When we arrived in Cartagena it was very hot and muggy. A representative from the school was supposed to meet us at the airport. I don’t know what happened, but they weren’t there. Jay got the girl at the information booth to call someone for us. After about an hour, a driver finally showed up with some weak excuse about why the first driver never showed up. He drove us directly to the home-stay families with whom we would be living for the next 5 days. Jay and I were staying with different families, but in the same apartment complex. Jay was staying with a single, 40ish female attorney named Rubi, and I was staying with a 60ish woman named Jenny and her maid Rosa who appeared to be around 80.
Here is where I lived. click on the photos for the description and to enlarge.
Based on the info packet that the school had sent me I had concluded that my accommodations would be in a two bedroom, 1 bath apartment with 2 women: Jenny the owner and Rosa her maid. Turns out, it was a 3 bedroom apartment, but the other bedroom was rented to another boarder named Jamie who was a newscaster for the Colombia Radio Network in Cartagena. Okay, so now we are up to 4 people and 1 bath. Then Gustavo, Jenny’s son shows up. Apparently he lives there too!! That makes 5 and one bath! Over the course of the next 5 days there would be other family members that would come and go. I never did know exactly how many people really stayed there but there were times it seemed to bump up against 6 or 7. However, I will say, they were all very courteous to me and let me have the bathroom in the mornings when I was getting ready for school.
The interesting thing here is that Rosa, the maid, slept on a bed in the kitchen. No kidding!! Turns out that is fairly common in Colombia. At first, I was a little uncomfortable when I would go into the kitchen for water and Rosa would be laying on the bed in her nightgown, but she didn’t seem to mind and after a day I just got used to it too. There was no air conditioning in the apartment and Cartagena is very, very, hot. I had a very small room with a single bed and a fan. We were on the 4th floor and at night I opened the window for a little cool air. The cost for my room and 2 meals a day for a week was $140 including laundry service and all the Spanish I could handle. They did not speak English. I liked them all from the moment I met them.
Here are some pics of the family:
(I’m the one in the red shirt in the back)
Jay’s Colombian mom, Rubi, had a very nice well decorated apartment. She was a gourmet cook. He had a private bath.
We had arrived at our final destination in Colombia. It would be here in Cartagena that we would spend the next 5 days weaving ourselves into the fabric of Colombian life. The nice hotels of Bogotá and Medellin were behind us. Now, we were sharing apartments with people we had never met and who did not speak our language.
Stay tuned—school starts the next morning
See my other travel blogs on NewsOk.com:
Caribbean island of Barbuda: http://blog.newsok.com/thewanderer/category/barbuda/
San Juan with a 5 hour layover: http://blog.newsok.com/thewanderer/category/san-juan-puerto-rico/
Fly around the U.S. for the day: http://blog.newsok.com/thewanderer/category/day-trip/