I hosted my first blog carnival. If you don’t know what a blog carnival is, it is when you pick a topic (like “Living Around the World”) and ask bloggers to submit articles that relate to the subject you wish to talk about. I wanted to know about articles about life from various places around the globe, written by either people who live in each place, people who have expat in a place, or people that have visited a place long term. I want to learn about life in other cultures, countries, discover new blogs (not all travel related) and read other blogger’s point of view.
It’s amazing to me the little nuances and differences in how people live. Take in Alaska for example. Meredith from Snow and Mist told me about, in her post Maktak (which is a snack of whale skin and blubber), that in Alaska, children are allowed to bring knives to school, as long as that knife in an ulu.
In Close the F***in’ Window, Daniel Mcbane writes a hilarious story about two elderly gentlemen fighting over the status of bus windows while commuting one winter morning in Shanghai, China.
Theodora Sutcliff from Escape Artistes, told me all about a wild night in a bar in Katmandu, Nepal in her post Lula from UK. This post is comes from the middle of an ongoing, and hilarious story of mishap, and getting illuminated (aka: s-faced drunk) with some Gurkahs while traveling. This post is not-so-safe-for-work, but oh-so-funny-and addicting I recommend going back through the posts and reading the whole story from meeting them in Lukla.
In Renovation Stay-Day-Cation, Heather Blanchette (yes, my sister) writes about a day trip to the ocean with her husband and dogs to escaped from the toils of her current home renovations. Her blog, Like A Cup Of Tea, is all about homesteading and living in the countryside in Maine, USA – quite the opposite from me who travels the world, but she has the same dry, and witty amusement in her posts as me, and her photos are amazing.
Suz Crawt, from The Paleo Network, writes her thoughts on Indonesian life and family, and how she observes them in her post Are We Too Developed.
And to round up the Living Around The World, I received 2 posts about France. In Correr Es Mi Destino, Zhu writes all about The French and Their Bathrooms and how she doesn’t take any bathrooms fro granted anymore. Leyla Giray tells about New Years Eve celebrations in Seyssel: The Last Day of the Year in a Small French Town. This post is full of gorgeous photos from the countryside of France.
These posts give some insight to life in various places around the world. If you want to get your culture on, and see some various views from locals, expats, and visitors around the worlds, I recommend you check out these posts and follow these blogs.
CHEERS FROM CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA!
As I’m getting ready to head back out to Colombia, I’m getting all sorts of amazing, thought-provoking questions about the Colombian culture that makes me hang my head in shame at the education system in the USA.
So here are the top 11 misconceptions people have about Colombia besides the fact it’s spelled Colombia, not Columbia, and it’s in South America, not South Carolina.
1. EVERYONE IS IN THE COCAINE BUSINESS
Not everyone is a coke head, coke trafficker, coke farmer, coke producer, or coke mule. The USA consumes something like 90% of cocaine in the world. Although you can find it in Colombia, most people don’t do it. And no, it is not legal.
2. ALL WOMEN ARE HOT
Although there does seem to be a slightly (ok rather above average) amount of beautiful women in Colombia, not everyone is a super model. It’s like everywhere else in the world, people come in all shapes sizes and looks.
3. COLOMBIAN WOMEN ARE EASY/SLUTTY
Hahahahahaha…I love this one. To me, Colombian women are less likely to sleep with you because they seem to have more pride and self-esteem than girls in the USA. Of course, there are a few girls who are, but really, just because you may be the hot, exotic foreigner while in Colombia, doesn’t mean Colombian girls are stupid whores who can’t peg your sleazeballness from a mile away. Guys who come just to hook up with Colombian girls, usually don’t. A sleazeball is a sleazeball in any country.
4. THE COFFEE IS AMAZING
Actually, no. Like most coffee producing countries, the best coffee is exported. That’s how they make money. We wouldn’t all clamour for Colombian coffee if we got the sucky beans. In Colombia, instant coffee made with agua panella is very common, and when you do have roasted coffee, it is usually not as good as what we get in the states. Not to say you CANT get good coffee in Colombia, quite the opposite, but you will pay for it.
5. EVERYONE IN COLOMBIA IS POOR
That is about as true as the stereotypes “All Americans are rich” and “All American women are whores”. SOME Colombians are poor, some Colombians rich, and many fall in between. Yes, their average monthly wage is what some people in the USA make a day, but their cost of living is WAY less than ours. When people in Colombia ask me how much I make, I reply with what our utilities cost, often to their stunned disbelief. We often pay more just for electric than all their bills combined. In the end, it all works out about the same. It’s the currency conversion where Colombia has a staggering disadvantage.
6. THEY DON’T HAVE ROADS/HOSPITALS/DOCTORS/MOVIE THEATERS/ETC. ETC…
It’s Colombia. Their cities are the same as our cities, just with less English and more motorbikes. In the poorer areas and small towns, you will get smaller doctors, local shops, and more horses than cars, but you aren’t going to find a megamall in the middle of rural Maine either. And as for the health care, it is just as good as ours (or better because they treat patients , not just push drugs), but costs little or nothing. It’s a healthcare system that ACTUALLY WORKS (which is a very foreign concept to those in the USA, but it is possible).
