Toes in the sand.

Sorry in advance for subpar writing, lack of captions and repeated pictures. Public computers are the bane of my existence.

Just in case I wanted to forget for a few more hours that my vacation were over, it’s pouring rain in Tabio and I’m snuggled in my fleece and slippers. My chest hurts from running at 8,000 feet for the first time in a week and I’m avoiding eye contact with my monthly planner.

I survived my first grading period of teaching! I have a general idea of what I’m doing, I know all but maybe 10 of my 120 students’ names and I’m pretty sure I didn’t screw up too badly. With that being said, Semana Santa was truly a beacon of relief at the end of 10 stressful, work-filled weeks.

Vacation was an enormously successful balance of socializing, sightseeing and relaxing on the northeast Colombian coast, in Cartagena and Santa Marta. We stayed in an amazing apartment in Cartagena with Colombian friends who showed us around the town. The tourist-y parts of the city are fairly concentrated near the water and in the historical walled Centro. Cartagena is an UNESCO  World Heritage site and hugely popular with domestic and international tourists. It was also crawling with a variety of police forces because the sixth Summit of the Americas will be held there this week. Police in buses, on motorcycles, setting up random roadblocks, huddling on corners, walking gorgeous police dogs, police with riot gear, police in trucks – there were possible more officers than people in some areas.

Santa Marta is about four hours away by bus, and popular with backpackers for its proximity to a national park called Tayrona with beautiful hikes and beaches. It’s the oldest city in Colombia although it hasn’t been preserved like Cartagena so it’s a bit grungier and reminded me of Santiago Atitlán in a lot of ways, and definitely the coastal towns I visited in Ecuador.

I can’t say better things about my main travel crew – a perfect balance of easygoing, competent and hilarious. Good vacation buddies aren’t always easy to come by and make a huge difference. With minimal sunburns, maximum ice cream and great food consumption, photo shoots galore, plenty of contributions to the local economy and nearly flawless restaurant bill-paying, we couldn’t ask for a better coastal vacation.

We also got to meet up with a lot of WorldTeach-ers living around Colombia that we haven’t seen since orientation. While we’re all here teaching English, the placements, work assignments and experiences are vastly different and always interesting to hear about.

The Easter Bunny brought me Grading Period 2 planning and organizing to tackle, so I’ll leave you with the week in pictures.