ignorance is bliss

6:27 PM Marcie 0 Comments

We have started traveling again - for zone conferences this time! Last week we were in Medellín and Belén, and this week we went to Pasto. It was... well, interesting. On several occasions my mom and I would laugh uncontrollably on account of having no idea what was going on or what we were doing there. Our traveling experiences are just too good not to share, mostly due to the fact that we have no idea what's going on.

It starts on the plane. Actually, it starts in a taxi at 4 AM, meaning we wake up at 3:30 AM. We just love our early morning schedule. We're all a little delirious. We actually would have no clue what to do or where to go without the elders. These pictures were taken at 6 AM, because as I recall, we thought it would be "fun for everyone to see what type of plane we fly on."
 I laugh every time I see this.
The hotel in Pasto was out of control, like always. There were problems checking in and out, a suitcase belonging to someone else in our closet (it was gone when we had come back from meetings - we put a chair in front of our door that night), strange people showing up at our door, etc. If that's not enough, for some reason we always seem to get the honeymoon suite or something. It comes complete with pink mood lighting, big tub in the middle of the room, and uncomfortable pictures, I mean, art on the wall. Why? We definitely did not ask for any sort of honeymoon suite.
We had some time to kill while my dad was in interviews, so my mom and I decided to take a taxi to La Cocha, which we had heard was a beautiful lake in the mountains. We drove up this sketchy mountain with road repair, mudslides, and fog. At this point we were both wondering what we had gotten ourselves into. We finally reached the town - which was flooded. Did that stop the taxi driver? Definitely not.
We pulled into the town and were swarmed by people wanting to take us on a boat ride around the lake. Did I have a clue what was going on? Definitely not. Next thing I know, the three of us (my mom made the taxi driver come with us) are piling on this tiny boat with this old woman who I swear was speaking some indian dialect, and we ventured out into questionable waters in the rain. Good thing there were life jackets on board to protect us... from the rain.
The last night in Pasto, my dad was our working with the missionaries and left mom and I to fend for ourselves for dinner. Not brave enough to venture outside in the freezing cold/dangerous streets of Pasto, we decided to play it safe and eat downstairs in the hotel restaraunt where we had eaten the past 3 meals. First of all, the place was eerily empty. We sat down, wondering if it was open, when we saw the waiter come in, from outside the hotel. We asked for a menu to share. He came back with a bowl of soup. We asked for french fries. He told us they would take too long. He came back with a plate of... leftovers?

We started noticing that the other people who had come in also did not get a menu, and instead got the same mush of questionable leftovers. We asked for dessert. He came back empty handed. We still have no idea what was going on! Was it no-food-Wednesday or something? We had eaten there all week with a normal menu and normal results. I wish I had taken a picture of the food we got. Menú is pretty hard to confuse with sopa, Hotel Bolivar. Our Spanish isn't that bad, I promise.

So... we are living in ignorance. Our insufficient Spanish and lack of understanding of the culture leaves us, at times, utterly confused. Sometimes it's more traumatizing than funny, but laughing about it has certainly made it more enjoyable.


don't judge a book by its cover

7:47 PM Marcie 0 Comments

I can't get enough of this beautiful green country.
I've have been lucky enough to travel the west coast of Colombia and visit almost every major city within the Colombia Cali mission. 
This means driving through the mountains, valleys, and countryside.
I've seen cathedrals, waterfalls, rainbows, busy cities, and have met hundreds of loving missionaries and Colombian people along the way. 
My parents have spoken at firesides, conferences, meetings, etc, 
and I've played piano at every meeting I've attended. 
We squeeze in some sightseeing if we have time.

I am overwhelmed again and again with how loving the people are. 
People here welcome you with literal open arms, kisses on the cheek, unnecessarily large meals, and smiles. 
I sit down with people who talk my ear off, regardless of how much I understand, and like always, ask me what I think of Colombia. 
I always tell them that I think it's beautiful. 
Granted, there's not that much I can say in their language anyway, 
but I really do think it's absolutely beautiful.
To my surprise, many people have asked if it's a lot different than everything I heard before I came. I don't really know that I heard too much about Colombia before I came, and I'm not exactly sure what I expected. They painfully tell me that most people just assume Colombia is a dangerous place and only associate it with drugs. 
I guess that's true.
It makes me sad to hear that many people think so poorly of their country. 
They always tell me I will learn to love it. 
I think I already do! 

