Tag Archives: Valle de Cauca

Todo Vuela y Se Va…

I just skimmed over my last blog entry from about a month ago…is it possible that was only a month ago? To all of you who know me as ‘Corinna who plans every detail of her life over the next 10 years’…I think we need to get reacquainted. Because that Corinna is on vacation right now. And I am working on keeping my head above water as my world get repeatedly turned upside down. Although I will be the first to say that every single change that has happened over this absolutely crazy last year of my life has ended up being wonderful. Which is why I am still holding on and doing my best to let the current carry me where it will.

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Hanging out in the hammock while Sergio works. We rented a beautiful cabin in the mountains with view over the Valley de Cauca.

In February I went public with the news that I was going to stay in Colombia for another year. I have been in love with Cali since I arrived. And then there is Sergio, who has totally and completely captured my heart. The only thing that didn’t feel perfect about staying was that I have been really missing my role as a nurse. Being a nurse, and now a new nurse practitioner, is so much of my identity and so much of my passion. I really miss my patients. I miss the sense of competency I get from doing something I am good at and that I care about so intensely. I miss the steep learning curve and the challenges I am faced with every day. I am head over heels in love with my life, but I feel this lack of professional identity. I think that if my Colombia world was solely made up of my amazing girlfriends, most of whom are foreigners who are here dancing salsa and teaching english and studying spanish, I might be better at justifying my life of luxury (right now most of my days consist of a dance class, a yoga class, lunch with friends, and reading a book- I am a lady who lunches.) These girls are here, filling their days with dance and yoga and class, because it is a way to be in Colombia. Not because teaching english and studying spanish are their professional goals. But because they have decided to take this time-out, to be in a place that makes their hearts sing. It’s a valuable message- to take that time-out. Life is too short to not take time-outs and let your heart sing. But there is this other part of me that doesn’t quite feel satisfied. That longs for the challenges of my career. And being by Sergio’s side magnifies that. He is so dedicated to his work, to his dreams, to learning, to making the most of his time and his skills. Every night, when he has been immersed in work all day long and all I have to report is another dance class…I feel a little embarrassed, like I am failing at my purpose in this world. I wish he could see me in MY world. Where I am driven and professional and good at what I do. Where I draw energy from the passion I have for nursing. Where I make a difference in people’s lives.

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My girls. My world. Delana and Sita.

 

Anyway. Back to the news. About a month ago, Sergio tearfully told me that he had been offered an amazing grant to go do his masters degree in France. In September. And that after much consideration he had decided he needed to go.

I am absolutely heartbroken. Grieving not only the loss of him, but of a city, a culture, and a language that I am completely in love with. I spent this year dreaming about having a life here. A sweet little house with exposed wood beams and adobe walls. My own papaya tree. A little brown baby strapped on my back. My heart always leaps a little when I get to claim Cali as my home. And now I don’t get to do that. Now I have to let her go. And it breaks my heart.

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Sunday afternoon nap in the hammock at Sergio’s mom’s house.

But it is a wonderful opportunity for Sergio. I have been thinking a lot about my break-up with Cameron last year and what a gift it was that he was able to give me his blessing and let me go. It was partly because of this, that I was able to land here in Colombia with such an open heart, to really embrace this year like I have. And now the world has come full circle. It’s my turn to let go of someone I love so that they can have the experiences they deserve in the world.

So my world is a crazy roller coaster of laughter and tears right now. I have never been so happy and so sad at the same time. I am falling more in love every day and simultaneously grieving the loss of that love. I currently have a reputation for bursting into tears at any moment, no matter where I am or who I am with. In 9 days I will be arriving in San Francisco. *sigh* I am working hard to enjoy every moment I have left in Colombia. But everything is slightly tinged with a tear.

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Delicious dinner party with friends on a terrace overlooking Cali. Our group this evening was from Colombia, Australia, Poland, US, England, and Mexico.

There is more. Two days after Sergio told me the news (two exhausting days of emotion) I gave into my need to plan my life and decided to google nurse practitioner jobs in Portland. Having a back up plans makes me feel better- it gives me the illusion that I have some control over what is happening. =) I stumbled immediately upon my dream job. And the application was set to close in 36 hours. I scrambled, and I dragged 4 amazing UCSF professions along with me, all of whom managed to whip out reference letters within 24 hours. (Thank you!!!) And it paid off, because I was selected to be flown out for an in-person interview in June. If this job materializes, it will be my saving grace in this transition because it gives me a real true valid reason to be there instead of here.

