Facebook told me today that my readers had not heard from me in awhile. Well that’s just rude. I don’t need that kind of pressure, Zuck! But he was right, it’s been a little quiet over here
watching TV on my couch at LJT headquarters in Medellin. But maybe my loyal followers want an update on life? What’s up? Well, you’re in luck because just this week I learned some Medellin slang and “qué más?” is one of the things my door guard taught me. It’s directly translated to “what more” but it means “how’s it going? what’s up?”. So today I will tell you qué is más.
Maybe you’ve heard… we have new neighbors! They moved in last month and we are having a great time. Zoe and Coco are inseparable except when homeschool, chores or Catholic school gets in the way. We call them the ZoCoShow. For most of the day we just leave both doors to the apartments open and they flow back and forth. Also flowing back and forth is a breeze that causes doors to slam and then certain father figures to startle and then sigh. At the end of the night it’s usually a round-up of all furniture and articles of clothing misplaced from one apartment to another. Read: the Cates don’t have a lot of furniture so most of the furniture that gets moved ends up over there. Also read: Zoe leaves a trail of pony tail holders, shoes and clothing wherever she goes.
But ZoCo aren’t the only ones having some good social time. Jamie and I have been enjoying regular lunches, trips to the grocery store, guilty pleasures like Real Housewives and a lot of food sharing and dinner prep comparison. We’ve had a few joint meals, cooked in, ordered in and going out. Haley’s contribution is usually banana bread and keeping a very
close… loose… nonexistent watch on the chillins when the adults go out.
Last weekend we had a birthday palooza. Jamie’s birthday was Saturday, Dan’s was Sunday AND he shared his birthday with Easter. We had cake (2 kinds!), confetti in the hallway, an Easter Egg hunt (note to self: those people over in Tower 2 have sticky fingers. Those were NOT your eggs, chicos!) and quite a bit of “let’s stay home and watch movies” time. I guarantee you that Zoe will not be celebrating her upcoming birthday in such an introverted and inside way, but who am I to judge. Just kidding, I’m really judging.
And in case you’re wondering about the culinary star of the show featured in the 4-part blog series centered on our new neighbors? The Instapot? Well, we named him Harry Potter and he travels from one apartment to the next. Hard boiled eggs, roasts, chicken and beans are all in abundance. We also share the rice maker (whose name is Hermoine GRAINger) and the fryer (Ron GREASEly) and the mixer (who has no name but needs one).
The Shermanitas are continuing their quest towards Spanish fluency. Sometimes Zoe sends me audio WhatsApp messages from school. Its fun to hear her speak to me in English but then immediately switch and yell something in Spanish to her friends about liking their fingernail polish or earrings (which is about the only way the girls can distinguish their personalities what with everyone wearing the same uniform!). After having a break for Semana Santa, the girls were happy to go back and see their friends again. Zoe in particular likes the routine of knowing what the next day holds, which classes she has, where she will be at any given time. I think we all know that Zoe loves Worldschooling the least. She still enjoys it, but she’s definitely looking forward to returning to traditional public school in the USA. Will she love it when she actually has to do it? Time will tell. Stay tuned for 2.5 more years. #somanyblogs #solittletime
I have a lot more to share with you about Colombian school, but I’ll save that for another day, after I’ve had a chance to process all the information I’m getting from the niñas every day after school. Spoiler alert: it involves a lot of twerking. If you don’t know what twerking is, you’ll have a little time to look it up before the next blog. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, though.
I continue to use my favorite taxi guy, JohnFreddy, for daily school transportation and my personal Colombian concierge guy. He is also my source for all kinds of questions about Colombian life, including what to take to a birthday party and what’s up with soccer games that seem to bring the entire city to a halt.
