Friday, November 30, 2012

Upgrading the blog!

This is just a quick post to let you know that the picture situation has been resolved just now and I am again able to upload as much as I want to show you everything I want to show you about AAAAAALL THE PLACES that I go and AAAAAALL THE THINGS that I do. 

Because of that upgrade, I decided to also upgrade everything that's already on the blog - of pictures, that is. I have a logo for isaontheway, got it a few years ago from a friend who's a graphic designer. I've never been able to really use it, though, but that is changing now. It's going on all the pictures I upload. Yay!!

So, basically, this day will serve as a kind of marker for you to figure out if you can count yourself in the group of oldschool readers of or not. If you've seen the pictures on this blog logo-free, then you are. If you haven't, you're not. 

Obviously, this transition will take a little while, I have a total of 562 pictures on this blog until today's date and all of them have to be downloaded, have the picture inserted and be put back up onto the site. Can't do that in one night. But I'm starting work on that tomorrow morning (because right now I'm off to sew a bag) and will also blog about the latest stories as soon as I can - things are happening here in Trinidad! And I want to tell you all about it. 

Thank you, Ricardo!!

Loving this so much...

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Meanwhile in Cascade...

Cascade. Yes. Cascade! That's where I am right now. That's where I live. 

Remember when I told you about the Independence Day Party back on the 31st of August? And the other party the year before, in August 2011. That was also here, only like 5min further up the hill from where I live. That's the main reason I like being in Cascade, that it's so familiar. I've just been here often before and it feels like the place just fits me. That's hard to explain, you'll just have to take my word for it. 

The house I'm staying in is a CouchSurfer's place. She offered to host me for a few days until I found something, and she also has extra bedrooms that she rents out, but of course not through CS. I came over to meet her, Gillian, and her family and we talked about what was going on and just spent a very nice afternoon before I had to go back to the guesthouse, where I was still staying at the time, to keep on working. We'd agreed then that I'd come to her house on Saturday the 17th, because the guesthouse was paid until then - three days, remember? 

In the time leading up to the 17th I was, as mentioned in the last post, talking to loads of people about the possibility of renting a room. One of those possibilities actually worked out. Again, thanks to CouchSurfing. A CSer from French Guyana told me to contact a guy he'd met in TT some twelve (12!) years ago. I did contact the guy and the first thing he said to me was "Don't worry, you'll be fine, I'll do everything I can to help you". That alone gave me so much reassurance,  I can't tell you much better I felt after that. I met him the next day to have a look at the room he was renting out and I liked it: nice area, nice house, nice room, nice people. So I took it. The only thing is, that it's only available from December 3rd, not right away. So on the way back to the guesthouse I called Gillian and she said that she'd talked to her parents, who own her house, and that they were fine with me renting a room for a while until I found something else. So now I'm here for a bit over two weeks and on the third of December I move to St. James - a part of Port of Spain they call "the city that never sleeps". 

Disaster averted!!! 

Cascade, though, is special. It's not so much inside the city as beside it and it grows up into the hills, so there's a lot of green around and it's so quiet. Tranquil. And when it rains, you hear almost nothing but the rain. You'll sometimes hear that Cascade is a dangerous area. Few taxis come up here (As a matter of fact, I have to walk all the way over to St. Ann's and take a taxi from there, and coming back that's where they'll drop me off, too.), I'm sometimes told not to go out after dark, people will say that you can't come here unless you're from here yourself if you don't want anything to happen to you. I'm not going to say that's not true - because what do I know, I'm new here - but I will tell you that I haven't experienced anything negative in all the time I've been here, now or before. In fact, I don't understand why people warn at all, because this place is only one thing: nice. Who knows, people also used to warn me like crazy not to ever go to Colombia and we see what became of that. But I follow the rules, so maybe that's why. I do stick out, because of the colour of my skin, but that's not usually a problem either. Not like St. Lucia, another reason to love this island here. 

And the house itself fits the environment perfectly, because it's basically just one big open space. Our street is a very safe one, so it's not necessary to lock yourself in like in some other neighbourhoods of Port of Spain, where you almost feel like you're living in a prison. There's so many windows, so much light; it's fresh, too, because the wind can blow through the house with few things in its way. 