The job is a new graduate nurse practitioner residency program at the Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic. Nurse Practitioners don’t get any sort of residency after graduation- we just jump right in and spend a year trying to keep our heads above water. It’s up to each individual to negotiate with the employer as to the support you need for your first year. But it’s rough. As the healthcare systems change in the US, dependance on NPs as providers is rising fast. In order to meet the needs of the population for primary care providers, the system is going to rely very heavily on NPs and Physician Assistants since we have a serious lack of family med doctors in the US (everyone wants to specialize). In the last few years these NP residency programs have started to pop up around the country, but it looks like there are still only a handful of them. They are mostly in Federally Qualified Health Centers and are an attempt to increase the number of primary care providers working in low-resource, high-needs settings.  It’s a 12 month, fully salaried position that combines “precepted primary care sessions, specialty rotations, mentored independent clinics and didactic sessions.” It’s basically a fully paid 3rd year of grad school- a residency to get me on my feet. And not only is it the kind of supportive environment I am looking for, but it is in a clinic that provides real primary care to a population of low income and spanish speaking families located just 3 hours from Portland and 2 from Seattle. I couldn’t ask for more (except maybe to bring all of Cali with me in my suitcase..) I will be interviewing in Yakima on June 9th and 10th. Keep your fingers crossed for me! (I’m still kind of amazed that they are flying me out…they even asked me if I wanted a community tour and what was important for me to see. It’s like they are wooing me. I’ve never been wooed for a job before! Especially one I want so much!)

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When I told Sergio I had finally purchased a pair of animal print leggings, he wasn’t exactly excited. So the girls and I decided to surprise him with a bit of animal print attention.

So that is my life right now. I feel like I have my heart on my sleeve all the time. I am so sad that my chest aches. I am so excited that I get giddy. I am so in love that it is written all over my face. So don`t be shocked if I burst into tears when I see you and you give me welcome home hug. They may be tears of joy. They may be tears of sadness. Or I may have no idea what-so-ever where they are coming from. Sometimes I just need to cry for a minute.

See you all soon…Mil abrazos de Colombia.

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Sunday birthday celebration at a farm outside Cali.

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My beautiful Cali

“Nada hay absoluto, todo se cambia, todo se mueve, todo revoluciona, todo vuela y se va.”
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“Nothing is absolute. Everything changes, everything moves, everything revolves, everything flies and goes away.”

~ Frida Khalo

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Filling Up The Love Tank

It has been way too long between posts- I apologize. The good news is that my excuse is Having Too Much Fun. It’s been a whirlwind couple weeks that included a number of visitors, a lot of English speaking, and some needed soul recharging. It all started with my lovely little sister Alicia who stopped by on her way home from a summer of volunteer work in Ecuador.

Best Sisters

Best Sisters

Alicia and I have always been close, but we spent the last few years trying to navigate a changing relationship- from little girl:mother-figure (10 years age difference) to Two Adult Sisters. Last summer we traveled to Nicaragua together and I found myself confused about my role. Was I her cool travel buddy or her guardian? Was I supposed to join her in flirting at the bar or was I supposed to glare at the boys protectively? This summer it felt like we were meeting on equal ground. She was an easy going, mature guest. She speaks Spanish, she understands how to navigate Latin American culture, she deals with the heat and the food and the men like a pro. She was just as happy to salsa dance until 3 am as she was to cuddle up in bed with Netflix and a margarita. I think part of it was that Alicia is growing up (into an amazing young woman I might add.) But another part of it is that I am rediscovering how to have fun…in the old fashioned 20-something way that I kind of skipped for most of my 20-somethings. As part of my Great Life Change (also known as my Saturn Return- look it up) that started this last summer, I have managed to let go and live a little. And that includes laughing and dancing and meeting new people in a way I haven’t done for years. And yes, it often lasts until 3  or 4 am. And I love it.

Cracking up during Happy Hour Margaritas at Mister Wings.

