None of us are too great to fail at anything but we are all greater than any failure. We live in an era where perfect photos, videos, success and love stories are shared on social platforms that often we ourselves believe our lives ought to be evaluated by. What we are oblivious to is the realness- diligence, commitment, tenacity, trial and error attempts – of those who strive to achieve what we see so perfectly through our lens. We think that if only we could do the same we’d be happier, more successful and more of something. In comparing our life to someone else’s, we discredit ours and imagine our happiness in another place that we have not yet reached.
Whatever your reality is, it belongs to you. If this includes failing, trying harder yet failing over and over again, it is still yours and beautifully so. None of us are too great to fail at anything and certainly, our failures do not determine our destination. Failure often forces us to pause, evaluate, strategize and persevere. If or when you do fail, know that failure is only a checkpoint in your journey, not your destination. It requires immeasurable courage to persist despite adversities but we are all capable of doing this. Our willingness to persist; that is another thing! Today, know that you are without a shadow of doubt capable of reaching your destination but you have to be determined to get pass ‘checkpoint failure’.
Another week, another update. This time, let me tell you about learning Spanish. When I included learning a new language on my Vision Board in 2019, I imagined doing it on Duolingo; 15 minutes every day – or whenever I remembered. Frederick, Teneisha and I began a hot and sweaty competition- as we Guyanese would put it – that led nowhere. The Spanish challenge wasn´t our first competition though, once before we attempted a weight loss challenge and ended up doing the opposite.
Fast forward to my far-flung reality. No Duolingo but Google Translator to the rescue for everything! For the road signs, menus and asking for directions- Google Translator! Remember Leonardo and me? That was only the beginning. I´ve used my translator to tell the taxi driver which terminal I was headed to, the bus operator which city and for asking a kind young woman to sit next to her since we were getting off at the same stop.
Because of my inability to communicate in Spanish, I declined many invitations from the Colombian teachers. I was always only smiling and drinking beers until someone remembered I didn’t understand anything and either translated to or initiated a conversation in English. Even as a courteous gesture, it always took them out of their way and I dreaded not being able to speak their language but I became more determined to learn.
With every opportunity, I´m practising my Spanish and I know it´s a lot more than I would have accomplished on Duolingo mostly because it´s not an option. Frederick thinks I sound like I´m biting my tongue off but it gets better with every try. In fact, one student and I have a current arrangement where he’s only allowed to speak in English and I´m only allowed to speak Spanish- with an exception to Karaoke. Yes, I´m out here killing it on the mic but that´s a story for another time.
I´m certain that if my Spanish teacher, Ms Janice caught me using the wrong articles and verb conjugations she would classically throw a stick of chalk at me. However, more than teaching my language to students here, it is a pleasure to become a student of theirs. Nelson Mandela said, ¨If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart. Es Verdad. I concur.
So much love in the air I can’t deny that I wish I was looking forward to Valentine’s Day with my family. I love the mysterious or unexpected bouquet deliveries, chocolates, cupcakes, wine and everything else. I’m here for all the mushiness Valentine’s Day brings.
However, I’m here in Colombia and I’m not looking forward to getting any bouquet deliveries, chocolates, cupcakes or wine. I haven’t given my address to anyone who would possibly surprise me and it’s very unlikely that those who have my address are going to. This is also not applicable to the person I promised to share it with a few weeks ago and haven’t. Talk about blocking your blessings!
This is my first Valentine’s Day away from home. Wait, I’m lying! This isn’t my first Valentine’s Day away from home. I was going to tell you how I’ve been having a lot of first of’s lately but I’ve done this before and I’m doing it again! The hardest part of first if’s, however, has been resisting the temptation to return to all things familiar- home.
My Valentine’s Day plans include showering myself with all the love I am capable of. Yes, some love for yourself on Valentine’s Day because how often we’re busy showering others with love while denying ourselves all that we deserve? Too often!
If you haven’t made plans as yet perhaps it’s a good time to consider being the recipient of your love. If you’ve already made plans to share your love with someone, I hope your heart overflows from their reciprocity.
Happy Valentine’s Day, Love! ♥
Before March 2018, Workaway was an unheard-of opportunity to me. In many regards, too, I held the belief that I´d only be able to travel when I become wealthy. After all, travelling does cost an arm and a leg or so I thought until Workaway became an option. I´d been scrolling through Instagram when I stumbled upon a photo Tracy Douglas, of Pandama Retreat & Winery, shared of two volunteers from Argentina. I was curious about this arrangement so I contacted Tracy who readily shared the information with me and encouraged me to go for it. From that time, I read blog posts and followed Workaway on their social media platforms. I knew I was going to do it! In fact, I´d been bitten by the travel bug as a President´s Youth Award Program participant a few years prior and I´ve never been the same since.
My Vision Board for 2019 included quitting my job, travelling and learning a new language. Of course, I thought I´d learn Spanish on Duolingo which didn´t happen but I´ve happily left my desk, subscribed to the Workaway community (a yearly subscription of $50 USD), planned my route through South America and everything that has happened thereafter has been a part of my best experiences. I am currently volunteering as an English Teacher at a British English Insitute in Tunja, the biggest city in the heart of the Colombian Andes, in the region known as the Altiplano Cundiboyacense, 120 km northeast of Bogotá with a population around 320,000 people. It is the capital of Boyacá department and the Central Boyacá Province. It´s also one of the first indigenous towns which hosts the most remaining Muisca architecture and traditions.
The agreement of my Workaway stint here includes a weekly schedule of eighteen (18) to twenty-five (25) teaching hours while the Institute provides accommodation, meals, Spanish classes and other recreational opportunities such as gym access for the volunteers. There are three other volunteers at the Institute who I share common living spaces with- living room, dining area and kitchen. Guillaume and Nastya; a couple from France and Russia, and Madison from Canada. So far, we´ve gone exploring the city together, trying new foods and teaching each other our languages. There´s no telling when this experience will end and I often miss the familiar things from home- Wavon´s Pork curry is at the top my list– but as my Spanish improves I feel more a part of my new home and it´s very possible that I´ll be here longer than I planned!
With Love & All Things Colombia!
Roasted Corn rubbed in cheese sold on the corner of the street
A part of my Blighty Bliss Family
Interior view of Church of Santo Domingo
Interior view of Church of Santo Domingo
A big platter of meat, pototoes and other Colombian foods. You may recognize the Black pudding.
Plaza de Bolivar, main qquare of Tunja
A lovely bakery neatly tucked away.
I am in love with all the murals here
I really don´t know how to act when I see these murals!
Madison & I trying the roasted corn