I'm also enjoying staying in Gillian's house in particular, because there's always people around who come by to visit and I'm already making a lot of new acquaintances through her. St. James is going to be very different from this, but I hope to be able to come back to visit and hang out with people here on the weekends, or something. 

A few days ago, I went down to Port of Spain with Gillian's friend Michael and on the way down we saw this dog barking off the roof of the house. I think he might be the dog-mayor of Cascade, because he started barking and responses came from all directions. I found it funny. 

Took that picture on the way down into Port of Spain and had to post it on 9gag.

More stories and pictures when I figure out the storage space situation.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Bumpy landing.

I should have blogged about this ages ago, but I've been busy. First, with what I'm on the verge of telling you about. Then later, with work. Yes, work! I love work!! 

I left Cartagena on November 11th, the 201st anniversary of the city's independence. Had a one night layover in Fort Lauderdale, but Nico was so kind as to let me stay at his place, even though he and his roommate had just moved in. I've mentioned that. The next day, November 12th at 10:50PM, I arrived at Piarco International Airport in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. 

That first night was a-ma-zing. Seriously. My friend Travis, who I know from my previous visits to the island, did me the huge favour of picking me up from the airport and on the ride to the city he gave me two options: 1) go straight home to Nella's house or B) come over to a party and lime with him and his friends. Do I really have to tell you which option I chose? Didn't think so. 

I talked to Nella to see if she was OK with me coming home even later or possibly the next day and she was fine with it, so it was off to party. I had a lot of fun there, with drinks and music and dancing and lots of nice people who didn't mind at all that I only understood about 40% of what they were saying - between my having to get used to the accent again and the loud music further diminishing my hearing capacities it was pretty challenging to maintain a conversation at that place. But still, great night. Perfect welcome to the island. 

The next day, because we'd stayed at the party until 4:30AM and I didn't want to bother Nella in the middle of the night, what with her having to work in the morning, Travis took me to her house in Diego Martin, about 20min outside of Port of Spain. 

That was when the trouble started. 

There was practically no internet connection at the house she was living in. Well, there was one unlocked WiFi network in the immediate vicinity of the house, but the signal only barely reached the room and I couldn't connect enough to even open my e-mails or facebook. So I started panicking. Right away, basically, because I was also tired from all the flying and the party the previous night, so it all got to me faster. I did manage to sleep a bit that night, but not very well, and the next morning I went into the city with Nella so I could use the internet somewhere else and figure out a solution. 

You know why that is such a big deal, you've read about my work. I told you, right? I get up early every morning in order to apply for jobs that come in from Europe (My 6AM is their 11AM, which is already late...). Then, if I have a project, I spend the rest of the day translating and using all sorts of dictionaries - online. I can NOT be living in a place that doesn't have a working internet connection. So I knew I couldn't stay at Nella's, even though that's what I wanted. She's my friend, after all. And she was so extremely kind to me, sharing her living space with me... I felt like an asshole wanting to move to another place. But then again, I didn't really have an option. 

After a few hours of frantic internet research and skyping with Béa and e-mailing with my family in Austria - and feeling sick to the stomach, and not being able to breathe right, and shaking all over, and really just wanting to curl up in some corner and sleep until it was all over - I was working on a temporary solution. Although I honestly could not have done it without my family. Well, probably, but it would have taken me so much longer and I would have lost a lot more nerves in the meantime. 

In the end I got an e-mail from Vienna with the address of a guesthouse and the words "negotiated the price, go there, they know you're coming" - I'm paraphrasing here, the original message was a lot longer. And in German. 

The problem with going to a guesthouse, though, was that I couldn't actually afford staying in one. It simply wasn't in my budget, I wasn't prepared for such an expense. Not that I'm poor, it just hadn't been calculated into my plans. I hate money sometimes... Otherwise I wouldn't have had the problem of finding a place to stay to begin with. I mean, if you can afford to stay in a guesthouse for a while, then rents in Port of Spain won't be a problem for you. But, as we all know, I couldn't and they were. Still, at that moment I did not have an option. Had I been on my own, I would have come to the same conclusion, but it would have taken me forever to take the step of getting a room. Already, it took a lot of convincing and pushing all the way from Austria to get me to go. "'But, this is so expensive, what if I find something else, I mean I don't know what that other thing could be, but this...' - 'Just effing go! Now!!'" So I walked over to the guesthouse and talked to the owner to confirm what the e-mail had said and we settled it, I was going to stay there for a bit: The Little Inn. A very cute, family-run guesthouse in Newtown, Port of Spain. 

