Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Sorry to double dip...I figured I speed up the update process so we can get to the good stuff (Colombian Caribbean coast). I'm in Barranquilla right now. Let's see if I can give you all of Colombia before I actually leave on the 26th. I can't believe I've been here a month!

So Armenia is very very very miserably poor. I was shocked. Ppl walking around with no shoes, living like animals. Or worse than many animals I know. It was really hurtful and pissed me off. On the way to Armenia all you see is coffee and banana plantations. GORGEOUS and prosperous-looking. Why is the region that is providing the world with some of the best coffee so poor? Don't get it.

We stayed at this worker's retreat place that was cool...had a proletariat feel and lots of colorful details. Didn't feel like a hotel at all, which was kind of refreshing.

The concert was at this ENORMOUS conference center which was built in the middle of NOTHING. So weird. Huge building with a bunch of sinks, classrooms, work spaces, closets, all empty. One of the strangest things I've seen thus far on my trip. And by strange I mean suspect. Looked more like storage space to me. But anyways.

During the concert I thought about one of the books I read last semester for class (Highbrow/Lowbrow, Lawrence Levine). The book talks about manners and the ways in which audiences are trained to behave during performances. I have always been an advocate for letting people be themselves. But in Armenia, for a moment I felt that I missed the well-mannered ways of the gringos. This lady was ON THE PHONE in the middle of the performance. And it was a pretty small room so I'm sure the musicians could hear her. So extra! Emma shut her up though, thank goodness. But then the lady started crying. I was really confused about that part.

Armenia was short and uneventful. Manizales was next.

The rides to places always feel longer because drivers lie about the distances. Not sure why but I think it's hilarious. I quickly learned that 1 hour means 2, etc. The road to Manizales wasn't that long though, plus it was really scenic. Our hotel was at the top of a mountain, in the middle of nowhere. It was cold, rainy, cozy and GORGEOUS. It felt like being in a resort somewhere in Switzerland. These subclimates are so random! The hotel was made up of several cabins, 4 ppl each, and ours had a nice spring pool of its own :) I hadn't bathed in spring water in years! Loved it.

The concert in Manizales was ok....the audiences change a lot from city to city. This audience was cold, no dancing and not much energy. Oh well. One of our clarinetists, Guillermo Marin, wrote a beautiful song for his sister Rita who passed away. It's a traditional Colombian llano song. The orchestra played it and I teared up-so beautiful.

I had a chance to walk around downtown busy! I've noticed that about some Colombian cities and towns...the streets are PACKED. Didn't take pictures though, it feels awkward taking pics in the middle of the street...very turista gringa.

The day off in Manizales is my first day off in 3 necessary. I slept pretty much all day. My body is aching from exhaustion, but I feel a lot better after getting some rest.

I miss and love you guys. Next stop: Medellin.

PS. Some of these pictures are stolen from Emma, since I didn't really take many pics.

Friday, July 16, 2010


Now with almost a week of touring underway I can honestly say it feels like a whirlwind. Being in one city one day and the next day another makes it confusing. I don't even know what day of the week it is anymore!

Lo que si, I must say each city so far in Colombia has its own identity. Let's start with Ibagué was a relief to arrive because it felt like a city, small pero ciudad nonetheless. It has beautiful mountains as a backdrop, very green and tropical looking. The climate was different from Villavicencio, which was hot and humid. Ibague was warm during the day but chilly at night. A nice surprise. Looked like a college town because on EVERY BLOCK there was a photocopy store/kiosk....WHY?!

Llegamos de noche. It was a STRUGGLE to get into the hotel with the bus because the driveway was too narrow for the buses, as illustrated by the picture. Estabamos cansados (ademas habiamos visto la copa mundial ese dia) asi que comimos y oimos anecdotas comiquisimas y vivisimas contadas por el Maestro Carlos Miguel Prieto. Al dia siguiente Emma, Ana y yo fuimos a caminar por el barrio cerca del hotel. En la tarde fuimos a hacer el sound check y ensayo en el anfiteatro (aqui le dicen casco acústico) que quedaba en el medio de un bosque en el medio de la ciudad. Era como una mezcla de Cerro Santa Lucia y Wolf Trap. Bien lindo. En lo que preparaban el escenario fuimos con Emma a dar una vuelta y paramos en una feria artesanal. De ahi fuimos a caminar, no sacar muchas fotos pa no parecer turistas, y fuimos a la plaza principal. Habia una exhibicion que era mas que nada una propaganda del gobierno-fotos de militares derrotando a la guerrilla. Bastante ridiculo.

Disfrutamos muchisimo de la ciudad....we went back to the concert, which was fantastic. In retrospect, it is the warmest audience we have encountered thus far. La gente no reclamo (porque el concierto es en verdad DEMASIADO largo). Cuando tocaron el himno la gente se volvio loca y bailo. La verdad es que fue bien emocionante.

Ibague fue una feliz reunion con la vida urbana. Al dia siguiente del concierto nos fuimos a Armenia.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


WOW. Finally an update. The reason for the delay is not the busy schedule or lack of internet. Rather,my computer is being STUPID and not allowing me to log in to pretty much anything related to gmail. ANNOYING. So I'm using Emma's computer, and today is the first day off in weeks....time to catch up.

