cents off of every gallon by paying with a Walmart Shopping Card. I just load the card with money and buy gas with it. (sigh)

So please walk out of Walmart with caution - don't get bounced!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Colombia - Dia Nueve - Domingo, Junio 15th

This is basically the day that wasn't. We never made it home. So here is why:

In Cali, you have to arrive at the airport 3 hours early for an international flight. So even though our flight didn't leave until 9:00 am, I woke up at 4:15 am. We left the house by 5:00 am and arrived at the airport right at 6:00 am.

We had to do crazy things like get a tax exemption form. So we were so glad we had Juan and Amber to help us out at the airport. Luckily, we had a few minutes to grab breakfast before we had to say goodbye to Amber and Juan and head to our gate.

At security, they wanted to check out my vase. Of course the first question was "What is this thing?!?". The security guy spoke less English than I spoke Spanish so I decided to give it my best. "Es un vaso", I proclaimed. Later to discover a "vaso" is a drinking glass. By now the guard was giggling at me. He then asked in Spanish, why we were in Colombia. "Visitamos su amigos", was my reply. This translates to "We visit your friends." I meant to say that we were visiting OUR friends. Oh well! He enjoyed it.

We boarded the plane around 8:45 am. About the time we should be taking off, they told us there was a mechanical problem with the plane and we needed to get off. Actually, all of that was said in Spanish, but luckily Colombians are very friendly and someone translated for us.

For about 4.5 hours we waited for the part to arrive from another airport. Unfortunately, the new part didn't work either so our flight was canceled. They did feed us while we waited - that was the good part. It was still another 2 hours before we left the airport. We had to rebook our flight for the next day. A&J picked us up at the airport and the pinky alliance lived for yet another day.

When we got back to Jamundi, I slept for a long time.

The next day, our flights went smoothly and we arrived home. I already miss Colombia. I would love to go back!

Oh and something funny is that the security guy remember me! He didn't even open the box my vase was in this time. He just pointed at it, smiled and said "Un vaso?"

Colombia - Dia Ocho - Sabado, Junio 14th

Saturday would be our last day. After eating breakfast, we headed to the Galleria with Juan's mom and sisters.

Every town has at least one galleria. The galleria is where people come to sell the produce, meat, flowers, or whatever that they have grown in their own backyard. It's basically a farmer's market except the one we went to was over an acre of vendors. It was awesome. Here are some pics:















We left the Galleria because Adam was beginning to feel sick. Adam is an interesting fellow. He is going to say that I am wrong about this, but I know I am not. He can get really sick really fast and then get really well really fast. Within minutes of arriving back at the house, Adam had a fever. He slept for several hours and I played nurse (and a few games of cards with A&J and Isabel). Around 5:00 pm, his fever had broken and he was determined to go out with us.

That night we went to a different Uncle's house. Adam sported his new Cali soccer jersey. The Cali team was playing that night so Juan's family got a big kick out of Adam's team spirit. We didn't stay long. We had to get home so Adam and I could get ready to go home. Here are some pics:



Sunday, June 22, 2008

Colombia - Dia Siete - Viernes, Junio 13th

Friday was a day to recover. We were exhausted from our travels. We slowly woke up and ate breakfast. Then we headed off to Cali for shopping. At the Jardin Plaza I picked up a gorgeous blue vase. Back at the house, Surie (the cook) cooked a scrumptious pork in cream sauce with soup for lunch. After stuffing ourselves, we were back out to shopping.

Somewhere around 5:00 we stopped for Chilados back in Jamundi. Chilados are this crazy fruit drink. Every fruit imaginable is in there - apple, orange, kiwi, banana, guanabana, lulo, grapes, and I don't know what else. It was awesome.





That evening we picked up Juan's sister Isabel from the airport. She was coming home from her semester at school in Bogota. Isabel is studying to be an Orthodontist. To celebrate Isabel's arrival and hang out with the family some more, we all headed to Uncle Raphael's for a late dinner.

When I say "late", I mean "late". We didn't get there until 10:15 pm or so. Raphael made this incredible chicken lasagna. Even the lasagna noodles were made from scratch. One day Raphael hopes to make his recipe famous - he can totally do it. Around midnight, Amber and I were starting to get unsociable. We headed off with the teenagers to watch a movie in one of their bedrooms.

