Patacones

I have spent months searching for green plantains in supermarkets and green grocers across Northern Ireland for a few months and last weekend I finally found some. None of my friends had heard of plantains before; the Spaniards I asked were clueless as to them plátano is just a regular banana (something in Colombia that’s known as guineo) and in the first Caribbean store I found the lady sadly informed me that “they’re impossible to find… too expensive to import”.

So I gave up for a few weeks, but spurred on by a small spurt of sunlight I walked along Belfast’s Ormeau Road and passed the Chinese supermarket; the Irish language organization; the halal butcher; the Cantonese restaurant; the Roma community centre; the traveller support network and mass of student homes and finally found myself in front of an international store that stocked delicacies and staples from the nations of all the immigrants who have come to live in Belfast.

In among the hundreds of products that were completely alien to me I discovered a small box of large, green plantains- just what I had wanted all this time!

During my time in Colombia I had plantain nearly every day. On my way to work in the mornings I frequently grabbed a small bag of plantain-chips outside the Romelio Martinez stadium; I was served fried plantain with nearly every meal and on weekends I loved nothing more than to grab a big lunch at SAO or one of the many restaurants in Barranquilla with patacones on the side.

They are delicious with a big lunch of fish, rice, vegetables, beans and an ajiaco soup- but equally scrumptious by themselves with a pinch of salt and dash of hot sauce. This week I got the plantain, chopped it up and made my own- if it weren’t for the rain and freezing weather outside I would have almost thought I’d returned to Colombia. They were YUMMY!

pataconesRecipe

Remove the skin (best to do this with a knife).

Cut into thick stubs, about 1 or 2 inches long.

Deep fry in oil for 3-5 minutes until a light yellow colour.

Remove. Dry on paper towels.

Crush with a pan or large flat object- until they are flat, but still in one piece.

Season with some salt (lemon also if you like).

Fry again until they start to go a bit brown.

Remove from oil, dry in paper- add some sauce and ENJOY!

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Celebrations!!!

Today I made some delicious jugo de Maracuya (That’s passion fruit juice for those who don’t know the lingo) and added a little vodka something special because I’m celebrating. This was my favourite drink when I was in Clombia so I felt it was an appropriate choice as tonight I am celebrating the end of my degree. I am over the moon because I managed to achieve a 2.1 in politics and a fantastic first in Spanish which I just could not have done without the help and support of all my friends in Colombia!

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Gracias a todas las personas en Colombia que me ayudaron durante mi estancia en este país maravilloso. Gracias a ustedes por ayudarme especialmente a mejorar mi nivel de español y enseñarme unas palabras bien chéveres y Full bacanas!

Btw… To make the juice: empty some passion fruits, ice, water and sugar (to taste) in a blender and mix it all up!

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Chao! Byebye!

Esperando en el aeropuerto El Dorado de Bogotá para mi vuelo hasta Madrid, y después hasta Dublín. Chao Colombia y gracias por todo! Just waiting for my flight to Madrid (and then onto Dublin) in the El Dorado airport, Bogotá. Byebye Colombia and thanks for everything!

Hospital

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.