I'm in
Manizales now but let me rewind alllll the way back to Villavicencio. I left off when musicians had arrived and the Residence and things were just getting started. Pretty soon things got hectic...running around doing different odd jobs, going to rehearsals in between and making sure everyone was there, etc. etc. Fun and definitely a different pace than I was used to as a full time grad student, or even at the KC. Not just the being busy part...also the actual task at hand part. The hardest one was the passports. Emma and I had to collect and photocopy passports, photos and visa forms for every have no idea how hard it was to coordinate that. We were running around Villa Valeria collecting, chasing, scolding, photocopying, ticking off names from lists for DAYS. Looking back it was funny, but we were STRESSED.
FJC (filarmonica joven de colombia) and YOA musicians still seem to stick to their own groups...but hopefully as time goes on that will change. As for me, I'm slowly getting to know the musicians. And now I at least know their names, their birth dates and nationalities by heart!
I went into town (Villavicencio) to buy some random stuff I needed. It was really interested...small town, not much brillo, but it was PACKED. I've never seen anything like it. For those of you who have been to Santo Domingo, picture avenida Duarte or Mella at 7 pm on a Friday. That's how packed it was. It looked like everyone was on vacation or something! It was reeeealllly hot an humid, colorful, lots of salsa and cumbia, a little vallenato, all playing simultaneously on the streets. The people are pretty good looking...girls are SUUUPER tacky and wear the tightest and most adorned clothes they can find. Caribe-style. The chicks who work at the hotel can barely walk around...I'm guessing it's a combination of the heels and the fact that their pants might split. True life. Maybe if they dressed more comfortably they'd get more work done. Speaking of which, it's time you hear about Natalie, one of my almost-torments at Villa Valeria.
Natalie is the petite, chipper-looking events coordinator at Villa Valeria. But she is one of the most incompetent and EVIL people I know. She made our lives so difficult! Everything was no before yes. It took 3 days for her to get someone to come and fix the hot water...people were freezing in the shower, including faculty members. She had such an attitude about every request we made and closed the door in my face one time. The reason she is such a pain in the ass is because 1. she's dumb, and 2. she's too busy working hard for Don Omar and Mark Anthony.
The Boricua mega-stars came to Villa Valeria, IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, to perform at the....get this....ANNUAL JOROPO FESTIVAL. Really?! I think it's great, and the people of this town deserve visits and entertainment of this sort. But these A list (in the Latin world) artists must be receiving a FAT check if they are coming all the way here to perform at a Joropo festival...I doubt they are doing this out of the kindness of their hearts. There is clearly money in this town, not visibly though. "Interesting". Meanwhile, Natalie got slighted because Mark Anthony (who turns out was in the room right above me), never made an appearance. He stayed in his room. Same with Don Omar, whose entourage of at least 30 hovered over him if he wanted to walk around. They came and went. But I hear the performance was great.
A whole lot of partying around here. I guess the musicians are taking advantage of the "rest period" before they go on tour. I've had a couple of drinks here and there but no serious partying. I feel old because I'm so exhausted! Charging my batteries before we go on tour.

Concert was fantastic and exciting. FJC goes first and they didnt get much love, but the audience warmed up...especially with both orchestras joined to perform one of Colombia's anthems...beautiful. Technical difficulties posting coming soon. The gorgeous young woman with me is Ana, our photographer. The other one is of me, Emma Development and Marketing Officer and Nina, Executive Director.

Next you'll hear about Ibague. Love you all. Please bear with me through the technical difficulties. XOXOXO

Monday, July 5, 2010

Residency at Villavicencio

The ride to Villavicencio was REALLY long...minor fender-bender at the beginning of the trip kind of set the precedent...LOL.  Roads were being fixed so lots of traffic, stop and go, etc.  In the end, a 3 hrs ride took 6...but it was SO WORTH IT.  Beautiful, for one.  And the destination, pa que decir....GORGEOUS.  We arrived at night, tired but I was excited nonetheless.  Dinner was quaint and nice, just staff members who had arrived.  I had a really nice room to myself and that night I slept better than I had in years.
Next day I woke up to a gorgeous view of El Llano (the plains, a geographic and cultural region in Colombia/Venezuela).  Never-ending vegetation..., incredible resort in the middle of nowhere.  Authentic beauty.  They switched me from room to room 3 times, but I'm in an amazing place so I ain't complaining!

The first couple of days was prep time.  Making sure the transportation for musicians, faculty and staff was set, that things were clear with the hotel, etc. etc.  And then they arrived!  So many of them!  And they are all so freaking FULL OF ENERGY, it's unbelievable.  They wear me out and make me smile at the same time LOL.
Things have been very hectic.  One moment I'm doing one thing, something totally different the next.  But I love it.  I love being busy, moving around, talking to people and pushing myself to do new and different things.  My schedule is pretty rigorous compared to my VA grad school day to day...I wake up around 630, go to the gym, most of the time ;)  Breakfast at 8, then rehearsal starts at 9.  I help make sure things are in order and that musicians are in their places for every rehearsal (2 per day).  Most of my internship duties have to do with logistical stuff though.  More details coming soon.

Hope y'all miss me because I sure as hell miss you guys!  I had some saudades for 4th of July, but we had a mini celebration here :)  I know I'm super busy and haven't been able to call much, but just know I'm thinking of you ALL THE TIME!!!!
Enjoy the pics!  Some of them courtesy of Emma--shout out to a great colleague and friend!
XOXOXOXOXO to everyone!