Today I had my first visit to a Colombian hospital.

I have been sick for about a week now. It has been thoroughly unpleasant. I will save you all the gory details but let you know that I drank a lot of water to stay hydrated and spent a lot of time in the bathroom.

I probably should have went to the doctor a few days ago but I put it off because I was very busy and didn’t want to explain all my problems in spanish.

So I spent ages wondering which hospital to go to. In the end I just picked one nearby and hopped down to their emergency department.

Apparently I was at the wrong hospital. I don’t know what odontology is, but apparently it’s not what I needed. The receptionist took my insurance details and ID. Then a doctor took me into one of those curtained rooms. A nurse took my BP and heart rate while a friend of his popped in to say hello.

He took my temperature… Not with a thermometer in the mouth or up the bum- but in my armpit. How weird. Thank god it wasn’t the bum though. (Although that might have made a better blog post)

Anyway after explaining my symptoms to a doctor, he gave me some paper and sent me to a pharmacy.

I was literally in and out with a prescription in hand in about 8 minutes. 8 minutes and I wasn’t even in the right hospital. He didn’t even need to check the ‘sample‘ I brought along with me.

I couldn’t believe it. At home I would wait 8 days for an appointment. (Well thats a bit unfair. Normally mum phones and gets me an appointment on the day itself. Thats why you should always be nice to the receptionist!) One time when I had a malaria scare (that’s a story for another time) I was waiting in A&E for over 4 hours. I’m pretty sure that if I actually had malaria, I probably would have died.



To get into the Carnaval spirit, I bought myself a wonderful t-shirt and marimonda mask.

The Marimonda character is one of the most popular and most important in the carnaval’s tradition. Stories about its meaning and symbolism are different; some say it represents male genitalia (monda is a crude Spanish word for penis), but others say it represents the people of Barranquilla (Barranquilleros) letting their hair down, dressing a bit silly and getting in the fun of carnaval season. Certainly, the backwards trousers and strange ties worn with the mask seem to support this.

All over the city people have marimondas on their cars, on t-shits, on hats. They are hanging from street lights, and adorning shopping centres along with other popular folkloric characters and costumes such as la negrita and el hombre caiman.


Update on Everyday Life in Barranquilla

I blog a lot about travelling and interesting stuff I do- but I often forget about how I’m getting on in day to day life. This is just a wee update on what I do regularly, how I have fun and how I feel about Barranquilla.


I made it no secret in my first few months that I wasn’t enjoying myself. I struggled with the hot and humid weather, I found it hard to make new friends and the change from independent student living to being with a family and sharing a room, had me feeling depressed. In my first 3 or 4 months I cried a lot, I spent a lot of time talking to people back home and a lot of time complaining about how much this experience had been terrible.

In my fourth month things started to get better. I joined a dance class, and going to it 2 or 3 times a week got me active and prevented boring weekdays. I decided to ditch the attempt at making Colombian friends, and started hanging out a lot more with Beci and Sarah (The other two British Council assistants) and through them I met mor gringos and my social life started to fill up. Over time I found myself enjoying Barranquilla more and more.

Now I really like the life I’ve made in Colombia. Things aren’t perfect, but whenever are they? I still do my dance class regularly. We have a movie night once a week. I’m going out nearly every weekend, and Carnaval fever is setting in.

In the long haul, I’m super glad I stuck through the rubbish first few months. I’ve really started to love Colombia, and I’m starting to think about ways to come back and live here for even longer. My advice to anyone feeling shitty about an abroad placement is stick with it. By forcing yourself to be social, asking your friends for help and keeping a positive attitude you really will come to like your experience: as Dolly Parton says, “If you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.”


Carnaval is coming!

Last night Carnaval was officially opened, as the mayoress of Barranquilla handed over the key of the city to La Reina De Carnaval (Queen of Carnaval). There was a big ceremony in the Romelil Martinez football stadium, and wonderful fireworks that could be seen across the city. The night before I went to a parade … Continue reading