28 June 2012


In light of the recent events at the French Open, I know i should probably be writing about Rafa Nadal's incredible 7th Roland Garros title. I probably should be writing about the fact that he now holds  a 52-1 record in Paris and has surpassed Bjorn Borg as the player with most French Open Titles in the history of the sport. I could also probably write about Novak Djokovick chance to become only the third player to complete a career grand slam (winning all our majors in a row) or his 2011 25-1 grand Slam record. Pretty impressive statistics, pretty incredible final. 

Instead, I'd like to write about the greatest player in the history of Tennis. I'm talking off course about the one and only Roger Federer. Last year, I got the chance to mark off one of the items from my bucket list. I had the opportunity to watch the federer express train up close and personal. It only took me a couple of seconds to realize that the land of chocolate and perfect watches and pocket knifes has also produced tennis perfection. With the same precision these Swiss watches point out time, Roger Federrer makes many world class tennis players look like little school boys in school looking for their lunchbox. I'd seen Federer on TV many many many times but to see him live was something else. What I love about Roger (That's right, I feel like we are pals now after hanging out in the player lounge for a while) is that he doesn't really look like he is playing tennis. He looks more like a ballerina, a complete contrast from Rafa who looks like a freaking Lion that has been kept without food for days. Don't get me wrong, I love Rafa (especially in the earlier days when he could barely speak English) but what's amazing about Rogerio (that would be his Colombian name) is that he's game is so perfect, so balanced, so efficient and so effortless than even more impressive that his 17 grand slam titles is the fact that other that a rare episode with mononucleosis in 07, he has been able to stay practically injured free. 

Ok now enough said about records. After he finishes his matches and looking like he hardly even sweat, he gives interviews in three different languages, and then goes on to kiss his wife and his two beautiful twin girls. Come on' give me a break. I'm sure Roger Federer steals grapes while shoping at the gorocery store, I'm sure he runs a red light here and there when nobody is watching.If you've seen the movie tin cup I would say I'd I would like to think Roger federer is mean to dogs, kids, and elderly people when nobody is watching. If you haven't seen this clasic, well I suppose my previous sentece made no sense whatsoever. 

Anywhoo, While we await to see what kind of dark skeletons roger federer hides in his closet, I can only continue to give thanks for living in his lifetime and continue to enjoy swiss perfection on the tennis courts… and I guess my ladie friends say he is easy on the eyes… not fair :)

Swiss Perfection
Family Man

For the laaaides!

Best of all. Roger Validates cool guys can cry too :)

25 June 2012


A big part of traveling is the ability to communicate in different languages. I read in some random study that 70% of communication is body language. I don't know what sample or what population this study was based on, but I would argue that this percentage would change according to a particular culture. For example, you could probably have a really good conversation with an Italian man or woman if you just wave your arms up and down, talk in the language of your choice, but pretend like your singing a little tiny piece of an opera piece and point in different directions. I promise you, one could do such a thing for a while and have a pleasant conversation. Try the same in France, but adding a couple of movements with your mouth back and forth. Try to imagine like your mouth is one of your arms and try to imagine that you are pointing at something. It works! don't believe me?  Let me show you how...

When I came to the U.S for the first time, I was 17 years old. I was a freshman in college and knew absolutely no English whatsoever. I barely passed my SAT with and embarrassing score of 860. I got 650 in math mainly because of equations. I discovered that in math, when it comes to word problems, it is a big deal if you are not 100% if the stupid train is moving west or east. For the English portion, I got whatever points you get for writing your name down (I guess that would be 210).  Point made, my English was terrible.

Despite my preconceived notion that Americans were rude, I was pleasantly surprise with the fact that people actually wanted to talk to me. This unexpected southern hospitality presented a bit of a problem. Then I discovered the most powerful words you can learn in a foreign language. It varies a little bit from language to language, but in English, these words were- "Oh really"… and "No way"
These magic two words did so much for me….how so, you ask?

People would approach me and start a conversation. as soon as I sense a pause in the conversation I would say "OH really!" and then the person would keep talking. After another pause I would add "no way!" and then I would just keep exchanging these two sentences back and forth back and forth. I can't tell you how many times I talked to people for long periods of time and had absolutely no idea what they were saying. This also proved the theory that many people will talk as long as they have an audience. Some conversations turned a bit "bumpy" when the person asked me a question but then I would just take a 50/50 chance and say Yes, sometimes, and No the other. I'll never know what I told people about me, but like I said here before, I was the weird foreign exchange student. I learned to embraced the fact that awkwardness was my new every day life.

Call me geek, but I find communication and languages fascinating. Even though I knew I could "wing it" with the "OH really, "no way" technique, eventually I had to learn new words, expand my vocabulary. One of the first words I learn in the English language… PICKLE. It happened after visiting a McDonald's in Florida and asking for a combo noomber (number) tu (two) and then, having to taste this demonic, circular, green thingy in my mouth. I had to learn what it was. One of my first complete sentences in the English language... Plis (please) combo noomber tu no pickles. 

After my second semester, My English got a lot better, but I had to face a new challenge… Idioms, slang and expressions. I think in the future I will dedicate a whole post to just different expressions from different cultures and countries. I remember in my first job hearing someone telling the story about a friend and hearing that the person "fell off the wagon". I kept thinking, "I hope that lady is ok." 

In my beloved Colombia we have many, many, many expressions but the one you need to remember is "no dar papaya" which means "don't give away your papaya". Literally speaking, it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, but it means something like "don't let your guard down". History tells us that when the Spaniards came to America, they were exchanging mirrors for gold with the native-Indians (muiscas, mayans,incas, etc) but maybe history has it all wrong. Maybe in Colombia they were exchanging papayas instead?

