Simple Quote Sunday

“Every person must decide whether to walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness. This is the judgment. Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?”
-Martin Luther King Jr.

Snapshot Challenge Saturday

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to volunteer at the NEDA walk in Miami. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate out of any mental illness, and if we can help bring additional awareness to this important cause, more individuals can receive the help and support they need to overcome this awful disorder. Seeing so many individuals come together for a wonderful cause was truly beautiful, but knowing that even more individuals will receive the medical attention they deserve is even more beautiful.

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Running For A Cause: Part 4

As mentioned yesterday, this upcoming Sunday, January 24th, I’ll be running in the Miami Half Marathon to raise money and awareness for Misioneros Del Camino—a home for orphaned, abandoned, and malnourished children in Guatemala. Over the course of the next few days, I’ll be writing about Misioneros Del Camino and sharing the incredible background story of one brave woman’s calling from above to make a difference, as well as various success stories of some of the many children who grew up at MDC.

One such story is that of Mariano, Rosario, and Geovany, who arrived at the Home two and-a-half years ago at the ages of 7, 4, and a little over 1 year old (respectively). The children’s parents were alcoholics who wandered the street alongside their children. Mariano, the oldest, was in charge of his two younger siblings and was the one who made sure that they had food to eat. Their diet consisted of coffee and bread. At one point, Mariano would carry his younger sister Rosario because she was not able to walk.

Upon arriving at the Home, Geovany could not walk, stand, swallow food, and never smiled. Since arriving at the home, all three children have adapted very well, and as you can tell, Geovany’s development has improved significantly, and he smiles all the time! Thanks to the incredible work being done at Misioneros Del Camino, children like Mariano, Rosario, and Geovany can grow up in a loving environment, while enjoying their childhood to the fullest.

In honor of the work Mami Leo has done, in continuing her legacy, and to help provide a bright future to the current generation of children at Misioneros Del Camino, I am running in this week’s Miami Marathon. If you would like to help contribute to this incredible cause so that we can help fulfill Mami Leo’s mission, please feel free to click on the below link. And if you would like to learn more about Misioneros Del Camino, please feel free to clink on the bottom link.

https://www.gofundme.com/5y82yn78 
www.misionerosdelcamino.org 

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Day 2 In Cartagena, Colombia: Enjoying Our Last Night In The City

After our afternoon excursion of mud-bathing in Volcán de Lodo El Totumo came to an end, it was time for us to return to our hotel and enjoy our final evening in Cartagena. During the drive back to Hotel Carribe, we came across multiple motor taxis. We were told that you can spot a motor taxi if you see a motorcyclist with two helmets—one on his head and one in his hand.

An individual would take a motor taxi if he or she doesn’t want to wait in traffic, or if he or she is in a rush. There are roughly one hundred accidents each day involving motor taxis, and it doesn’t help that they don’t have licenses to drive others or even insurance. The issue at hand is that the first rule in the constitution states that all individuals have the right to a job. Therefore, if the government were to ban motor taxis, so many individuals would be out of a job. This would lead to protests, strikes, and the blocking of streets. So, while motor taxis are not legal, they are socially accepted in Cartagena.

Similar to Bogotá, Cartagena has zones that classify residents according to socioeconomic standings. However, unlike Bogotá, the zones in Cartagena are dispersed and not in order. So, for example, a poor neighborhood can be located next to a very wealthy one, whereas in Bogotá, the nearby neighborhoods slowly progress into wealthier or poorer neighborhoods.

After arriving to the hotel, we decided to take a walk along the beach and enjoy a nice dinner before having to pack our things and get ready for an early morning flight. As sad as it was to leave Colombia, we had a great trip, and I hope I can say I’ll be back soon!

Day 1 In Cartagena, Colombia Continued: El Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas and Las Bóvedas

As we continued with the city tour of Cartagena, our next stop was El Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas, which took more than 130 years of construction, and was finally completed in 1657. It is all made by hand and it was built from the top to the bottom by African slaves who were brought to Colombia. As you might notice, the walls are inclined and not straight because if a cannon were to hit the walls, it would not be able to go through it.

On top of the fortress, we came across the Colombian flag which is yellow, blue, and red. The yellow is meant to represent gold, the blue is supposed to represent the ocean (Colombia is the only South American country with two oceans), and the red represents the blood of the country’s martyrs. Some say that the yellow represents blonde hair, blue represents blue eyes, and red represents red lips since Colombian women are known for their beauty.

Throughout the fortress, there are small tunnels because years ago, the Spaniards were small and were able to enter the tunnels and run through them. The British and French were tall though, so they had to duck their heads and were not able to dedicate their complete concentration to running since they had to worry about not hitting the top of the tunnels. There are also various cabins that can be found throughout the tunnels where individuals would hide, and if they didn’t have a password to enter, they would be killed.