I got to move into my room right away, well partly at least, because my big backpack was still at Nella's house. But I was somewhat calmer knowing that I now had steady internet access, so I did some work in my room that afternoon and went to the supermarket, because the room had a little fridge I wanted to fill up with the necessary things. 

I'd like to show you some pictures of my little room at this point, but this site is telling me I don't have any more storage for photos and have to purchase an upgrade. Obviously, I'm not doing that. So I'll figure out what's going on with this issue and when it's sorted out I'll post some of the photos I took, because they're nice.

Later that evening I went back down to where Nella works to pick her up and we headed to the centre together to have a drink and talk about the day. I think she understands. She didn't in the beginning - and how could she -, but I got to explain it better when I was out of the immediate trouble. Then, her boyfriend picked us up and because he was hungry and wanted to eat, he took the two of us to a restaurant to grab a bite. Afterwards he was so nice as to take me to Nella's and then to my guesthouse with my luggage. 

The disaster was not yet averted, though. 

Being in the guesthouse bought me some (expensive) time, but I couldn't stay there for the whole time I was planning on being in Trinidad. At that price, actually, I could barely stay there for a week without draining my funds. It was find a permanent solution in the next days or take the next flight back out of Trinidad, the following Friday or Saturday. I had a week. And I really, really wanted to stay. Really. 

For that reason - having to figure it out within up to three days (because flight prices would go up and then leaving wouldn't be a real option either) - I was still plagued with random panic attacks in the next days. I even cried. Twice. In front of people... not something that should happen. I'm sorry, Travis. I'm sorry, Peter. I apologize. But I dare promise it won't happen again. 

For that reason - not knowing what was going to happen and what my near future was going to look like - I couldn't write about it right away. I had to solve the problem and figure everything out before being able to tell you. But I definitely wanted to tell you, because of the share-the-good-and-the-bad policy. 

And now for that reason - me writing about it - you know that I've done it. I'm safe. 

The first thing I did after what I'm going to call First Aid - getting myself into that guesthouse so I'd be able to keep working right away - was post my problem in the Trinidad and Tobago group on CouchSurfing. I love CouchSurfing, becoming a part of that community was one of the best decisions I have made in my life. Hands down. 

I posted my message on November 14th and on November 17th I moved to the place where I live now, within the 3 day limit. All of it thanks to local and non-local CouchSurfers. 

Those three days were very intense and stressful, I was trying to get as much work done as I could, while making calls to inquire about rooms and researching some more online and visiting people to look at possibilities. When the final confirmation came that it was going to work out, oh you can't imagine the relief. 

I want to save telling you about where I live now and where I'm moving next for the next time I write. In part because it's getting late and I'm tired and in part because this post is already very long and I don't want to overdo it. 

So, now, I just want to repeat how glad I am that everything worked out in the end. And how amazed I am, still and again, by how wonderful people can be. Even during those three days of uncertainty I was able to experience so much kindness and wonder. I always try to concentrate on the positive things I encounter, no matter how small. It was hard this time, but I managed. Grateful for that, too. 

And at some point, Béa and I talked about what was going on and we came to a conclusion as to why it was happening. She reminded me about something I'd said a few weeks earlier, back in Colombia. I'm an extremely lucky person, so many good things happen to me that sometimes I can't even believe it. And a few weeks ago I thought about that and figured that something was bound to happen. Either something bad had to happen to me or I had to wake up. One of the two. Necessarily. Because there's a balance in the universe, call it Karma if you want. The point is, no matter how hard I try, I can't give back near as much as I constantly get. So this was really overdue, the universe had to send something negative my way for it to recover it's balance. Now that it's over, though, again I have something to be grateful. 

I must be boring you to tears with all this mushy talk about feelings. If I am, then sorry eff you, I need this right now. 

It was horrible and I hope to not go through something like that again, ever. But it could have been so much worse. And I learned from it. And I got proof - yet again, as if it was necessary to prove anything - how much my family stands behind me and supports me. And now, because of it, I appreciate even more what I have. 