I have no idea what the answer to this riddle might be, but can you think of more expressions that make absolutely no sense?

Don't be shy, send them my way, I like this kind of stuff.if you don't want to reveal your identity just make sure you "don't give away your papaya"..

till next time… oh really?

I love it when people make an effort to speak a different language. Even if they butcher it.
I took this picture at the train station in Tokyo

Bathroom sign at the Grand Palace in Bangkok

Say What?  I took this while trying to find a doctor in Osaka, Japan

16 June 2012

Quotable Quotes: June

"The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” – Saint Augustine

Halong Bay, Vietnam
No caption needed :) 

These guys know how to rock in orange, Bangkok-Thailand

 Phi Phi Islands, Thailand

Hanoi City

Sahara Desert-Morocco

09 June 2012

LOCOMBIA: a paradise in disguise

There’s a lot of meaning packed into my blog tagline: “A Colombian expat travels the world.” My reasoning behind this blog is legitimate: I wanted to start documenting the extent of my travel experiences--40-some countries, from the tip of Alaska, to the bottom parts of the oceanic continent, from the corners of Japan to the sands of the Sahara Desert. BUT, as destiny would have it, my most recent travel excursion (and the true driving force behind Nomadiando), was to the country that raised me, and, in many ways, shaped me into the person that I am today...one of the most misunderstood countries in the world….my beloved Colombia.

Apart from a few rare exceptions, I believe most people in the world are proud of where they come from. Most people feel like the place they were born is the most worth-visiting place on the entire earth. This "pride" seems to be ingrained in one’s DNA, like genetic coding that grows in strength as each person grows up...taking more and more pride in their homeland. Now, I would like to make the case that for Colombians, this "genetic code" gets exponentially bigger as it mixes with the environment. Allow me to explain with a story:

The first time I stepped foot in the United States was July 2, 1994. This date may not mean much to you, but for me it marked one of the saddest, most infamous days in the history of Colombia. That morning, Andres Escobar, the captain of Colombia’s soccer team, was shot 12 times outside  "The Indio Bar" parking lot in Medellin. Andres Escobar was known as "el caballero del futbol" (the Gentleman of football) , for obvious reasons. He was tall, charming, educated, and worshipped by many. But on the 22 of June, during the 1994 world Cup (held in the United States), Escobar deflected a ball into his own net as he stretched to deny a cross ball from opposing U.S. midfielder John Harkes. A fateful accident, nonetheless. The USA won the game 2–1, and as a result, our heavily favored Colombian Team was eliminated from the tournament in the first round. 

The purpose of my afore-mentioned trip to the U.S was to practice at a tennis academy for an entire month. I remember some of the other kids’ remarks when I told them I was Colombian. They'd say things like "Ohh, isn't that the country where they kill athletes if they don't perform well in international competitions?" ...Fast forward a couple of years later...in college...and the question became "Oh, so your dad is like a drug dealer or something"?  For the record, my dad was a banker for 30+ years. His retirement coincided with me moving to the States for college, which meant his banking years translated into consulting work for a flower exportation firm. Roses, to be exact. Let’s just say my dad’s newfound career in the ‘exporting business’ didn’t exactly help this unfortunate stereotype.

The late 80's and early 90's  were probably one of the most turbulent times in the history of Colombia--the assassination of Andres Escobar marking the lowest point of all. The Medellin Cartel and Pablo Escobar's (note: an entirely different Escobar) drug empire was stronger that ever. I knew that the televised news I grew up watching differed drastically from the stories those American kids called ‘news’, whose ignorant questions made my blood boil for the sake of my country. But why was my first reaction the intense desire to swing a punch toward their sheltered, blonde-haired faces?  To teach them a lesson in "cultural differences"?...But why? They were right to think that way!! Andres Escobar was shot. We did, in fact, have one of the highest kidnapping rates in all the world. Colombia did have a reputation, and for obvious reasons, whether I liked it or not. It’s then that I realized my frustration came from knowing that the playing field is never truly level... Allow me to explain

I recently learned from a clinical physiologist that in marriage, (bear with me, and my analogy, I promise there will be a point) it takes five positive actions to change one negative. And this was the ratio found in couples whose marriages actually survived. Research shows that among the studied couples that ended in divorce, this positive to negative ratio was closer to 1:1. So what's my point? 
It takes much less effort to be corrosive and destructive than to build up and create. CNN will show you the faces of numerous Colombian cops and foreign nationals that have been kidnapped; they will show you Colombian drug laboratories and thousand of pounds of cocaine being confiscated; but they will never show you the remaining 98% of hard-working, warm-welcoming,life-loving people that fill this land, and make it something entirely different than the violent, fear-ridden facade the rest of the world believes.

Life is not easy in Colombia. Buses don't run on schedule, plumbers don't show up at the time they promise, jobs are hard to find. But, despite it all, the Colombian people still find reasons to dance...reasons to open their homes...and reasons to share an unrequited happiness and passion in life with those who surround them. My country may have a dark past, and we may have a wealth of adverse challenges still-to-face, but I promise you that the number of positives far outweigh those seemingly ominous negatives. But don't just take my word for it. I'm not the only one saying it :)

Villa de Leyva, Main Square

These have been popular on Facebook so why not post it? I think they're pretty Accurate :)

Gold Museum, Bogota Colombia

Bolivar Square, Bogota

Botero's "chubby" Mona Lisa

Taganga, Sierra Nevada Region


Organic Coffee

Minca Ecohabs

Cartagena, Colombia


Cartagenas' view from "el morro"

Nemocon Salt Mines