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Rated: E · Chapter · Cultural · #2276146
Trust Yourself. You know what's best.

I struggled with our relationship. We knew each other for fifteen years, lived together for six. His family had a staunchness that caused me to be frustrated. I like letting loose. I like to be impulsive. I like to dance. No one in this family danced. I felt an emptiness, an ache within that needed soothing. I looked at the classifieds. An ad read, "Teach in South America". Ooh. I sense the ache within my being feel stronger. I answered the ad and received an interview.
As I walked to my interview, through the Boston Gardens, toward the Commons and Brownstones, I felt as if I entered the timeless classics, imagining how it was to walk through the crisp trimmed hedges and carefully step over cobble stone walks up the iron wrought steps to tap the brass knocker on the door. A woman in her 60's greeted me at the door, so pleasant was her disposition and hospitality, I knew I might have a difficult time saying, "No" to her for almost anything.
She brought me down a long dark corridor to a round sitting area with a tv and VCR. I met her friends and colleagues. I was asked some questions about my flexibility, and "open-mindedness". They showed me a video of the exciting things they do with the children every day and emphasized immersion of the English. "All students leave the school completely bilingual."
Wow. I thought to myself. Imagine if the tables were turned. Could I learn Spanish in the same way. I was so impressed with the idea that a school existed in another land and their students graduate bilingual. I insisted on knowing more. My boyfriend of several years, with all my frustration was suddenly easier to manage.
"Hello Auntie!" I started. "I'm going to Colombia. It's only for a year. I'll be right back."
"Isn't that where the drugs come from?"
I countered her comment, "There is more than drugs in country." I found myself ready to defend a country I didn't know. The urge was strong. The desire to adventure my way across the globe and leave the staunch to see if I would be happy.
On the plane the anticipation baited me with extreme awareness and excitement to be alive and experiencing a different culture. Something within, the ache, felt at home in the sensual heat of Cali, Colombia.

He invited me to the town of his childhood and birth. I thought what a great way to travel this beautiful country, especially with a native speaker. I was still learning much of the language and already had an embarrassing moment or two. We were dating quite consistently regardless of our language differences. I came to Colombia to learn Spanish by living it because all other methods failed to make it a part of me. Guillermo was one among many eager to learn English. He set himself apart from the others with his piercing dark eyes, heavy but refine arched brow, strong Latin nose and disarming smile.
Meeting his three brothers and two sisters living in the same three bedroom apartment, which included his parents, gave me a strong sense of family unity. I desired to be part of this unity, discrediting my own historical origin for one that held strong influence, support and unwavering stability based in traditions important to them, their vivacious acts of celebration, I found, are their most important traditions next to God.
After a grueling ten-hour bus ride over roads that perceived to be past cow paths cut into the sides of the mountains and his adamant suggestion that I not speak while traveling so as not to arise guerrilla interest, enwrapped me in caution about my actions. We entered the local hacienda to rest and prepare for the birthday celebrations we had to attend. The relief of arriving, I understood why Colombians uttered a quick thanks to God with the sign of the cross after our long hours of travel. It made birthday celebrations more enticing.
The sun was descending to rest for the evening as we left our hotel to attend the one of five birthday parties. When we entered, I noticed couples dancing, children chasing each other with screeches of laughter and two older women cooking while the stereo deciballed Colombian salsa, merengue, cumbia and vallenato. Everyone greeted me with smiles and curiosity in their eyes; telling me how much English they learned and waiting for me to speak. Excited and soaking up every detail like a thirsty sponge, I watched, listened and nodded agreement where I thought the conversations warranted affirmations; speaking only when an emergency arose, such as asking to use the bathroom. Time seemed not to exist as we celebrated his cousin's birthday.
The night began to tug at my sleep strings, when Guillermo started his good-byes and apologies for leaving before the drink and food were gone. After saying farewells to each person and promising to return again, we headed toward another birthday celebration.
Upon arrival, we were greeted with the same warmth, curiosity and cheerful hospitality much like the previous house. There were adults and children dancing and more food to eat as if it was early evening. We joined the fun, ignoring our bodies' signals for sleep. As Guillermo and I danced, I stumbled through my question in Spanish, "Are we doing this again tomorrow?" He replied resoundingly, "Si!" Taking a deep breath, my thoughts ticker-taped; I'm sure I'll be language immersed and ready to defend myself soon enough.
It was true. The ache, the staunchness and the opportunity to live within another culture are with me forever in my Colombian husband and three boys.

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