Thanks, everyone who helped me. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Mila'st breakfast.

I apologize for the title right now. It's a really bad pun and you probably don't even get it. But I thought of it and felt so incredibly witty and smart, I couldn't resist using it. Even though I'm now apoligizing for it and about to explain it to you. I'm going to tell you about my last breakfast at Mila: My last breakfast ... Mi last breakfast ... Mila'st breakfast ... Whatever, you're the stupid one! Shut up!!! 

The evening before we didn't stay out late, because I needed Saturday to pack and get ready and work-hard-on-not-freaking-out-completely and finish part of a translation and Béa also had a translation project that she had to finish that day. So we actually woke up fresh as daisies (four hours later than usually) and with a lot of energy (for the first two hours of the day). Kordula came by the apartment a bit before 10AM so we could walk to Mila together and she wouldn't have to find her own way. Silvana was supposed to come, too, but she cancelled in the morning saying she was unwell. 

So we headed over to our favourite place in all of Cartagena when it comes to breakfast or dessert and we had just that: breakfast and dessert. Or rather, we had breakfast there and then Béa and I got something for dessert later. 

The best thing, in the middle of breakfast, all of a sudden Silvana did show up! She'd wanted to be a surprise the night before, like Álvaro, and as that hadn't worked out, she decided she'd be a surprise in the morning. She wasn't unwell at all, she just wanted me believing she wouldn't be there. What a cute kid, right? I love all of my friends, I certainly have the best ones there are. 

This picture looks weird, I know. I actually had to reassemble all the bones in my back, neck and arms to be able to hug the box like that, but it was worth it. My last Mila pastry of 2012. Happy face!!!

After almost two hours at Mila, we all left, because it was getting late for those of us who had to work and pack and work. So we walked back to the house with Kordula and Silvana and then said good-bye to the two of them, to Silvana until February and to Kordula until later. And I want to repeat what I said here, so you guys have it in writing and don't forget: 

Silvana: Gracias, linda, por venir ese día, me alegré muchísimo. Pronto nos vemos!! 

Kordula: Meine erste richtige Besucherin in Kolumbien, du hast mir so eine Riesenfreude gemacht! Ich hoffe, dass deine Reise schön weitergeht und wir uns wiedermal irgendwo treffen.   Dann brauchen wir auch Beweisfotos, weil so geht das gar nicht. 

When Béa and I got home, she started working and I started packing. My plan to work-hard-on-not-freaking-out-completely didn't succeed fully, I did freak out a little bit. As in, running around in circles almost crying over not being able to find a t-shirt. But I am most certainly not going to tell you any more details of that, believe me, you don't want to know. That would be a whole new kind of TMI that you do not want to get into. Trust me. 

I finished packing, or as-good-as finished it. Couldn't finish 100%, because it was Saturday and I didn't leave until Sunday, but I got far enough that I'd be able to work properly and use my mind on other things aside from my backpack. 

Then, the real farewell-party started. At least, that's what it felt like for me. 

You can see what a loser I am on Facebook, nobody likes my status updates. ::foreveralone::

In the evening, I asked Kordula if she wanted to go to a free comedy show and she said yes. So we went to the Éxito together, where I had to do some last-minute shopping for my move. She had a blast while I zig-zagged through the supermarket, trying to find the things I'd written on my little list. And I never write shopping lists anymore! Had to, because I'd get to item number four and already not know what item number one was. 

When the shopping was done, we took a taxi to my Bellavista, because I wanted to show Kordula what had originally made me want to keep coming back to Cartagena and stay there. The reason I first fell in love with the city, the people who I still count as my family cartagenera, even though I hardly saw them in the last months that I was there. 

Having dinner there together and chatting with Adriana, Monique and Enrique I felt finally ready for my trip. Kind of. Not really. But, you know, they closed the circle of friends and family that I wanted/had to see before leaving. 

The translating continued until late at night and the next morning Béa and I had Mila breakfast again, though not really, we just ate our desserts that we'd brought home the day before. But still, in a sense that was the real mila'st breakfast.

Yes, I used that stupid pun again.

Deal with it.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Good-bye, my dear Cartagena...

