Making Soap and Touring Montería

Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Monteria, Colombia
Every day is an experience in Colombia! I imagine that if the Colombians came to the United States, they could say the same. Life can be so different in another country.

This morning we got up and walked along the river . There were a lot of people out walking, running, training, and biking to work. Except for the one trainer that had music playing at his station, it was a quiet and peaceful walk.

After our walk, we returned to the hotel for breakfast. I had to explain to the kitchen that Scott could not have any of the breakfast foods. Of course, they look at me like I am crazy, but I explain and re-explain what I needed to try to get close to what I desired. Since Scott is not eating any breakfast food items, they are completely confused and almost tilting—a chicken breast and grilled vegetables (no potatoes) is what I order.

I can have the buffet breakfast which is offered today; well, some of it—the fruit, the coffee, the granola, yogurt. The eggs have ham in them, so I ask for a special portion from the kitchen without ham. The waitress says the eggs do not have ham in them, so I double check. I confirm to her that, "Yes, they do have ham in them ."  She looks surprised, and says she will make me some without.

Scott's breakfast arrives, and it is a very small portion of vegetables and they are cooked with a teriyaki sauce. I forgot to emphasize plain vegetables with no frills. It is a good thing that we have brought food from home to make up for these times. It is not that Scott doesn’t want to eat what is served, it is because he can’t because of his allergies and his sugar intolerance.

The coffee was quite bitter at the hotel, so we decide to go across the street to McDonald’s for a latté on our way to Olga’s. The lattés were the bargain of the day. For two lattés, we were charged $2.54. In the United States, it would have been more than that for one latté. We walked to Olga’s and Scott dropped me off and he proceeded back to the hotel to take care of essential e-mails and other church related business.

I stayed at Olga’s as planned to teach Olga how to make all natural soap—from oils and lye . She had everything ready that we needed to make the soap when I arrived. I showed her the best way to be accurate when measuring the ingredients. I also explained a lot of details about what to make sure she did, what to make sure she did not do, and many tips and hints to make it easier or better. I tried to explain what could go wrong, and things that might happen that are unusual. I wanted her to be prepared for as many things as possible. Our process of making the soap went smoothly. Olga was very happy to learn how to do this so that she can sell the soap in different shops and spas in the area. She is so bubbly and outgoing that I am sure she will do well in this.

Olga invited us to stay for lunch. I called Scott on the phone let him know. He could hear me fine, but I could not hear him. It sounded like I was underwater and he was talking to me. I could make out about one word out of every 10. I tried another phone. The same thing occurred. We needed to arrange another appointment so it was necessary that I speak with him . He suggested I try Skype. I asked Alejandro if he had Skype on his computer. He did and turned it on. It took some time to connect, but eventually I was able to talk to Scott via Skype, which was very clear.

Finally Scott arrived at 12:30 PM and we ate. We had fried fish, coconut rice, and chopped vegetable salad. The fish was a whole fish fried in oil which was very good. We had ciruela for dessert. This is a variety of plum. I figured this out because of the texture of the peeling. You can eat them ripe--red, or as unripe--green.  

After lunch, Olga drove us to another member’s home who was sick and needed to be anointed. He showed us the new lectern he had brought with him from Bogotá last week to Monteria. This lectern was made by another member in Bogotá. We only stayed a few minutes, and then returned to our hotel.

By the time we returned, I was on a brain overload . I had been mentally stimulated with five constant hours of intense Spanish language and my mind was on overload. I crashed on the bed and didn’t move for a half hour. I was completely drained.

Then I spent the next hour going through some e-mail and blogging. At 4:30 PM, Olga returned to take us on a tour of Monteria. We drove through some newer areas of the city, then into the country where there are ranches that raise cows. Apparently the President of Colombia owns a huge ranch in this area. Then Olga took us to a hotel (Villa Campestre Rio Sinú) where a former classmate (Griselda) of hers works. It is right on the River Sinú. It was very tranquil and there was a nice breeze along the river.

We saw a man in an old wooden canoe fishing—not with a pole, but just with a fishing line and a hook. Across the river, we saw the Areneros.  These men use a very long, flat boat—about 50 feet—and dig up sand from the river bottom and then sell it for construction purposes . The hotel has a pontoon boat that can provide groups with evening cruises on the river which looked to be quite pleasant and relaxing. The sunset over the river was beautiful.

Griselda showed us the other amenities of the hotel. We are always on the lookout for future or other locations for the Feast or summer camp. She showed us the newly constructed salon (hall), a pleasant outdoor eating or dancing area, play areas and areas to sit and chat, and the hotel rooms. We also sat on the terrace and had a limodada (fresh squeezed lemonade) which was really refreshing after the hot, humid day.

It was now after sunset. We drove to pick up Jaime, Lyda and the three kids. Then we picked up Robinson and drove to the restaurant on the edge of town—La Bonga del Sinú—same name but a different location from the one we had eaten at last night. The restaurant was not busy, only four groups, but it took forever to receive our food. Not only were we as Americans not liking the wait, but the normally laid back Colombians were also annoyed that it took one hour and 20 minutes for our food to arrive.

After we finished eating, we returned back to the hotel. It had been a long day, and we were ready to relax. We took a few minutes to check e-mail and then went to bed. I was still keyed up from the very busy day and I could not sleep. I read for a while and that helped me to relax. I was able to sleep then.
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Ailsa Braun

Thank you for sharing your experiences on your travel blog! Love all the pictures! Have a good Passover, NTBO, and Days of Unleavened Bread.


Thanks for sharing your travel experiences. I'm sure the brethren enjoy having you there for the Passover and holy days.
BTW, I'm waiting for a picture of you and Scott zipping along on a motor bike!

Victor Kubik

Thanks for sharing your journey with all of us. Our prayers for your safety are with you!