(Yeah, online you read that right….Corey has finally blogged!!)
So, mind we’ve been in Colombia for 2½ weeks and I’m needed on the coast to help with the construction of a school. I don’t think nervous quite fit the fear that I was feeling. Sure I studied Spanish for 8 months. That doesn’t quite make me fluent. It just means that I can say my name along with a few common greetings and I know I know how to conjugate verbs and proper pronunciation, of Costa Rican Spanish. Well, first of all I’m not in Costa Rica anymore and Spanish is such a fluent language that its difficult to tell when one word ends and the next begins especially when they speak at the speed of light.

We need to take the van and we are leaving at 3 am. Oh yeah, I’m not traveling with anyone that understands English! (Francisco is a construction contractor that has worked with Mike (my boss) for more than 10 years and Ricardo, who is a student in the Master’s Commission program.) We drove until the first sign of daylight before we stopped for breakfast. …or at least I think it was breakfast. (A bowl soup that contained brown sugar and water along with a chunk of fresh cheese on the side and the cheese was nothing like cheese in the states. Straight curded milk!) As I understood, it was a very typical meal for the area. We spent the next few hours traveling on extremely windy roads through the mountains. Bogotá is 8,600 feet above sea level and Cienega is just barely above sea level along with the fact of crossing another mountain range. This is definitely not a good trip to take for anyone with a weak stomach.

We made another stop later in the morning for a bathroom break and brunch. No, of course they don’t know what “Gallo Pinto” is, a very common breakfast in Costa Rica and about the only brunch meal I understand. I stumbled through ordering and got scrambled eggs, rice and a plantain patty. Meanwhile, Francisco and Ricardo laughed a bit with me but both showed incredible patience with my version of Spanish, or Spanglish is more appropriate. We finally hit flat land mid-afternoon when we stopped for a late lunch-early dinner. Oh yes, I know how to order a steak in any language, well at least English and Spanish, along with yucca sticks, which are similar to French Fries but better.

My turn to drive again as its getting dark we just arrived to about the twentieth toll booth of our trip as the police wave me to the side of the road for a quick check. Not a good time to discover that my license is back in Bogota. I had my Colombian ID card but hadn’t had time to get a Colombian license yet and my Costa Rican and Michigan licenses were in a box with the family passports. Thanks to Ricardo doing a whole lot of begging, we were able to leave 20 or so minutes later. (More laughing at the expense of the “Gringo”) Around 10 pm we arrived at the hotel in Cienega. Yes, 19 hours of traveling in a foreign country and I was exhausted.