Due to some unexpected technical difficulties, this blog is not up to date anymore. But I'm setting that right today, by telling you what's been going on since the last time I wrote. Which is exactly what a blog is really supposed to do... well done, Captain Obvious! 

The last thing I told you about was the craziness that are the festivities accompanying Cartagena's Independence Day. A lot has happened since then, as well you know, because I did tell you I was going to move away from Colombia to Trinidad and I also mentioned being in Florida in the last post. This entry here is about saying byebye to Cartagena and my friends there. 

My flight out was on Sunday, the 11th of November, so we had bit of time to do some fun weekend stuff before I left. Friday afternoon I was just leaving to meet Kordula to get a phone for her so we'd be able to be in touch more easily - it made sense, because her plan was to stay in Colombia for a few weeks. And as I was leaving the apartment, Béa told me to be back at 5PM, because we had a plan for 5.30PM. That made me nervous, because she wouldn't tell me what that plan was and I really didn't know what she might be up to.

Still, I came back in time and she told me to change into something pretty and put on make-up and nice shoes. See, I'd known all along that I had reason to be nervous! She was having me do something, I don't like when people make me do stuff. Especially when said stuff involves mascara and high heels. Hrmph... And then we went out and even walking she wouldn't tell me where we were going. So in order to show my appreciation of her trying to surprise me, I made a real effort to be on my best behaviour: complaining about my shoes, complaining about my feet, complaining about the heat, complaining about the wind that wouldn't make the heat less stifling but messed up my hair, etc etc etc. 

The good thing is, she knows me well enough to just laugh about it and not take me seriously. 

Unfortunately, both our cameras were out of battery, so we didn't bring them and neither one of us could take any pictures. That's why I can't show you that really beautiful place Béa took me too for pre-dinner cocktails. It's a bit like Café del Mar, but somewhat smaller and quieter and it looks out over the little plaza in front of the Museo Naval, not over the Avenida Santander with all its traffic. We had mojitos de maracuyá, which were extraordinarily delicious - so much so, that we had two each. But worry not, that did not get us drunk. 

Next, we picked up Kordula from her hostel and went to Getsemaní, where we know this nice little bar/restaurant called Malagana. It has a rooftop terrace, which is always nice and cool because of the steady breeze coming in from the sea. We were there in time for their Happy Hour, so we go more mojitos, regular ones this time. And we also had food, which I'd never had there before, because usually we just go for drinks. The food was excellent, I recommend that place very warmly. After eating, the second half of our drinks arrived - Happy Hour means that you get two drinks for the price of one, but not at once so you can't beat the system by buying one Happy Hour cocktail and thus having drinks for two people. Everybody orders their own and when you're done with the first, you get the second one. Their timing is impressive, though. So yeah, again we had two mojitos. But worry not, that still did not get us drunk. 

While we were there, Silvana arrived with her sister. I wasn't really surprised to see here, because the day before we'd talked about going out, all of us. So I'd just assumed she'd show up and Béa's and her plan to surprise me didn't work out. But it was great to see her and the evening just kept getting better. 

From Malagana we went on to yet another place, one that I've walked past many times and that I know a lot about, but that I'd never actually really been to, because they often charge for you to get in and it's very pricey. But we were there early, so there was no cover and we also got a nice table right away. My first time in: Café Havana Cartagena. 

Now the best thing about that was that they'd chosen the place as our last stop, because they play salsa all the time and the girls know how much I love that music. How sweet is that?! Very, that's how sweet that is. Very. 

There, the real surprise happened. We were all sitting there, sipping our drinks (more mojitos, yes), when all of a sudden Álvaro was there! All of a sudden, out of nowhere, like whoa! Now that was a surprise, hats off to Béa, Silvana and him. 

Now I had all three of my Cartagena sweethearts with me, the people I'd spent the majority of my time with (though obviously Béa wins first place by veeeery far). And on top of that I had my friend Kordula, too, all the way from Austria. Happy times. 

We didn't stay out long though, because the next day I had to pack and Béa had to work. And also, we were really drunk. No! Joking! We weren't drunk at all! Five mojitos and the result: nothing. I guess drinking all that rum every weekend paid off after all... 

The quality of the picture isn't so great, because it was taken with a Blackberry.

Crazy, but happy too. On top of Malagana.

