Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Life continues here in Bogota

On the second holiday I experienced in Bogota (they happen often) Rene and I went to the Rosa district and walked around. We saw a guy playing saxophone (and he was good) and ate breakfast nearby so we could listen while he played. And yes, I did give him pesos for his great performance.

Random horse Statue for Karen.

We then went to the mall and I saw this cool display with hanging musical symbols. Super awesome!

Another mall with a gearwork heart.

It says the house in the sky (though in Spanish). It is apparently a restaurant up in the sky. Sounds cool, but we didn't eat there.

I have been eating much chocolate. Below you will note that kinder-panda is protecting my computer from potential dangers amid my apartment.

We had an AMAZING sunset the other day. I don't normally see the sunset since I am often still in lab when it sets, but I saw this one and am so grateful I got the next three photos and go to enjoy it (have I mentioned how amazing my view is from my apartment?).

Random butterfly.

Marlly went to visit her home in the Santander region and brought me back hormigas/ants which are a common food. They are huge ants, and are seasoned. I think they are ok, but personally wouldn't buy them except for people to try back home. 

Please not the awesome Colombian shirt in the photo above! More to come later.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Cell phone diaries: Bogota is great, and has anyone noticed all my photos are of food?

So what's next? My first weekend in town consisted mainly of Marlly and Rene showing me around town. Below is what quickly became my second favorite fruit (second only to raspberries). This is a Granadilla (google tells me that it translates to passionflower, find info about it here). It looks like a perfect alien fruit, complete with tentacles, and snot-like seeds that you can suck up without utensils, but I have to say, it is AMAZING!!! I try to eat one every day. 

There is this place called Burgertown that Marlly and I have been to 3 times since I got here 4 weeks ago. It is AMAZING!!! The food below is the minipicada, and it is steak, peppers, onions, cheese, fries on the side and it is delicious. They also have these sauces, and my favorite is this Garlic one.

Marlly, Rene and I also went to La Candelaria a barrio (neighborhood) nearby that has a bunch of tourist attractions. It is a beautiful neighborhood with delicious food. Also, I just want to throw this out there, but being used to Spanish and typing in English is hard. I keep spelling things wrong and needing to fix them (like I almost just spelt neighborhood like nayborhood). 

We went to this place with delicious Tamales that instead of being wrapped in corn husks are in plantain leaves and are GINORMOUS! and Awesome. They have chicken, beef, corn, and other awesomeness.

I got hot chocolate too.

We then walked down to the Plaza Bolivar and the Catedral Primada (seen on the left of the photo below). It was lovely!

This is the national capitol building (I just found out today that the President's house is behind it, for a time-frame this photo is 2 weeks old).

Please note the Futbol game being broadcast on what is the Congress equivalent building in the plaza.

We now move inside the cathedral. You may not be able to tell, but the ceiling has a painting of angels, and they made a cast of the foot of one of them and it is actually like the foot hangs out of the ceiling. Pretty cool.

So pretty. South America knows how to do Cathedrals!

We are now out in the plaza again. Please note the llamas that you can hire for a ride.

Next we took a cab to paloquemao which is a neighborhood to buy food, and SO MUCH FOOD THERE WAS! Imagine the Raleigh Farmer's market (one of the biggest in the U.S.) on steroids. Since getting here I have tried so many new fruits: Granadilla, Dragonfruit, Mangitos (little mangos), Lulo, and other fruits that I don't know the name of.

Sneaking a photo of Marlly!!!!

Also in Paloquemao they sell herbs, carbohydrates of sorts, and meat. And by meat, I mean you can walk into the market, look at a living chicken and think "I want that chicken for dinner tonight," take a chicken home alive, kill it and have incredibly fresh meat for dinner. Please note the chickens below.

And they have beef and pork too. Endless options!

That afternoon was the game. I took this picture to show you one thing in particular. Please note that the Police officer standing there with his dog is still patrolling the streets, but that he is doing so in proximity to the game. It is NOT an exaggeration to say that the city shuts down for the world games! GO Colombia!! And yes, this photo was the last game that we won in this world cup. More to come about the game we lost next time!

I keep loving life!!!!! You should all come visit me and have just as much fun as I am having.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Prelims.......the nerves are killing me!!

A friend just posted on facebook that he passed prelims. I still haven't heard yet though and I am having a little panic party. BLEH!

Update: I was given a rewrite. This essentially means that I passed, but that there were flaws that need to be fixed before we continue. So it is technically passing, but personally feels like failing. Whatever the case I don't have to repeat all of this again next year.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Cell phone diaries: I love this town

Hey all! Life here is as awesome as always. I have been very busy here in Bogota, but the nice thing about having very few friends (and no Carlin to distract me at night) is that after work, when I go home I can relax by reading or watching something. Personally I would prefer to have Carlin and the friends to keep me busier, but I'll take what I can get. At least I have Marlly as a roommate! She is great.

