Bugs, creams and medicines

By Brae:

So far I bet you think Colombia is amazing because it is. But there are a few annoying things.

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First, we have to have 3 sun creams every day (1 at the beginning of the day, 1 in the middle of the day and 1 at the end of the day). We don’t only have to have 3 sun creams. We also have to have 2 mosquito sprays (1 at the beginning of the day and 1 at the end of the day).

Another quite annoying thing was when we went to Palomino on the Caribbean coast, in the night we had to sleep under mosquito nets to make sure we didn’t fall ill. They kept us really hot, which was annoying, but kept us safe from malaria.

mosquito netsMalaria is a very serious disease. To keep us safe from malaria we have to have some malaria pills every day after dinner. When we very first started it was quite annoying but we have got used to it now. Mosquitos also carry other diseases that have quite funny names like chikungunya and Zika. You might have heard about Zika as it is in the news.

waterThe last frustrating thing that I can think of is that we can’t drink water from the tap because it is not clean enough to drink. So we have to carry heavy bottles home every day. We can’t even use tap water for brushing our teeth.

Colombia is still an amazing place because you find annoying things wherever you go. The sea is warm in Colombia all year round, whereas in England the sea is pretty cold even in summer. Also, it never gets dark here really early like in the winter in England. Things are just different around the world!

Weird stuff: shark oil

By Oren:

When we went to Palomino we had an incredibly friendly driver called Javier (pronounced ‘Havier’) and as we were going along I spotted what looked like some old fashioned milk bottles hanging in a small, wooden stall under a roof of cloth, standing by a MASSIVE banana plantation. I asked him what was in the bottles thinking it might be something to do with bananas but he said that it was shark oil!

Shark oil is an oil made from shark liver, and people sell it in their little stalls by the side of the dusty road. Colombian people believe it cures asthma and flu. I thought nobody would get flu (because it is a type of cold and it’s really hot here) but they do.

Lots of Colombian medicines are made out of plants and animals, and many of them were discovered by the tribes of Indians living in the mountains. People from all over Colombia use these medicines instead of, or as well as, buying them from pharmacies.

On the way back from Palomino we tried to buy a jar to take picture of it, but all the stalls hadn’t got any left. But as I mentioned Javier is really nice so he sent us a photo of a jar he bought, for our blog. Here is the picture he took of the oil:

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Transport

By Brae:

BusIn Colombia the transport is different. For example, the buses drive with their doors open, there are no bus stops and you just tell the driver when you want to get off and on. The buses are blue.

The taxis are yellow, so Rachel [Hare], Mae and Lily will understand that the ‘spot the yellow car’ game that my family plays in Norfolk is a very different game in Colombia, because almost half the cars are taxis! Also the taxis don’t have seat belts.

TaxiThere are not only normal taxis in Colombia, but also some of the motorbike riders offer to give people a lift so there are also motorbike taxis here. I can’t decide whether to go on one or not because it doesn’t look very safe to have something like three people on a motorbike.

Sometimes, a horse or a donkey with a cart comes along the road. We’ve figured out why they have those covers by their eyes. It’s so they can’t see the cars, taxis and buses all whizzing by. If they did, they would become scared and then it would be chaos.

There is a lot of beeping everywhere as the cars beep their horns a lot.

The roads are normal mostly, but in some places the road is completely made out of dust, like the road our school is on. Here is a picture of it.

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The story of a coconut

By Oren:

If you’ve ever eaten a coconut you might think it grows like that. But really, in the palm tree, a coconut grows inside a big, green case and it falls to the ground when it is ready.

We collected lots of newly fallen coconuts and we tried to open one. My dad had to use all his strength (and some sticks) to crack the shell open. We found out that underneath the green skin there is a thick hairy layer to protect the coconut. Here are some pictures:

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Colombian animals

By Oren:

In Colombia there is a huge range of animal species ranging from exotic birds to monkeys. Colombia holds the biggest range of butterflies and the second most of birds in the whole world! The national park ‘Parque Tayrona’, near where we live, is home to hundreds of species of animals. Today my family and I went on a trek up a mountain and then floated down the river on a tyre. As we peered into the jungle canopy I was amazed to see a huge king fisher sitting on a branch acting still, staring down at us. It was the first one my mum and dad had seen in forty-one years, and I spotted it!