Love those two girls.

And last but very definitely not least, my dear Álvaro.

Thanks to Silvana for sending me all the pictures. 

Thanks to Álvaro for coming out to meet us. 

Thanks to Béa for... just... everything. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012


Today is Cartagena's Independence Day, but I'm going to tell you about the part of the festivities that happened Thursday, because I'm not in Cartagena anymore and thus couldn't participate in the craziness that must be going on there right now. I'm already in Florida, had to come up here to catch a flight back down - to Trinidad. That's happening tomorrow. Now, I'm at Nico's house, remember him from the last island post

So my good friend and former university colleague Kordula came to visit me in Cartagena before I left and on Thursday there was the first big bando, where reinas from all over the country parade along the Avenida Santander and there's loud music and tons of people. So in order to be able to show her what the costa is all about (no comments about how that's not really all, I know that, I'm just saying...) I picked her up from her hostel in the evening and we headed over to the muralla to hang out with a friend of mine and his friends. 

The pictures you're about to see here are not from the evening per sé, because I'm not crazy enough to take my camera out into the street on a night like that. They're from the afternoon, taken from our various balconies. We were actually both supposed to be working, but there was so much noise (LOUD NOISES!!!) that we couldn't even hear our own thoughts so there was nothing left to do but watch the happenings from the safety of the apartment. 

People gathering before heading into the crowd. Yes, they're dressed up and yes, they're full of foam.

Waiting for the fun to start.

The main tribune of the parade is right in front of the apartment door, it was loud and crowded (it got a lot fuller later).

"Espuma a cinco mil!!!"

When it was time to go out to pick up Kordula, I actually had to call my friend Juan Pablo because I was scared to go outside by myself. It was so extremely full of people (and I'm just really bad with crowds) that I wasn't sure I'd make it all the way to her hostel by myself. And the other thing, the more important thing, was that people were throwing buscapies. Those are firecrackers that people light and then throw on the ground and they'll flail around and explode one after the other and it looks like they're chasing your feet to explode against them, which is why they're called buscapies - foot seekers. I am incredibly scared of those things, because I've actually had a big firecracker explode against my foot once, somebody threw it at me without thinking. Scarring experience - only figuratively, lucky me. 

He came to pick me up and together we went to pick up Kordula and, guess what, our faces were full of foam as soon as we'd gotten about 30 steps from the house. Strangers will spray you, especially if you look like you don't want to be sprayed. So the best thing to do is put on some clothes you don't care too much about and embrace the madness. We did that. 

See, the thing is that foam isn't the only thing they'll throw/spray in your face: there's also maizena (corn starch) and azulín (some weird blue coloured powder you can use for dyeing) and some weird red liquid that will leave your clothes and skin coloured for days if you don't have strong enough soap. Yay..? 

After picking up my friend, we spent a while by the city wall drinking aguardiente and listening to music and annoying about 70 police officers who had chosen the spot where we were hanging out for their meet-and-regroup. During the fiestas de noviembre there's more petty criminality in the centre, because with all the crowds it's so easy to pickpocket. That's why there's a lot of police about the centre, trying to make sure no situation will escalate. I don't want to go into detail here, though, and I'm also not going to talk about what I think of all that, because this blog is supposed to be fun and I don't feel like big political discussions. I'll just leave you with this little gem: apparently it's not a good idea to go offering aguardiente to police officers, or at least that's the reason Juan Pablo and his friends gave me when I asked why they wouldn't let me. 

When the first magnum bottle of aguardiente was empty, we all got into a few taxis and headed out to the barrio Pie de la Popa to listen to more music and even dance a bit by some bar/bakery/street corner. More fun there, but then Kordula started feeling her headache (a lot of traveling in the previous days) and I started getting tired (working and noise and dancing...) so I got another taxi for the two of us and took her home. 

I walked back home from the hostel, which is located at about 5min from the house, and was extremely glad to see that the crowds had already dispersed completely and I had nothing to worry about. As in, I didn't have to be aware of possible buscapies-attacks. 

Fun night, definitely. But I'm glad I'm not in the middle of the fiestas anymore! 

Now I have to go, I have to eat my burger: 

Nico's roommate Luke is a grill-master - and I helped, I cut the tomatoes.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Halloween, cartagenero style.

