The secretary of education in Cali had its own welcome events planned for us, and on Monday we made our way, not without getting very lost, to Comfenalco, which would become an important reference point in my future navigation of the city. We had a conference where we attempted to danced salsa to a live school salsa band, with some very little kids showing us how it was done. It was here that I met my mentor and co-teacher-to-be, Edith and Leonor. Their eagerness when I introduced myself and announced my school was really quite overwhelming. They embraced me with open arms and dragged me outside to get chatting straight away. They were absolutely great, full of enthusiasm and passion. I left with a buzz, excited to start at school after their holidays came to a close in two weeks time.
|Looking over Cali from the viewpoint at the Virgin|
We were also invited to a day trip, organised by the secretary of education, with the others on the program to a finca (farm) in the mountains in Yanaconas. Despite a delayed start due to some people thinking it was acceptable to arrive 40 minutes late, we headed up on a coach to a beautiful resort which took us far away from the hustle and bustle of the city so that all we could see was green all around. We had a lovely lunch and did a mini hike to the ‘Virgen nuestra señora de Los Andes’ from which we got a spectacular view of the city below us. The afternoon was spend in and around the pool before we had to head back to the realities of city life once again.
|Green all around in Yanaconas|
|The view from Gildardo and Edith’s Finca|
My new found love for fincas was deepened when I went with Edith and her lovely husband, Gildardo, on a day out to kilometre dieciocho. After being picked up in their jeep, they showed us the route I would have to take to school using the public jeeps, called gualas, that go up to the neighbourhood of Terron Colorado in the north-west of the city. Passing through we headed further up into the mountains, and suddenly it became clear why Edith had said to bring a sweater! After some delicious arroz con leche, we made our way down narrow country lanes which felt like they were taking us into the middle of nowhere. We wound up at the end of a track, where we continued on foot over some natural springs and mini paths until a beautiful house was revealed to us. Surrounded by natural beauty, herbs and fruits grew all around, ready to be picked and eaten, while children played on a rope swing and picked guayabas.
Gildardo took us around, proudly showing us everything before taking us to visit the houses of his sisters that were nearby. We finished the trip with a meal at Las Neblinas, a restaurant which literally was in the clouds that were hiding the mountain views from us. We had a huge tostada of plantain, with ten different salsas for us to dip into. I also had a very sweet agua panela (unrefined sugar cane in hot water) with cheese. Delicious! It was amazing and honourable to have spent the day with such a wonderful couple that I am going to have the pleasure of working with for the next five months. Their joy and appreciation at us coming to help them in their school was truly flattering and I hope that I can live up to their expectations.