The only person to actually live in the fortress years ago was the leader of the army. Everyone else lived in what was called the walled city (since the city was walled off from pirates as mentioned in a previous post), and when enemies arrived, someone was in charge of ringing a bell, and when it sounded, soldiers would go running up the fortress. As we made our way to the top of the fortress, it began continuously pouring rain. After waiting for nearly 40 minutes, our group decided to walk down the fortress in the rain and go back to the bus. By the time we got onto the bus, we were soaking wet, and of course, the rain stopped within minutes. After this downpour, floods filled some of the streets due to the rain, and we were told that by 2017, the sea level will rise nearly feet due to poor drainage throughout the city.

At the bottom of the fortress, there is a statue commemorating Blas de Lezo who was once known as “Patapalo” or “Pegleg” and eventually as “Mediohombre” or “Half-Man” due to the numerous injuries he suffered during his time in the military. In the statue, “The man is brandishing a sword in his left arm, because he lost his right arm in the Battle of Barcelona; minus one leg lost in the Battle of Gibraltar; and wearing an eye patch covering his left eye lost in the Battle of Toulon. This same man lost his life in the Battle for Cartagena, the last of his 23 campaigns. This man is Don Blas de Lezo” (http://www.cartagenainfo.net/glenndavid/blasdelezo.html).

After drying off at the hotel and changing our clothes, we got back onto the bus made our way towards Las Bóvedas. Las Bóvedas, also known as “The Vaults” were built as dungeons and consists of 23 dungeons which were used to hold ammunition and at one point, prisoners. These dungeons were the last thing built by the Spaniards to close off the walled city. Las Bóvedas currently consists of shops, and it is where many tourists can be found purchasing locally hand-made items goods and artwork.

Day 2 In Bogotá, Colombia Continued: Andrés Carne de Res

After a long day of exploring Bogotá, we had the night off to do as we pleased—which really meant continue exploring the city on our own. As we were dropped off in the center of the city, we decided to stop at Andrés Carne de Res, also known as Andrés DC. First opened in 1982 by Andrés Jaramillo as a small restaurant with only ten tables, Andrés DC is now known throughout the city as a go-to restaurant and club for tourists and locals alike. Each floor in the restaurant is designed differently, as one represents hell, another represents purgatory, the third represents earth, and the last represents heaven. The concept of the restaurant is just as fascinating as the food is delicious.

After grabbing some appetizers and drinks at Andrés DC, we continued to walk throughout the city center until we found a restaurant to have dinner. As the night came to a close, we walked a little longer until returning to our hotel to prepare for a long day ahead—traveling to Cartagena, Colombia.

Day 2 In Bogotá Colombia Continued: Monserrate

After learning to play Tejo and enjoying a local lunch, it was time for us to continue our tour with a visit to Monserrate. Monserrate is a mountain located in the center of Bogotá, which is more than 10,000 feet above sea level. In order to get to the top of the mountain, one can walk, take a funicular train, or a cable car. We took the cable car, since it was the fastest and easiest means of transportation.
Upon arriving to the top of the mountain, we came across a type of plant called the angel trumpet bird which hummingbirds are attracted to, and which are unfortunately used by many to make date rape drugs.
At the top of Monserrate, there is a church which contains the Lady of Monserrat (Matron Saint of Monserrat), a replica of what can be found in Catalunya, near Barcelona. This replica has been around since 1630, and was fixed over in the eighteenth century. The mountain was named Monserrate due to this famous image being held here. This was supposed to be the main focal point to see (besides the view of course) here on Monserrate, but now, it is most famous for its statue of Jesus Christ being taken off the cross named “El Señor Caído,” (fallen Lord).
In 1656, the statue of Jesus, which is pictured below was brought to Monserrate. The hair on the statue is actual human hair, and if you’re wondering whose hair it is, I had the same question, but was not able to get a definitive answer.
The rest of the church was completed in 1925 and is a beautiful place of worship, not only for the incredible artifacts inside, but for the breathtaking view outside as well. As we walked around Monserrate, we spent a few minutes adjusting to the high altitude level by drinking coca tea. As a snack, hormigas culonas were passed around for us to sample, which translates to “Big ass ants.” Hormigas culonas have their name because the rear end of the ants are much larger in size. Only the queen ants are eaten, since the others are not considered edible. Often times, the wings and legs are removed, as the ants are soaked in salty water and roasted as a delicacy. I couldn’t bring myself to indulge in the ant eating, but both my brother and sister did, and watching them eat it was still quite the experience.