Saturday, September 26, 2009

El Día de Amor y Amistad

El Día de Amor y Amistad

El Día de Amor y Amistad or Love and Friendship Day was September 19th. Since that was a Saturday, we celebrated it at school on the 18th.

The first thing I heard on the radio in the morning was a song that I hear every single day that has the lyrics, “Estoy enamorado traigado de ti…” meaning I’m head-over-heels in love with you. Pretty par for the course for the day, I’d say.

At school it was much like Valentine’s Day at school in the US – lots of chocolate, candy, and other sweets and a bunch of hyper kids. We played Secret Friend in our class. This is much like Secret Santa, but the gift is only given on one day. The clues student gave about their secret friends were, “S/he has brown hair…” Well, I think I’m the only one who doesn’t.

I bought a little gift for my secret friend called a 'carnation'. I thought this would be a flower, but it was a little package of candy and school supplies.

In the staff lounge I did appreciate the reggatón at lunch. I couldn’t help but compare and contrast: as much as this is like Valentine’s Day with the students, I couldn’t begin to picture reggatón playing with people singing along in the staff lounge at my old school.

Oddly, after school Karen and I attended an English language conference at this beautiful hotel, Hotel Prado. Not the best scheduling really. Even though we would have liked to have spent more time there, with our gifts of mostly candy* from students, our lunch bags, our backpacks full of books, papers, and our computers, we felt like exhausted bag ladies in a hot and crowded room. I felt like my teeth were going to fall out, due to the sugar I’d eaten during the day.

* Kären received one gift from a student that is absolutely hilarious. It is a necklace with a Playboy pendant with loads of bling bling rhinestones in a circle surrounding the bunny. This opens up to a watch inside, on which the brand name is Disney. Hugh Heffner and Walt Disney together at last! Strange gift from a ten year-old, but because we have no clocks in any of the classrooms at school Kären wears it to school daily. Here it is in all its glory:
Playboy on the outside

Disney on the inside

I arrived home and got to brush the teeth and confirm plans for the evening. Just as I went to take a shower, yep, there was no water. I headed off for the gym and was glad for the workout anyway. The gym is in the mall. There were tons of nicely dressed couples there for what appeared to be hors d'oeuvres and music in the middle of the mall. This setting was not exactly romantic to my mind. I received a rose by a beautifully dressed woman who was promoting the event, which I did enjoy.

That evening I was to meet Andrés and his colleagues at a casino for Love and Friendship Day. The casino was in a mall of course. Thankfully the slot machines were downstairs and we were upstairs. There was a Latino band and the music was good – in my opinion virtually all the music here is good. It’s a good thing I think so too, because music is always playing EVERYWHERE. People were friendly, but it was loud and at times hard to hear over the music. So many times it’s not that I don’t understand Spanish, it’s just that I can’t hear what is being said.

Saturday night Kären and I went out with a colleague named Cecilia to a bar called Cheers (since 2009 was written below the Cheers sign), like the one from the TV show. The streets were packed. I wanted to practice speaking Spanish, but because of the volume it was useless. Cecilia is bilingual and I couldn’t even hear her in English. This time however, since the bar was American style, the music I couldn’t hear over was English and from the 80's.

I gathered that Love and Friendship Day was not exactly the romantic holiday that I had thought it would be. It seemed friendship was much more the focus of this holiday. (Aside: This is far superior to how Valentine's Day is celebrated in Korea. I heard from former Korean students that people who do not receive anything from their loved ones on Feb 14th, celebrate Black Day on March 14th. This entails going to a Chinese restaurant to eat black noodles as a way mourn their singleness. Yikes!) El día de Amor y Amistad was a reminder that I would really like to meet more Colombian people. I’m hoping to spend more time going out with teachers from the school. Friendships happen slowly. I am thankful for my one Colombian friend Andrés.

As for now I am immersed in cultural differences. When in Rome…go to the Coloseum. When in Barranquilla...go to the mall.

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