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In Colombia everyone wakes up really early. In Palomino (where we stayed this week) at about six in the morning you can see little red squirrels scurrying in the trees. They are adorable! edit-2You can also see lots of interesting birds and hear their calls. There is a bird that looks like a black bird with a really long tail, which has an amazing amount of calls – it is squawking at me right now.

My dream is to see a monkey in the wild and I might be able to see one in ‘parque Tayrona’. We also saw a Portuguese man-of-war (it looks like a jellyfish but it’s actually something called a siphonophore!). For humans their sting is excruciatingly painful but rarely deadly, even dead ones can sting you. On the way back from Palomino we saw two massive green iguanas basking in the sun but they ran away before we could take a photo.

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This is a good time to tell you that I’ve always felt passionate about animals, so having this opportunity to see so many new ones is unbelievably awesome!

Colombian food

By Brae:

In Colombia you can find lots of different foods that you can find nowhere in England. For example ‘arepas’ are a sort of pancake that you can put lots of stuff on like meat or cheese. My favouite one so far is ‘arepa de huevo’ (with egg inside). I had it for breakfast one day. I don’t know how they get the egg inside. Here are two pictures of it.

 

Another Colombian food that I really like is ‘patacones’ which is like a pancake made from a kind of big banana that they grow here. In Colombia they use these bananas like potatoes – they cook them in lots of different ways in the main course of your dinner, not your pudding. They roast it, they fry it like chips and they mash it into ‘patacones’. We have seen lots of farms growing bananas but we don’t think they grow potatoes here.

Colombian food is very tasty and I am enjoying trying new things.

Newsflash! Tropical fruit update

By Oren:

Last night I tried the ‘tomate de arbol’ (tamarillo) I mentioned in my blog entry yesterday, and it was disgusting! Luckily I had some plum to get rid of the taste.

So, this brings me to my first ‘Thing I have discovered in Colombia’ (I am sure there will be lots more facts to come in other posts). Fact 1: not all tropical fruits are tasty (although most are).

The first Tropical fruit post can be found here

IT’S HOT HOT HOT!

By Brae:

It’s much much hotter in Colombia than in England. It’s so hot that people don’t even have hot water in their houses in Santa Marta (the city where we live). So that means cold showers every day! It sounds really bad but we’ve kind of got used to it now. There is cold water for washing up too and cold water in the washing machine. It’s not a big problem to clean clothes as there is absolutely no mud here. There is just dust.

thumb_IMG_0070_1024Because of the hot temperature the sea is really warm. It’s so hot in the daytime that most people go to the beach in the evening, just when the
sun is going down. Here is a picture of the sunset. We also have a swimming pool that the people who live in our building can use but it’s on the shady side of the building so the water is really cold. That can be quite useful if you need to cool down.

One more thing about the heat is that there are lots of cacti around. Opposite our school the hill is covered with them. This next photo is for Mrs Ward and Sapphire class because my mum told me that they are doing their topic on the Sonoran desert. I remember doing this and learning about cacti.

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Tropical fruit

By Oren:

We’ve only been in Colombia for 3 days but we’ve done so much already it’s hard to decide what to tell you about first. If you know anything about me, you’ll know that I love food, so maybe that is a good thing to write about for my first blog entry!

I have eaten many different fruits and vegetables in my life, but this morning for my breakfast (well, my pre-breakfast snack!) tomate de arbolI had the most delicious pineapple I have ever eaten in my whole life. Even though I’m only 10, my mum and dad think it’s the best pineapple they have
ever eaten in 41 years. It’s called a ‘piña dorada’ (golden pineapple) and I would put a picture of it for you but I already ate it! So instead I will put a picture of some of the other strange fruits that we have bought in Colombia. Here is a picture of me and Brae with a ‘tomate de arbol’ (this literally means tree tomato but we call them tamarillos in English) and a ‘naranja pomelo’ (it’s a kind of funny pointy grapefruit). We haven’t eaten these yet so maybe next time I write the blog I can tell you what they are like. Come back to my blog soon and find out!