Cracking up during Happy Hour Margaritas at Mister Wings.

The weekend after Alicia left was Festival Petronio Alvarez a gigantic free music festival in Cali that celebrates Pacific Colombian culture, specifically AfroColombian culture from the coast. A number of Fulbrighters from Medellin and Bogota came to town for the weekend so Elena and I traveled with a pack of ladies and we had a wonderful time.

Sharing out Arrechón with new amigas

Sharing out Arrechón with new amigas

Every evening, as the breeze came in and sun started to back-off we wandered down to the Pan-American Fields where we spent the evenings dancing to marimba, drums, and maracas under the full moon and treating ourselves to new sensory experiences straight from the coast. Fried plantains covered with shrimp in coconut sauce. Fried potato stuffed with shark. Arroz con Mariscos. Ceviches. Shrimp empanadas. And of course, bottle after bottle of Arrechón and Viche. Viche is a bootleg backyard sugar cane alcohol. Not delicious. But Crema de Viche and Arrechón…YUM.  Arrechón is a funny story. The word actually means “pissed off” except on the Pacific Coast where it means “horny.” Yup…it’s supposedly a very potent aphrodisiac known for improving male virility as well as cleaning out all the female “parts” in preparation for reproduction. =) And it’s the drink of choice at Petronio. Made of Viche, sweetened condensed milk, peanuts, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Turns out it’s also a very potent hangover inducer.

The main stage at Petronio

The main stage at Petronio

The weekend of Petronio, I was also lucky enough to receive a visit from Pilar Bernal de Pheils who is my mentor and professor from UCSF- the reason I am in Colombia right now. Pilar is from Cali and I had the pleasure of accompanying her, her mother, and a few other professors on a day trip to La Hacienda El Paraiso, a historic old hacienda/plantation outside Cali.

Pilar, my mentor and friend.

Pilar, my mentor and friend.

The best part of the trip (besides being Pilar of course) was the chance to appreciate the countryside around Cali. Without a car, my options for getting out of the city are limited. And maybe it was Pilar’s enthusiasm (you could really tell that the beauty of her home touches her soul) but I absolutely fell in love with the countryside. The deep green valley flanked on both sides by towering mountains. The gigantic trees with roots that reach for miles, their branches hanging with spanish moss and bromeliads. The cattle grazing, the villages we passed, the colonial haciendas…all amazing.

Valle de Cauca

Valle de Cauca

On the Hacienda

On the Hacienda

Amazing trees

Amazing trees

On Monday one of my very best friends in the world, Victoria, arrived for a visit. She arrived baring gifts (directly off my List of Requests). She was my wing woman for the week, accompanying me to new parts of Cali I had been too shy to explore on my own. It was so wonderful to be loved by someone who knows me so well- just what I needed.

Best Friend Love

Best Friend Love

Word on the street is that the Ethic’s Committee is done with their initial review of my project and I should have a list of revisions in hand soon. Which means that Phase 1: Recruitment is just around the corner! Today I wandered around town until I wandered into “Professional Printers” block, picked one that looked good (kind of like picking a Tarot card…I just go with my gut) and had my posters and brochures all printed off. So exciting!

Feeling very official...

Feeling very official…

These will soon be gracing the walls of the Centro de Salud Siloe. I’m not counting on getting very many phone calls since no one ever has any credit on their phones around here, so my plan centers around charming the nursing assistant (“You look lovely today! Oh yes, you are KEY to this study because all the patients trust and respect you sooooo much…oh and here is a small gift, a token of my appreciation for all your help with recruitment…”) so that she will collect names and numbers for me on a sheet of paper. Every Monday I will swing by the clinic to collect the *massively long* list of interested participants. As soon as I have about 12-15 confirmed eligible women (I’m anticipating anywhere between a 25% to 50% no show rate…) I will schedule and hold my first focus group. But that is for a future post…once  actually have something to report!

Thank you all for baring with me these last weeks and for all the comments of love, support, and encouragement.  I’m missing the fall (all your photos of pumpkin patches and leaves!) but am still enjoying all my hours spend swimming in the beautiful outdoor pool and the evenings in tank tops. Abrazos for everyone!!!

The last light over San Antonio Church

The last light over San Antonio Church

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