7. COLOMBIANS ARE BASICALLY MEXICAN
Colombians are NOT Mexicans. They are also not Venezuelans, Chileans, Ecuadorians, or Brazilians. Saying that all South Americans are the same, or the same as Mexicans, is like saying all Europeans are basically Turkish. Mexico and Colombia aren’t even part of the same continent. It’s ridiculous. The customs, music, food, and way of life of Colombians are their own. And they are nothing like Mexicans. Which brings me to my next point:
8. THERE ARE LOTS OF TACOS AND SPICY FOOD IN COLOMBIA
Ok, even I thought South American food would be more spicy like Mexican food. I know Brazilian food is totally different, but I was surprised to find out that it’s really only Mexico that uses all the spicy peppers us in the USA have come to know. In Colombia you also won’t find tacos, unless you are at a Mexican place. The more traditional foods in Colombia are things like arepas, empanadas, and sancocho (a unbelievably delicious soup you have to try when in Colombia). There are also regional dishes, but these 3 seem to be everywhere in Colombia.
9. COLOMBIANS ARE PSYCHO OVER FUTBOL (SOCCER), AND WILL MURDER THE TEAM IF IT LOOSES.
This one also makes me laugh, because I remember this coming out when I was a kid. After Colombia lost in a World Cup or something, the team got murdered when it returned to Colombia. At least that is what the story morphed into. In reality the team captain DID get murdered, but that is because he was in with some gang dudes, and lost them a lot of money when the team lost. So they killed him. Moral of the story: Stay away from gangs kids.
10. ALL COLOMBIANS ARE EITHER GUERRILLAS, CARTEL OR BOTH.
That is about as ridiculous as the “All Americans wear cowboy hats and own guns”. SOME people in Colombia are part of these groups, but by no means all. And the number that are are becoming less and less as Colombia keeps putting efforts into cleaning up their reputations (which we gave them. Go USA!) and their streets.
11. COLOMBIA IS DANGEROUS.
Yes, and no. Parts are. Parts of New Orleans, Las Vegas, Detroit, and every major city in the world are too. There are parts of Colombia, Colombians don’t even go to, but in reality, most tourists have never heard of these places. Tourists want to go to Cartagena, Bogota, Medellin, and the coffee area. Those places are relatively safe, as long as you don’t do anything stupid (read my post on Tips On Not Getting Mugged in South America). You will want to listen to locals, and keep up with the local news if you decide to explore outside of these areas. Some areas (like in the southeast) are still heavily controlled by guerrillas. But, on a good note, it’s pretty unlikely they will kill you. They’ll just kidnap you and hold you for ransom for an undetermined period of time.
So these are the major misconceptions I’ve heard non-stop since I returned to Colombia. And though some people are just being insensitive and racist, many are innocently ignorant about the Colombian country. Hope this helps clear up some stuff about Colombia.
This is a re-post of a blog I did last year. But now it has pretty pictures to go with it!
And you can see what donating bone marrow is like now.
A little over a year ago I donated bone marrow. I try to give blood every 58 days. I’m the only one in my family with my blood type O+. And since I’m a universal donor, my blood is always the one used when there isn’t time to type people (say in a horrible accident or natural disaster) so my blood always runs out first.
About 7 years ago I found out about the National Bone Marrow Registry and decided to sign up (you provide them with a couple cheek swabs). Six years later, I get a call saying I’m a possible match.
Some people are on this registry for 30 or 40 years and never get a call, I was on for six.
So I went to have some blood taken. I never heard anything back. I tried to contact the bone marrow place, still never heard anything. I figured I wasn’t a good match and forgot about it. And moved across country. Suddenly like 8 months later, I get another call saying they wanted me to have a second round of match tests (give some more blood samples) done again because I am still a possible match.
REALLY? I was so surprised by this, because I pretty much forgot about it. So I went in to provide more blood samples (each time it was just a couple tubes of blood). Cool. ok. Didn’t hear back. Forgot.
Suddenly about 2 months later I get a call asking me how quickly I can donate bone marrow.
Wait, What? I match?
From here is was a crazy whirlwind 3 weeks. I had to watch a DVD and sign all these papers, multiple times, on the possible side effects and things.
Which really, for me it’s just a few side effects. It’s the recipient that has to deal with the real pain and possible complications and stuff.
And I qualified for this new way of donating bone marrow (which I learned during this process bone marrow is just blood stem cells), and this new process does not involved drilling into your hip!
I was totally ready to do the hip drilling, but hey, if you just want to stick a needle in each arm and spin my blood versus drilling holes in my hip, I’m totally ok with that too.
I filled out all the papers, got flown to San Diego for a day for the final tests (yes, they flew me, all expenses paid from Vegas to San Diego and back for a few hours of tests). And they give you a driver.
A week later I was flown back to San Diego to donate bone marrow, and was put up in a (swank) hotel for 5 days while they did the process. It involves being injected with a drug that tricks your body into thinking it needs blood; which in turn forces massive amounts of blood stem cells (marrow) into your blood stream.
