Angell lives in a pueblo in the department of Magdalena, as a Practical English for Success volunteer.


I live in a village with two names. Officially, it is called Paz del Caribe, but it is most commonly referred to as Guandolo. A day in my life in sunny Guandolo can go something like this…

Guandolo, Magdalena

On Tuesday, February 20th, there was a teachers’ strike. This was supposed to be my day to go to my school at the villages of Don Diego and Perico Aguao. Well, when there are strikes, teachers participate and march in them, and there is no school.

Plans and schedules must be created with the mindfulness that those plans and schedules may not be carried out, such as that day. Time to wear the flexibility hat.

Because there is no class, I take advantage of this time. I inform my teachers that we will postpone today’s plans until the next class and run into the kitchen before my host mom wakes up. It’s 5 a.m.

I make breakfast. Thank you dear Aunt Jemima and your pancake mix. I heat up water for cafe con leche to wake up. At the same time, I prepare lunch for later.

The pressure cooker is still a mystery to me, but today, the menu is black-eyed beans and brown rice. I ask my friends who are good at cooking, Mia and Helena, and follow my heart to make black-eyed beans without blowing up the pressure cooker. Tomatoes, onions, and cilantro, bought from the extremely cost-efficient Campesino Mercado, are chopped with such velocity, I could be in a cooking competition. I throw them in, fry them, and follow with the beans and water. I pray that it will all turn out well. I wash the rice and start them in the rice cooker. Pressure cooker. Hissing. Dishes. Washed. Sweat. Wiped. Breakfast. Wolfed down.

Next station… laundry.

But, the laundry machine is broken. The side that washes and moves the clothes in a swirl is broken. I place my clothes in a big bucket, throw detergent, and step on it like I am mashing blueberries.

In the background, there is an airplane flying overhead, all sorts of birds are chirping, and my least favorite rooster is crowing over and over. The airplane sounds like from the war movies where the U.S. Air Force comes in flying over. The airplane is not dropping bombs, but pesticide for the vast banana fields. The birds are still chirping and I throw some rocks at the rooster to stop crowing, while stepping on my laundry.

Time goes by so fast because now the harsh sun is peeking through. I put the clothes in the spinner side and that side is not broken. Gracias a Dios. I then place my clothes on the lines quickly, because I see clouds on the other side of the sky and there could be a possibility of unpredictable rain. I am at the mercy of the sun when it comes to laundry.

I turn off the gas to “naturally release” the pressure cooker. I didn’t explode the house. Score.

I go to adelantar for my applicable English class for the tour guides of Don Diego. I write a draft of my plans based on what we learned from the previous class. Then, in my legal pad, I write a final draft of the plans. I will not only write today’s lesson plan, but also for next class. High five to me.  I prepare my school supplies and pack water.

It’s already 1 pm. I must eat lunch because tengo filo.  I open the pressure cooker with amusement and wow, the beans turned out pretty good, but next time…maybe less water.

I throw condiments and serve myself.

I eat lunch while writing my to-do list for tomorrow. I do the dishes again. I bring in my dry clothes and throw it on my bed. II shower quickly.

It’s 2 pm. I double check my backpack and supplies.

I leave my village at 3 pm and take the buseta to Don Diego. Wind in my face, this is my free air conditioning.

I swing by Señora Rosa’s aka La Negra’s house to pick up the school keys. I power walk to the classroom, open the door and prepare the white board and classroom set-up until class starts at 4 pm.

The tour guides slowly stroll in at 4 pm and at 4:15 p.m., I close the door.

We learn for a solid two hours of English. They teach me costeñol throughout class. Today I learned burro muñeca which means something really chevere or cool and puya el burro which means hurry up or get out.

The more you know…

Angell in her community class

It is 6 p.m. I power walk up to the Troncal highway because it’s getting dark and the busetas stop around 6 pm. I get home and eat the rest of the lunch and lay in my hammock to relax and take a deep breath.

I sleep like a baby with all my primavera smelling laundry around me to do it again at 5 am the following day.

This is a day in my life in Colombia.

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