Gringo Life

Becket and MK

Hola! Sorry for the delay in my posts. It’s kinda that awkward length of time like… everything okay? Well, everything is just great. Who knew staying at home with two small children would be so consuming. Just putting thoughts together and going to the bathroom on my own is a daily challenge. So writing thoughtful words has not been happening as regularly as I wish, and therefore taken a back-burner, a back-burner to living the life that I want to write down here someday. And in 2020 as we all promise to do great things, I will promise nothing, but will try hard to share my experiences better.

Santo Domingo (Comuna 1) stop on the Medellin Metro Cable (first public transportation utilizing a gondola system in the world) built by the city to help these people in this poor area of town that would walk for hours up/down the hill to work. One of my favorite days so far!

So where do I start after 2 months? That is the question. I think diving into something called “gringo life” would be a start. So the term “gringo” is used for those foreigners living abroad, a slang term for an expat, of any nationality other than its hosts. But gringo is also reserved to those expats that you can spot from 10 miles away. Those people that you see out and just cringe at the way they try to speak Spanish drawn out for an excessive amount of time, “GR-A-CIAS’. And that is even if they try, meaning try to speak the native language. Ugh, so obviously foreign and such an obvious gringo. You can spot it; the Patagonia, North Face, backpack, flip-flops, big hat and shorts. They are here for the instagram photo. For a good time and story to tell their friends back home, wherever that may be.

Jardin Botanico of Medellin, Botanical gardens. A free 34 acres slice-of-heaven park in the middle of city. Kids are looking at the about 20 iguanas nested in the trees.

Well speaking from someone who came here with a stash of my beloved Patagonia attire, flip-flops and yes, everyday I do sport a backpack (#diaperbagtraveler), I am trying to change that term. Yes, we are a gringo family, and so obviously that. I am not trying to being anybody but us. But I am here for more than an instagram photo and story. We are here to immerse ourselves in this wonderful culture. We want to order what the locals do. We want to speak like the locals do. We want to buy where the locals buy. And everyday for the last 2 months we have been trying to do something along those terms. Which often continues to entail making a complete and total fool out of ourselves. But I can see it, the change.

Kids playing with neighborhood friends at the pool. This is the majority of their Spanish lessons interacting with other friends we meet. Always amazed at how kids can instantly be friends even when they cant communicate.

The change that my daughter now aspires to be the girl at the park that “Mom, wow, that girl can speak both English and Spanish and I want to do that!” She willingly asks me how to say things in Spanish and even ordered her own food the other night in Spanish. I can see the change that my son now regularly says “ciao” to people without prompt. And the hubby, well we are still working on him, walking around daily in his shorts and REI t-shirts, sticking out like a gringo. But to his benefit… it is difficult to find things his size in this country. And myself, well I see a lot of change. I see a strength I never knew I had, a freedom I never knew was there. Somedays I recap the things we accomplished and I feel like I am taking 10 steps in the right direction. And then other days I talk to a lady at the amusement park in Spanish telling her about our time there before and she looks at me and says in Spanish, “You don’t speak any Spanish?!” Well, apparently not and also not sure what language she thought I was then speaking for the last two minutes.

On the Metro Cable riding to the top of the rail to Arvi Park, an ecological nature reserve. Cheapest gondola ride I think there is, took about 20 minutes to get to the top. Total cost of riding for our family was <10$USD.

But in the end, in the past two months since my last post, I have certainly changed. We have changed, in ways I may not be able to write down or explain. But the change is good and we are here to continue to explore what this is. And in the end we hope to come out, well… a little less gringo. Thanks for being patient and sticking around.

Our first metro rail ride! Medellin has the only rail-based metro system in Colombia. So cheap and such an efficient way to travel.
Every grocery store here has isles like this dedicated to Arepas. They are a Colombian staple food, one of the most popular. They are comparable to what a tortilla is for Mexico or what bread is in Italy. They are made from corn flour and can be served in many different ways.