Culture shock — or the lack there of

By definition, culture shock is a personal disorientation, including four phases:
1) honeymoon
2) negotiation
3) adjustment
4) mastery
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culture_shock

After 2++ months in CTG, I feel I’ve faced it all, yet I wouldn’t categorize myself as disoriented. I’ve felt at home from the minute we had moved into our own apartment. I’ve felt as if CTG is closer to some of the Swiss and European behaviors than the USA are, ie the whole lack of personal space ordeal: as if we recognize that in Switzerland (think standing in line at the bottom of a ski lift…). Additionally, I’ve found products in the grocery store I hadn’t seen in ages since they’re not sold in the USA.

I like to think having moved from one continent to another before, I’ve dealt with culture shock, got it out of my system many years ago. Change so good, I enjoy it, adjusting to knew things brings personal growth…

May the honeymoon never end, may I negotiate and navigate myself through the daily life in CTG. May I master Spanish so my brain adjusts faster from one language to another!

Rear view mirror: week #9

Another week has come and gone. They (who’s they anyways!?!) say home is where the heart is well, mine is here, and not just because husband man is here. It’s the community that welcomed us with open arms, the smiles of somebody working at a store, the free tinto while getting a manicure (!!) and waking up overlooking the bay and witnessing sunrises definitely adds to the heart being at home!

Week 9 included saying goodbye to The McGukins, having a lovely farewell breakfast for both Liza and Susan as well as farewell dinners with the McGukins and friends at El Santísimo — which is great for group dinners.
When a family leaves, another one arrives: welcome Ashley & Mike. Overseas post are a bit a revolving door, tours are at least 2 years long, some families stay the maximum of 6 years, but regardless, people come and go.

Between playing tennis, Spanish lessons, walks in the bay, the gym and coffee dates, it was a fun week. The highlight definitely being the Maltz Challenge…(see separate post)

We like spending a relaxing hour or so at La Mansión. We go there on Saturdays after the gym, I drink coffee, we chat, we people watch and we definitely appreciate our surroundings and the gorgeous weather we have had thus far….

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Palo Santo (3/1)

Better late than never….
I saw PaloSanto from a cab on the way home from the old city few weeks earlier and decided we should try it!
I’ll let the pictures tell the story — we loved the food, service was great and the live music added an extra touch to the experience.

Appetizer plate — we didn’t know what it would entail, but we weren’t disappointed!

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Arroz con marisco

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Shrimp with maracuya sauce

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Maltz Challenge

Well, today, Friday, March 21st, the Maltz Challenge was completed all over the world.

In honor of the fallen, we all came together and completed the challenge. Full or half, fast or slow, despite it being a timed event, this was about more than a personal best or running the fastest 200m/400m ever. This was about being a family, this was about waiting for the last person to finish the sit-ups and run the second 400m as one, or crossing the finish line hand in hand.

For me, it was the first time I participated, and it won’t be the last. Yes, I am competitive, yes, I might have ran the first 200m split as if my life depended on it, but I completed the entire challenge along side another female, we ran the second 200m hand in hand, and I couldn’t have been happier.

I’ll aim for more in 2015…rumors have it, I’ll be doing the full Maltz then.

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CTG blogs, articles and websites

These are my favorite blogs, articles and/or websites about CTG as well as Colombia:

http://www.cartagenaconnections.com/blog.html
http://www.bonappetit.com/restaurants-travel/city-guides/article/already-thinking-about-your-next-vacation-make-it-cartagena-colombia
http://www.colombia.travel/en/official-bloggers/entry/rainbow-nelson/gourmet-cartagena-5-great-places-to-eat-in-cartagena
http://www.mycolombianrecipes.com/
http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/285
http://www.cartagenadeindias.travel/cartagena.php?la=en

If you find others, send them my way!!
💛💙❤️

For the love of books

I read. I read a lot. Always have, always will. My preference is non-fiction reading, anything from biographies to history books, books about the world, different countries, people, ways of life, but also political books, books about successful companies, ie Starbucks, fascinate me.

When asked what indeed, I usually have a hard time answering, because I enjoy easing about dark periods of the last century, I have read probably at least 50 books about the Holocaust. Why? I want to always remember what happened, I want to never forget that this happened only a border away from Switzerland and it’s inspirational to read how the survivors (and also the many, many people from the different concentration camps that didn’t survive) kept on going. Anne Frank is who we all know, there’s also Sophie Scholl, a young girl who together with her brothers and friends fought against the Nazis, there are the amazing survivor stories…

Additionally, I’m very fascinated by the Middle East. It’s a melting pot, it’s colorful and reading some of the biographies or stories are very unique.

So here are a few of my favorite books covering the two topics mentioned above, but also other books. There are many more, but it’s a start:

The stoning of Soraya M: a true story
Extraordinary, ordinary people: a memoir of family by Condoleezza Rice
In the water they can’t see you cry: memoir by Amanda Beard
Guests of the Ayatollah: Mark Bowden
Leap of Faith: memoirs of an unexpected life by Queen Noor
A century of wisdom: lessons from the life of Alice Herz-Sommer (oldest Holocaust Survivor)
Sala’s gift: my mother’s holocaust story

Rear view mirror: week #8

We have officially been in county 2++ months, it’s occasionally hard to understand how fast time has gone by, how much we have already done and seen and how much I feel at home here.

Last Tuesday, our household goods arrived, couches, beds, kitchen stuff, the rest of our clothes, etc. It’s like Christmas and Easter, a birthday and Thanksgiving all in one — with a lot of hard work. We got the whole apartment setup by Thursday, there are still a few loose ends, but all in all, everything has been unpacked and found a (for now) permanent place to live. Will we move things around and change it, of course. For now — we are home, we feel like home!

Due to all the packing etc, I skipped Spanish for a full week, I’m ready to go back this week. I had to skip tennis on Tuesday, but got to play on Thursday.

I had my weekly coffee date with Jeanette on Monday. Just like I had c&c dates (coffee and conversation) in the USA, we have a standing Monday chat date. We did also go for ceviche, which was amazing. One of the other ladies hosted a group of friends for a farewell breakfast and at night, we raised a glass or more to start the goodbye weekend for the McGukin. We were fortunate to join them along with 15 others on Saturday for a great dinner at El Santísimo, and today, in a more quiet and private setting, said goodbye to our friends Liza and Dave and their adorable sons Colin & Griffin.

The bay still fascinates me, I’ve found several websites to look up the vessels coming into port (yes, I’m a geek!), I got to TaeBox twice last week and Anthony and I shared a very leisurely Saturday — it was a good week, it was a really good week.

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