Bogota · Colombia · Oliveto · South America · Teaching English · Travel

Meeting my team

Today I get to meet the woman in charge of the CRI program, Maria Fernanda and Sergeant Rodriguez who is in charge of the English program at the military center, Canton Norte. The CRI program is at the Central Rehabilitation military site and the Canton Norte site is at the military academy more to the north of the city. At the rehabilitation site, we English teachers work to teach soldiers who have been wounded in their service and are being helped to adjust to life outside the military.  At Canton Norte, we would be working to help officers and ncos to achieve basic English proficiency in 6 weeks time.

I got an email from Patricia notifying me of a bus strike today – it turns out that there is also a SENA (the school for students who don’t go to university but get training in a useful trade of sorts.) strike, so we are being advised to allow for extra time to get to our locations.  Traffic is already a huge issue here in Bogota, so traveling to and from work takes a very long time to go a relatively short distance.

I decided to take care of the bank today as well as finish up with printing forms for my makeshift lesson plan book. While walking to the bank, I bought an El Tiempo paper from a street vendor – it turns out that the paper was from several days ago, so I was officially ‘had’ for .60$! I felt completely foolish and my pride was hurt.  It was completely my fault as the newspaper was not wrapped in plastic and newspapers one buys from proper vendors are.

I came back to the hotel to get ready for my 2pm meeting. On the way back I tried to find a kiosk to put more money on my bus card. There are only certain places where one can do this and they are blocks apart and hidden. I am not sure why this is the case.  It makes it very hard for people to stay on top of everything.  It is very weird – I had to ask multiple people, but managed to do it!

I decided to try to go at least part of the way by bus to save some money and then uber it the rest of the way. It was so very slow going that I ended up cutting the ride even shorter that I had previously planned to do. I stopped at a coffee shop and ubered from there arriving at the CRI 15 minutes early!  I had spent 1 1/2 hours in traffic!  I am sure that soon I will figure all of this out and be much more efficient.

I met Patricia and another fellow that had been working for CRI for a month so far – her name is Shanelle and she is very nice and from New York. They were waiting at the front. We got checked in, then Simon arrived, then we went into the building where Maria Fernanda met us and took us up stairs to meet Sgt. Rodrigues and another man. We talked about the program and the difference between working with the wounded soldiers at the CRI location or working with officers and NCO’s at the military academy.

They wanted Simon and I, the new recruits to decided who would work at which location between ourselves. The Canton Norte sounded more interesting to me – more structured – so I decided to work for that one.  I will still get to work two days a week at the rehabilitation center, so that is nice.

I wondered after I said that though – because it turns out that the students in the program that I was told about don’t start until May! It also turns out that there is another teacher there, so… Like the Colombians are teaching me – TRANQUILA!! They then gave us a tour of the facility – it is amazing – they have all kinds of programs for the soldiers while they are being physically re-habilitiated. They have simulation buses so that they can learn how to get on and off the bus. They have a large kitchen to learn how to cook, they have sleeping quarters, a large pool, a workout rooms – rock climbing wall, as well as psychologists and social workers. They offer classes in English, Cyber Security, and lots of other subjects.

The Sergeant gave me a ride back to the hotel. We had a pleasant talk about motorcycles and politics. The drivers everywhere are so friendly and open. I have talked to them on almost every subject and have learned about the city, the way of life, the political situation here.

Patricia told me about a cute little restaurant called Oliveto. There was one around the corner from my hotel. I decided to try it out – it was relaxing to sit and drink wine and eat pasta!

My hotel is in a cute little area in the north in Bogota. It is called Usaquen. The little city was swallowed up by Bogota. It is cute, built around a square and it has older buildings. The streets are nice to walk, quite and cobbled in places. However, eating and drink in in the area is very very expensive. I was surprised at how expensive it was. The little restaurant I went to was in the area in a cute little building and not as expensive as I had imagined it might me. All in all it was a good experience and I’m sure I’ll be back.

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