Extra Curricular Activities
A full day of school doesn’t leave a lot of energy for more stuff when they get home, but both girls are trying to pursue a few outside interests. Zoe is taking singing lessons with a young woman who graduated from our same Catholic school! Her teacher is working hard on Zoe’s songwriting and breathing techniques. Zoe is working hard on petting the singing teacher’s dog. Speaking of perros… not content with just a once-a-week dog, Zoe has volunteered to walk all the dogs in our building and has slipped her dog-walking flyer under the door of all the apartments. A few people have taken her up on it but the entire building knows her – and me. I think I need to permanently change my name on my passport to “Zoe’s mother”.
Haley has continued to perfect her specialty culinary item of banana bread with chocolate chips. At first her classmates were reluctant to try it but once they did they were hooked. Weekends are now spent making banana bread to share with the whole class. The occasional cooking class on weekends also shows up on the schedule, but mostly we keep her schedule loose for Teen Sanity.
Dan has discovered 2 different expat poker games and when he feels like losing money, he’ll check those out. He’s also discovered that Family Feud is on almost non stop on one channel here and Zoe has discovered her love of Cash Cab. I’ve discovered that American commercials make me homesick for Target and Red Robin.
And me? Well, my Pilates and yoga is on fleek, and I’ve taken on a volunteer job reviewing a new Spanish language program for some expats in town. When I saw a Facebook post looking for intermediate Spanish speakers who wanted to improve their comprehension, I figured they were basically saying “Allison Sherman, we’re looking for you!”. So I’ve been enjoying being their test user and giving them all kinds of feedback on their new program.
In most of our previous longer-term stops, we have favored life in the suburbs over life in the city. The noise and space is a big factor in that decision. But here in Medellin we managed to get an apartment that had enough space but was still in the city. I love it! I can walk to anywhere I need for daily life and take an easy taxi anywhere outside of walking distance. And then there’s Rappi. Rappi is the delivery service that will pretty much do anything you want. True story, there’s a section of the app that’s called “Rappi, do me a favor”. You can ask him to do whatever you want, including bring you cash! (Seriously!) We use Rappi for delivery of heavy things that we don’t particularly want to haul from the store.
But there is a downside to this convenient city life. The noise is formidable. The squeaky bus brakes on the hill by our house, the loud “look at me!” motorcycles (Harleys!), the seemingly continuous construction. And let’s not forget the occasional party in one of the 6 buildings near us that sound so close due to the echoing that it might as well be in the next apartment. The noise coupled with the fact that the climate allows us to leave windows and doors open all day long, well, it can drain a person. Okay, Dan mostly.
Another aspect of city life is the pollution. We live on a high enough floor it doesn’t bother us as much as it could, but I cannot deny that 75% of us have had more respiratory issues here than in other places. I now have an app on my phone that shows pollution levels for different areas of town. They say information is power but I’m not really sure what to do with the information. There is a program here called pico y placa that limits driving based on license plate numbers, to ease the city’s congestion and pollution, which is also formidable as the city has grown dramatically in a short time. Pico y placa doesn’t affect us much other than our school transportation guy has to take 2 days off a month.
So there you have it. I hope you’re happy now, Zuck. I’ve updated my readers. And I hope my readers are happy now, hearing that all is well in the City of Eternal Spring. I’m sure some of you would enjoy more frequent updates, while others are happy to finally have a chance to catch up on reading one blog before the next one comes in. You just can’t make everyone happy.
No one was surprised when we read that Allison made a new friend. We chuckled when we read that she managed to convince this new friend to not only move to Columbia, but move right across the hall. We smiled but was again not surprised. Allison gets things done! We were happy for her to have a buddy and couldn’t wait to read the weekly updates from their adventures. And we waited…and waited…
It took a while for me to connect the dots. Maybe Allison has just been super busy? Maybe she’s been sick? But slowly the reality hit me that my living vicariously through Allison during my insomnia 2am readings had little hope of returning. Had we been replaced by the neighbor across the hall? Allison has a live friend within arms reach whenever she wants that she no longer needs us, her faithful followers? What will we do? How will we go on?