Parties in Colombia are really cool. They can last all day and all night. We left this particular party at about 1 am. However, Juan's parents didn't come home until 4:30 am. Most US kids would kill for parents like these!

I skipped over the part where Raphael gave us a tour of his home. Everywhere we went we got full tours of peoples' homes. It was fascinating. Homes were mostly white. Walls were smooth - maybe made with some type of concrete. Floors were marble and tile. Windows were in every room and were huge. Floor plans were wide open. People kept fresh exotic flowers in just about every room of their homes. They also had a lot of religious art in their homes - paintings, statues, etc. They were really beautiful.

People in Colombia take great pride in their houses because they spend their whole lives building them. Of course they usually have contractors and family members to help, but every concept of every room is theirs. This made each house all the more special.

Colombia - Dia Seis - Jueves, Junio 12th

Thursday started with breakfast in the hotel in Armenia. Adam and I ordered ourselves in Spanish! On the way back to Jamundi we would stop to visit La Maria and the Sugar Cane Museum.

First we stopped at a cute little coffee shop and bought coffee made fresh from the backyard for our dads. Yes, they made the coffee from their own coffee plants in their backyard!



Next we came to La Maria. La Maria is the name of a house in South America. The house is close to 300 years old and the house was the setting of South America's most famous love story. The house had gardens of roses - of all colors. As you can see, Adam enjoyed climbing the trees and we also climbed the love rock together.











The Sugar Cane Museum was next. We ate real sugar cane and learned how it was made in different parts of Colombia. We also found this really cool plant that you could use to paint things orange. It was actually used for bug repellent a long time ago. Also, below is a picture of me in front of a really old rubber tree. Juan and Adam took turns swinging from it.





We left the Sugar Cane Museum on a sugar high and Juan drove us home. Juan was such a great sport driving us everywhere. We arrived in Jamundi in time for a delicious dinner. We also chilled out with the family some before heading to bed.

Colombia - Dia Cinco - Miercoles, Junio 11th

On Wednesday morning, we continued our adventures towards Armenia where we would explore El Parque de Cafe (Coffee Park), La Maria, and El Museo de La Cane de Azucar (Sugar Cane Museum). Armenia is about 3.5 hours North of Jamundi. So we broke our excursion into two parts. Wednesday we would do the Coffee park and Thursday we would visit La Maria and the Sugar Cane Museum.

The scenery on the drive was beautiful. The mountains were green and covered in cattle. On a clear day, you could see for miles, but fog could also cover a mountain right in front of you. Houses and cities were built into mountains so that was also neat to see.

We went through many bamboo toll booths.



The Coffee Park was really cool. There were coffee plants as far as we could see. Banana trees were also abundant in the fields because the large banana leaves give shade to the coffee plants. Here are Amber and I viewing the fields.



And the guys.



As we walked through the paths of coffee, we picked some and tried it (not compliant with the rules). The coffee bean was enclosed in a grape like fruit. The picture below shows a bunch of green ones. The fruit turned red when it was ripe and it was sweet and had a hint of coffee taste. See Juan and I doing the deviant.







The coffee park had a lot of other exciting things like go carts, a train, shows and a ski lift. We did all of these things. The show we saw was of singing trees and flowers. Our version of the story is slightly different from Juan's.



Here is a view of the park from the ski lift.





That night we checked into our hotel in Armenia. We walked along a pedestrians only street to go to dinner. Dinner was simple - Qbanos and a bread shop, and Nertz topped off the night. Here is a picture of the cool street in Armenia.

Colombia - Dia Cuatro - Martes, Junio 10th

Tuesday was when our great tour of Colombia started. We left at 7 am for Popayan. Popayan was about 1.5 hours South of Jamundi and it was also higher in elevation 5,699 feet. Popayan reminded me a lot of Charleston, SC. It is a city with a lot of history and is preserved well. Every house and building is white and many of the buildings are hundreds of years old.



First we entered a gorgeous catholic church. It had elegant statues and religious art. Juan told us that every Easter, the people of the city solemnly carry the statues out of the church in a procession throughout the city.



We then drank some actual Juan Valdez coffee. Juan Valdez is a popular coffee shop in South America - watch out Starbucks.

There were numerous street vendors, which was good because my sunglasses broke. I was able to get a pair of Chanel's for about $4. We decided to tour a really old theater and when we came in a class of 1st graders was practicing a dance. It was so precious. Pictures in the theater didn't really come out well, but here is one of us on the roof.



