After enjoying our evening English sessions so much, I was invited to move into the house to share in a season with one of the most carinoso, loving and fun families I’ve ever encountered in my travels. Now, I’m quite conscious that here in the magical little Colombian community of Taganga, I’m making memories that my eyes will one day tear up over, but I’m too busy loving it all up to miss it quite yet.
Please, meet my family…
This is Mayra, my 12-year old adopted sister. She teaches me how to properly mash patacones (fried plaintain) and I help her translate Bob Marley songs. When we’re not swimming or singing, she’s usually making “yuck” faces at all my raw vegetables and doing everything within the power of her persuasions to get me to eat meat.
This is my host mother Diana. She’s taught me the secrets (canela and panela!) of making a proper Colombian tinto (coffee). Despite the fact that she’s lived in Taganga for three years, she’d never been to the only discoteque in town. So, on her insistence, Annie and I took her out last weekend, where she held her own on the dance floor (without a sip of alcohol) ‘till 3:30 in the morning!
Meet Annie, our in house resident expert in song and salsa! We spend evenings turning the kitchen into a dance floor as she instructs me in the subtle shoulder, hip and rump rotations that distinguish cumbiafrom mapale and purro. She shakes it like only a Latina pura can.
And this is Freddy! From the minute I wake up (at the crack of dawn) to the first minute he spots me climbing over the hill towards the house, at the top of his lungs he screams his enthusiastic greeting; “CHRISTINA AGUILERA!” He wants nothing to do with conjugating verbs and is constantly throwing his fist onto the table to ask, “Yes. But HOW do I say in English, “If your new Colombian girlfriend spends the night while you’re staying in our hotel, then you have to pay the price of two people.” We take trips on the moto to go pick up Mayra at her grandmother’s house in true Colombian style: one moto, three people, two backpacks, two ice-cream cones, and a weeks work of groceries and a five gallon jug of water dangling off all limbs not driving.
I’m not the only long-term hotel guest who’s fallen in love with this house. This is Martin, who Diana refers to as “whoo hoo!” which is the whoop noise he makes when he gets excited, which he did a lot of when making Switzerland’s national dish, Roshti, for everyone last night.
And this is David from Israel, who’s been happily “stuck” in Tanganga while suffering from some “mystery disease” that the doctors here think might be dengue fever and which he INSISTS that he cured by consuming obscene amounts of garlic. But I have to admit, the 40 cloves of garlic that I chopped and added to his special Shakshuka recipe, did make for a salivating experience.
This is the fruit juice bar of Anna and Kelli, where you can find me every morning and at every sunset, sipping on concoctions of guanabana, papaya, mango, maracuya, and lulo. There isn’t an easier place in the world to do a juice fast and as a result, we wink at each other over my special discounted rates.
This is Swiss Diana, who has an English book exchange in town that I visit on almost a daily basis. I’ve already read four books off her shelf and am now busy translating and creating promotional flyers for her in exchange for organic papayas from her garden. Yum.
This is Black #2. I used to take him for walks on the beach, but when he gets tired he refuses to move and I’ve grown tired of carrying him home. And he only responds to commands in Spanish “puppy-talk” (which is what Diana uses) and I just can’t bring myself to make my voice so high or strange.
This is Dana, the REAL big baby of the house. She sneaks up on me in the grass or when I’m in the hammock, and with no warning, I suddenly have 100 pounds of Dana on top of me. My only protection is…
Mama Tacha, who’s always ready to take a quick snap at a sol-stalking Dana. Mama Tacha and I have a special affinity towards each other. I think it’s because she too was a wanderer who followed her nose up to this house where she was treated with such love that she refused to leave. Tacha follows me everywhere. Be it on the beach or at the bar, she stands patiently by my side, always within distance of a reassuring pat or longer loving pet.
Well, it’s Christmas Eve, and “CHRISTINA AQUILERA! VENGA POR UN TINTO!” is being shouted up to me from downstairs. Time for me to join and delight in the laughter and smells wafting up to my room. Sending wishes out to all, that in your holiday also, may the only thing hotter than the tinto be the warmth of the loved ones you share it with.
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