Halloween. That happened. I'm not sure when it happened, but it did. The thing is, when the 31st of October is a Wednesday, people get confused. Do you celebrate the weekend before? Do you celebrate the weekend after? Do you celebrate in the middle of the week? No, that's not an option. People work. So, do you not celebrate at all? That's what I usually would have done, simply because I'm not the biggest fan of putting on a costume and looking like a crazy person. But lots of people around me are, so I let them convince me (infect me) and we all got dressed up and partied. We all, in this case, means Béatrice, Álvaro, Silvana and me. 

Béa became an evil witch. A wig of fiery red, long hair. Dark make-up. A long black dress, that looked like it was full of lightning - in red, pink and orange. We'd gotten our nails done on Thursday and in anticipation I asked Martha to make her nails orange-yellow with a red French and spiders and cobwebs. They looked great, still do as a matter of fact. 

Álvaro didn't expect to fall victim to the Halloween madness, that was going on in the house and came over without and weapons. So I got him and used a combination of Béa's and my make-up to turn him into a dead person crying blood. Poor guy, but he had fun - whether he admits it or not! 

Silvana became a dead cat. She'd brought her own cat ears and then we did the rest. Béa did her basic make-up, because she knows how to and is really good at it, and then I "killed" her. When you see the pictures, please bear in mind that I'm not a make-up artist or anything like that, but I really did the best I could. 

I, well, I became a fairy. A "physics fairy superhero", but you can't really see that unless you know, to untrained eyes I looked like just a random fairy (I'd originally wanted to go as Heisenberg's Principle of Uncertainty, but I was told that wasn't elaborate enough). Without wings, too, but True Blood has taught us that fairy's don't need to have wings, necessarily. Béa and Silvana worked together on my make-up and hair and I had a pretty mask and fake purple eyelashes. Really long ones. Yay! And I'd also gotten special nail art from Martha, two different shades of purple with flowers, love them. 

So now, in order for you to know what the hell I'm actually talking about, pictures.

Béa's witch nails.

Fifty shades of ... purple.

Detail of my right eye. Love the lashes. 

Almost a girls' night out - but all three of us are glad it wasn't, wouldn't have been half as much fun without Álvaro! 

Curiosity killed the cat? No, a fairy did. And then she killed the witness, too.

And when we were all ready and had no more rum at home, we went out. To what we though was going to be a dress-up party at Mister Babilla. Yep, we though. It wasn't. We were the only people there wearing any kind of costume. Apparently, the problem of not knowing when to celebrate Halloween had been resolved by most people by celebrating the weekend before. 

But we had a blast anyways. 

And more rum. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Public Showers?!

We have no water right now. The pipes went dry some time around midnight (Actually, around the same time the worst musicians in the world started making really loud noise - I'm not calling that music... - on the terrace of a building across the street from us. Maybe, those things are related?) and the water hasn't come back until now, the next afternoon. 

Usually, when there are repairs going on and the water is turned off, there's a notice and we get to know when it'll be turned off and for how long. But not this time. The whole area is without running water and nobody has any information as to why and for how long this will be going on. It's very strange. And somewhat annoying. 

The most annoying part is not being able to take a shower. We got some water from a rooftop reservoir in the morning, so we can fill up the tank of the toilet and we have our own drinking water, because we don't have a filter for the tap. But the shower is a different matter. Not enough in the reservoir to supply that. And the worst thing: it was really hot all morning! 

Not anymore, though. 

A storm came brewing. 

Bad, you think? No. Perfect! 

First and foremost, it's not scorching hot anymore and we can relax now. There's wind to cool us and the clouds are blocking out the beating sun. But also, it rained. Heavily. 

So what did we do? We went downstairs and basically showered in front of the house. No, not naked. And yes, without soap or shampoo. We're not going to cause a scene or pour chemicals into the street drains that empty into the sea. But shower we did. 

I'll be honest, Béa had to convince me. It was her idea and I'm still as shy as ever, so I didn't immediately warm to the idea. But when she came back upstairs and looked so happy, I had to go too. And it was glorious!!! 

Hysterically happy!