As we grabbed some pan de yucca (Juan has some in his hand), we spotted a student demonstration. Students were marching protesting the government. As a journalist, Adam went nuts. He took videos and pictures. He especially loved seeing the Colombian reporter interviewing someone. Adam picked up a newspaper in every city we went to.









We ate lunch at another one of Juan's aunt's house. She fixed this amazing chicken. Lunch in Colombia is the most important meal of the day so we could always count on it to be delicious. After lunch, Juan's cousin Jaime joined us for a quick trip up the mountain to Coco-Nuco. On our way there, we drove through a rain forest! It was like a continuous mist.

Back in Popayan, we visited a 400 year old bridge. This means it was made shortly after Columbus discovered America.



We also toured a museum about Juan's family. You see Juan's family is a lot like the Smith or Jones family here in the US. We had a late snack of Popayan empanadas. These empanadas were much smaller than the ones we ate in Cali. Between the 5 of us we downed 70 of these guys!



Finally, we saw the oldest church in city. There was a stone path leading up to it that went down a long hill to the city. Jaime told us that when people have a special request to bring to God, they crawl up the long path on their knees all the way to the church.



Oh and did I mention that the four of us were giants in this city. The majority of the people in Colombia are much shorter and smaller than we are, but in this city the differences were astonishing. I'm fairly short - about 5'3", but I was a full head taller than many men in Popayan.

After our adventures we headed back to Jamundi.

Colombia - Dia Tres - Lunes, Junio 9th


Monday was another relaxing day in Colombia. After a hot breakfast, Amber and I got a manicure and pedicure. This combo is only $7 in Colombia. This is where I committed my first faux pas. That morning I had decided to wear a skirt. I did not know I would have to prop my legs up to get the pedicure. Thank goodness they had a towel!


The four of us (A & J, Adam and I) set off for the mall (Unicentro). I love the malls there. It's a mix between an outdoor shopping center and an indoor mall. The stores are all connected and facing each other, but there is no ceiling. Instead you walk under the shade of trees and by beautiful water fountains.

At the Unicentro we grabbed some Guanabana juice from a juice shop. In Colombia, people drink juices like water - with every meal. Here is a pic of Adam, Juan and I downing some juice. This was my favorite of the juices we tried. It was soft like Coconut and Banana.




Next we were off to Moppie's. Moppie is Juan's aunt. Her cook makes the best Ajiaco soup. This soup was a potato based soup with Chicken and Corn in it. You eat it with Avocado. It was so creamy and delicious. Moppie's apartment was on the side of a mountain. The view of the city from her apartment was gorgeous.



Next we were off stroll through downtown. First a famous statue and picture taking spot.



Then we went to a colonial church. This church was more than 300 years old. It was closed so we just walked around in the courtyard.


Then we headed off to a park in downtown Cali. This park is decorated with los gatos (cats).



This seems really strange, but it is actually really cool. Various artists decorated statues of cats for the city of Cali. The statues are now in the park for everyone to enjoy. Here are Amber and I ready to pounce.



That night we wanted to catch the movie Indiana Jones. We knew that a big movie like this would be showing in English. Before the movie, we stopped by Juan's aunts house. She had just arrived from France. Yes, Juan's family is well represented globally with him in the US and her in France. Juan's aunt hooked us up with soda and popcorn. We also grabbed some Cali empanadas before the movie.

Interesting fact: In Colombia, your seats at the movie theater are assigned. Also, they have a first class section and a class for everyone else. I thought the regular class seats were better since they were further back.

And here is a final cat for your enjoyment.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

ConGraduations!

My wittle brother graduated high school on June 5th! I love my brother and I am so proud of him. In the fall, he will be going to Clemson - yea! I call my brother Bud and have since before I can remember. Bud was only 8 years old when our mom died and despite many other crazy things in his life, he has managed to stay on the straight and narrow.



Bud is still loves to have fun though. From the time he was 8 years old, he loved to blow things up. My dad always helped him of course. Bud would find old cds and stuff just to blow it up. Bud is also an extremely talented musician. He plays bass guitar, acoustic guitar and piano. He has played for his church, school clubs, coffee houses, and beach camps. He is also quite the ladies' man.

I love you, Bud! Look at that handsome man (even when he is sporting my sunglasses)!