So the subsequent impressions of Colombia:

1. You can indeed identify some Americans just by watching. I am probably one of them too. But it doesn't always work. This means I cannot do the whole judging-a-book-by-its-cover thing, which actually feels pretty nice.
2. Subway has taken over Colombia. I haven't seen a single Starbucks, but there are Subways on almost every street it seems. 
3. I only have 2 roommates (oops! Mistook Rene for a roommate). I still haven't met Sebastian, but Marlly is SO patient with me and I think she is positively amazing. 
4. My roommates love hosting guests from all around the world, and are incredibly vocal proponents of couchsurfing. Since I got here about 1.5 weeks ago we have already had Belgian and French girls stay with us (5) and today a German girl is coming to stay too. It's kinda fun.
5. Food stand food here is cheap, and most of the time delicious! As in I can buy breakfast or dinner for about $1.10-2.50 USD if I want to. AWESOME!!!
6. Like everywhere, the closer to the university you are, the more expensive things are.
7. Futbol is HUGE here. More to come on this later.
8. My lab does super cool stuff. As in as I am sitting here right now typing a guy in the lab is a couple feet away dissecting brains. How cool is that?
9. Using a fluorescent microscope all day is not good on the eyes.
10. My boss here is awesome (How have I been lucky in life that all of my bosses have been awesome? I've never been in a bad lab, and I am SO grateful). 
11. The work week here is 48hours/week. Or more.

So for now I'll just show some pictures and explain them a little bit! First things first, last Sunday after finishing up last-minute packing I got on a plane, flew to Miami, and the onwards to Bogota!

After my first night here, I woke up to an amazing rainbow with an amazing view from my room (remember that I'm on the 31st floor? Yeah, be jealous). 

I even have the corner room, and one full wall is window, so the view is even larger than the panorama shown below.

The first day was a holiday, so Rene showed me around town, we ate some good food, and then I bought some necessities, aka food, and we went home. Then the first day was Tuesday, and I went into lab, got oriented, and then went to the Futbol game. Why did I go some of you may wonder? Well, duh it was Futbol. Secondarily, EVERYTHING in town shuts down for the games. As in, the university converted the lecture halls into auditoriums, provided snacks and drinks, and everyone stopped working to go watch the game. Below is where we watched it.

Please notice the full auditorium behind me. Everyone left work, and win we did.

To give you an idea of how huge this whole thing is, last Saturday I stayed home during the game, and when the first goal was made I knew right away. The whole city erupted in cheering, and it was as if I was at a Rise Against concert, but from my apartment. When I went outside during the middle of the game, the police who patrol the streets were all still on the street.....just stopped in front of restaurants where you could watch the game from the street. And they were watching the game. While on patrol. It really is incredible.

Another nighttime view.

Here is the university where I work during a nighttime shot.

Last Thursday I had to run an errand, and you can't really see it, but the security in front of that bank is holding a rifle. Out in the open. Standing there with it across the front of his chest. Wow!

Due to some paperwork problems I had to change the visa stamp I got from a tourist one into a student one, so I went to the office for foreigners (by the way, typing things that are in Spanish in English is hard. I do not recommend it). I had to pay ~$35 to do it too (dumb dumb double-dumb...by the way Courtney, it took me about 3 years to realize that I got and adapted that from you).

After changing my visa stamp I bought an arepa from a nearby food stand (best one I have bought since getting here) with eggs, cheese and ham. AMAZING!!! and only about $1.10 USD.

Instead of making me take a taxi to get back to school my boss had her mom pick me up, and we all met at her mom's restaurant. It was so cute! You should totally go if you come down here. It is an Italian restaurant, and was started by her Italian uncle, who is literally from Italy, so you know it must be amazing! I want to go with Carlin when he comes down, I just won't eat pasta.

The restaurant is named O'sole Mio.

I do not remember where I took this photo, but I think it was higher up in the University after my boss brought me to the university from her mom's restaurant.

And I am working with fish embryos! How cool! I tried to take a photo from the scope I was using, but it is hard to get one through just one of the eyepieces.

This super-cool building is light up at night, and changes how it is lit to depict certain things. Sometimes it is butterflies, sometimes other stuff. Can you tell what this is?

A walking/stalking tiger! And the one below is just diagrams on the same building about 30 seconds later. It is super cool and unique.

Well that is it for now. I miss and love you all!