Yes, we went out in our clothes. The idea of going in bikinis had come up for just a second, but I'm really glad we didn't change into them, because our portero and the parqueo guy were already delighted enough with the show we put on - unintentionally. We just had the greatest blast splashing around and taking what has to have been the best shower of the year, fully clothed yet barefoot and in the middle of the street. 

The dresses have been hung up to dry, we're all cozy on our respective couches, now let the lazy-Saturday-afternoon-movie-entertainment begin. 

Let's just hope the power doesn't go out. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

TT-10 Days!

"What's in ten days? Why didn't you correct that typo where you wrote TT instead of T? What's going on? Tell me now!!!" what I would be asking (loudly) if I read that title on somebody else's blog. 

You didn't ask me, but I'll assume that's because you're not actually next to me and can't just ask me. You'd have to post a comment and wait for me to see it and then reply and then at some point, probably days later, you'd know. I'll just tell you right here. 

Remember when I wrote "when I get back to Colombia"? Well, that's because I'm leaving Colombia. Not forever! Just for a little while, for 2.5 months, to be exact. 

Now, I think that some of you will already have made the connection at this point. Remembering past blog entries, figuring out the wordplay in the title, you know... 

For those who haven't figured it out, let's go step by step. There's a countdown, I'm leaving the country in ten days, the question is where am I going. We all know it's not back to Europe. I just left, I can't already go back, so let's not discuss this (Yes, I'm talking to you, grandma.). OK, what's the one place that I've been going crazy about like a four-year-old does with Christmas? You know, the place I couldn't wait to get to and then enjoyed inmensely while there and then constantly remembered after leaving? No, it's not a bar. Shut up now, I don't drink that much. 

Of course it's Trinidad and Tobago!!! 

How come I suddenly decided to really go there and not just dream about it like I did before? Well, the thing is I'm really not bound to Cartagena or Colombia in any way. I don't own anything here, I don't work here, I'm really just a tourist - in the eyes of any state official. I've known that all along, but I only really realised it a little while ago, having to explain to lots of new people what I do for a living. I mean, I got this job so I'd be able to take my work with me wherever I go, so why not actually go places? All I need is my computer and an internet connection, it's that easy. Yes, I've come to Colombia, but I mean more places. Being Austrian is wonderful, not just for the plain fact of being Austrian. It's also wonderful, because as an Austrian I get 90 days in a place without a visa, that's three months. Three months to explore a place, get to know it really well, and figure out if I want to stay longer. And when I find that place where I really want to stay, like stay stay, for a long time, then I can figure out ways of getting a residence permit for more than three months. So I'm going to start moving around now. And TT is the first step. 

I was a little put off at first by rent prices in Port of Spain. That city is freaking expensive!! More expensive than Cartagena, or Bogotá, or even Vienna. I mean, seriously? 1,500 USD for a tiny apartment, that's a little too much. But here's where my incredible luck enters the story. I was looking for places and couldn't find anything affordable, so I asked my friend Nella if she knew of anything and could maybe help me find something. And you know what she said? You know what she said?! She said I could stay with her!!! That girl is... she is... I don't even have words. Sometimes I am so amazed by what incredible friends I have, I don't even know how to react anymore. I really don't know if or how I deserve all this love I keep getting from people (like her, like Béa, like my family, like so many of the people in my life), I can only try my best to be as good a friend to them as they are to me. 

So as soon as I was finally able to accept that she really meant it and wasn't just joking and grasp the meaning of that - namely, that I now really was able to go and wouldn't be stranded - I only had to find affordable flights. And, thanks to Spirit and Caribbean, I found them. 

And this is where we are right now. In ten days, I'm leaving Cartagena to go up to Fort Lauderdale and fly down to Port of Spain the following day. Ten days. 

Ten days to get all my things in order, ten days to pack (which is going to be a challenge, as I have more things than fit in my backpack - again), ten days to finish a work project so I don't have too much stress when I get there, ten days to say good-bye to all my friends here. That, unfortunately, includes Béa. But that's not going to be as hard as I now feel it'll be, because she might come visit me. Or, at least that's what I hope. 

I'm very, very excited! And nervous. It's a big step after all to move to a new place, even if it's just for two and a half months. But still, the excitedness prevails, as I'm really, really, really looking forward to being back in TT. Really! 

See you soon, TT. 

PS: Sharks, prepare yourselves.