On the 5th day they hook you up to a machine for a few hours that takes the blood out of one arm, spins it, separates the stem cells from the rest of your blood, then puts what they don’t need back into your other arm.
24 hours later you feel fine, just still a little tired.
3 days to full recovery.
I have photos detailing the bone marrow donation process (in Vegas, where I am now. Oh hey look…photos!)
It’s such a quick easy process with such a quick recovery and now, that’s its been over a year later, I actually got to contact the girl who now has my blood DNA! (by the way, she is absolutely adorable with the cutest smile ever, and 2 adorable children).
I’m really, really glad she is doing good (I didn’t think I would get so happy each time I got an update and it was good news. But it was an awesome feeling knowing that she was responding well to my blood).
I cant wait to meet her in person!
I think more people should sign up to be a bone marrow donor. It’s not a scary, painful process like we think. They don’t even have to drill into your hip most of the time anymore. (and you can opt to only donate if they do the blood spin-y process too.) A lot of people can be helped if more people would be willing to give a few hours of their time to donate blood.
Oh, and they give you Vicodin and Ativan before they hook you up to the machine. So, if you even stay awake, (which I didn’t, I slept through the process) you don’t care about ANYTHING! You actually quite love EVERYTHING.
Please, just look at the site on being a bone marrow donor. That is all I ask. Go to the website and just read about it.
You can always ask for more information to be sent to you without having to actually sign up.
It’s a minimal process. Yes, you get sore, but you are helping to save a life, and the small amount of soreness you endure is nothing compared to the pain the recipient has to go through with radiation and transfusion (while the blood take ahold inside their bodies).
Please just go to the Be The Match bone marrow registry website and read about it for me. It’s a great thing.
And you can help save a mother of 2 adorable children, so she can actually see her kids grow up…so her kids and husband aren’t left without a mom and beautiful smiling wife. Like this one:
(yes, I’m trying to pull at your heart strings. If it gets you to even look at the bone marrow registry page, I will totally pull the ‘tugging on your heartstrings’ card)
PS. No, this is not a sponsored post. But as a donor, I am also an advocate of donating bone marrow, and am just trying to get people to read about it more. Donating is your decision. I would just like to provide you with where to find the proper information so you can make that decision.
Week 3 – Have you ever studied or taken classes on a trip? What did you study, and perhaps more importantly, what did you learn while on that trip? What would you like to learn on your travels this year?
I’m (attempting badly) to learn Spanish right now. This is actually the first class or thing I’ve tried to study on a trip before. Mostly cause my trips usually involve long days of driving cross-country to a gig to work 17 hour days building steel. So I don’t study much.
I also suck at languages. So we’ll see how this works out. I actually failed English (my own and only language people) 3x in college.
YES, I AM SO AMERICAN I CANT EVEN SPEAK MY OWN FUCKING LANGUAGE!
But I am learning a lot of grammar here. And my teacher (and friend) is…guess what..
A Professional Storyteller!
Tell me how cool that is. Yea, and I’m talking like middle ages storytellers. She gets paid to tell people made up shit for a living. I can’t wait to go see her and other storytellers perform. I didn’t even know there was such a thing. But there is. There’s even conventions and stuff for it I’m finding out. (This photo comes from her training to also be a hospital clown. Like Patch Adams style. That will be another blog post).
Oh, I was on a topic….
What did I (am I ) learn (ing) in these Spanish classes?
The fact that I’m calling these classes “SPANISH CLASSES” is just a cover story, because if everyone knew that ‘Spanish’ really meant ‘Interpretive Dance’ then the whole of Medellin would be knocking down the hostel door trying to get their own lessons, and these are my lessons people. MINE.
On my travels this year I would like to learn…
Do you know how badass I would be in the roadie-rigging world if I had a prehensile tail. Plus I could just hang out in the ceiling all day and swoop down and blow on your ear, scaring the crap out of you, thus causing you to drop your coconut cookies (I love the coconut cookies here) and then I can steal them all for myself.
2. TO SPEAK SPANISH
3. If Spanish doesn’t work out so hot, I’m thinking of going for !Kung or Icelandic.
4. The winning lottery numbers for the next 12 Megabucks and Powerball.
This Spanish thing is my first attempt to take classes or similar while traveling. I love my informal ‘classes’. They are just me and my friend, and I get to learn words, slang, and culture all at the same time. Learning from a friend is awesome. Especially when you realize you’ve been having ‘class’ for 6 hours because we are just having to much fun going through a little kids book she bought me and going off on funny learning tangents.
Hopefully at some point this will pay off and I can start speaking Spanish above a 2 year old level.
But then again, I did fail English (my first and only language) 3 times in school….
This is part of Boots n All 2012 Indie Travel Challenge. I’m doing this in hopes of becoming a more consistent and better travel-blogger. If I don’t waste all my time searching for my own personal Doctor Moreau. Though I bet I would get great photos and posts from an island like that…. and maybe a cool prehensile tail….