Lesson learned: Don't judge a book by it's cover. Not by what you see on the news, hear from your friends, or read in the papers. Colombia is beautiful and full of wonderful people, despite what it may have been years ago.

my mom did think I was kidnapped for a solid half hour today and had the elders looking for me. She made sure no one in the office told El Presidente. 
I'm safe, Dad, I promise!

note to self: learn to salsa so I can participate in future spontaneous salsa dance parties


count your blessings

9:07 PM Marcie 1 Comments

A few things I will appreciate oh-so-much-more upon returning to the states:
  • Indoor heating. One of the zones we traveled to, Pasto, is on top of a mountain, which means it is freezing. All the time. Definitely didn't take that into consideration when packing for a country so close to the equator. Because of the lack of indoor heating, even our hotel was ice cold. I shamelessly wore my dad's thick dress socks underneath my sandals and every shirt I brought for the weekend, including my mom's cardigan underneath my own sweater. Bring on the crazy North American stereotypes.
  • Diversity. I like to claim that my high school was about 50% white, 50% everything else. Needless to say, I was exposed to a lot of different races. Here, everyone is pretty much pure Colombian, and it's not exactly a hot tourist spot either. Whenever I go anywhere, I get stared at. It is quite possible that I, Marcie Prince, am the first Caucasian many people have ever encountered in the flesh.
  • Safety and security. I feel like safe in Colombia does not mean the same thing as it does in the states. Although this is a relatively "safe" time for Colombia, it's definitely not recommended to go frolicking around the city. This means that I can't go out unless I'm with my parents, who happen to be busy 90% of the time. As a result, I sit inside our apartment. But hey, I've read two books already!
  • Dishwashers, washing machines, and dryers. Even though we are fortunate enough to have these appliances in our humble apartment, most Colombians are not. Also, they are slightly less reliable than the ones in America. Our dishwasher was not installed for the first five days we were here. No problem. We just washed our dishes by hand - until our sink broke and almost flooded out kitchen four times. Even after the sink was "fixed" and the dishwasher was so-called "installed," water poured out onto our kitchen floor. By that time, I couldn't stop laughing.
  • Traffic laws. Good gosh. The roads are terrifying. After over a week of avoiding driving out of pure fear, my mom finally buckled up and took the steering wheel yesterday. We survived!
  • Clean water. You cannot drink the water here. It has a myriad of parasites and other wonderful things that make you sick. It's not hard to find filtered water, but I sure am grateful that the water in the states is safe!
  • English. I admire these missionaries who are trying to learn English. Learning a new language is awful, and I am just not sure I'm motivated enough to really master Spanish! The embarrassment and frustration from my lack of communication just might do it for me though. We'll see where I'm at by the end of the summer.
  • Cups, Miles, Fahrenheit, and other US forms of measurement. Go ahead and try to bake cookies using grams and degrees Celsius. 
  • Friends. Missing my friends back in the states. It's no fun to not have a cell phone and have to communicate via the internet. Thank goodness for social media.


when in rome, do as the romans do

2:22 PM Marcie 3 Comments

or in our case, when in Colombia, do as the Colombians do.

For example:
  • Speak Spanish. They do not understand English, and they will look at you funny if you try to talk to them in English. They do not understand you if you say "como se dice ____." Try to picture my dad attempting to ask his missionaries how to say "assert yourself".
  • Drive like a maniac. They do not tolerate timid driving, and they will hit your car - and drive away. Honk frequently, drive in the middle of two lanes, disregard all stop signs and traffic lights, and look out for the millions of "motos" (motorcycles/scooters).
  • Give gifts to guests. My parents and I went to a single adult fireside, and they gave us all gifts. I was given a Colombian leather purse. Seriously? I'm obsessed.
  • Eat a huge lunch. Breakfast and dinner might as well not exist. Their lunches are the size of all 3 meals combined.
  • Keep all the windows open. Air conditioning is rare here, and sometimes the buildings don't even have windows that close. Sounds hot, but it's actually so breezy and quite lovely. In one of the church buildings, there is a courtyard in the middle of the building, and everything is wide open. I love it.
  • Carry a machine gun. Just kidding... but we have indeed seen some with the DAS and police officers who chill in the streets.
  • Ride the MetroCables! In Medellín, there are metro cable cars that take you up the mountains. You can see the entire city, and it's beautiful!
  • Give big hugs and kiss all the women on the cheek. Colombians are a very loving people and so friendly! I have gotten more kisses on the cheek in the past 5 days than I have in my entire life.
  • Listen to uncomfortably loud music into the early hours of the morning so no one can sleep. Around 10 PM, the music starts, and if you're not like me, who can sleep like a rock, you will be kept awake.
  • and in my case, walk through the city with my bodyguards, the elders! I fit right in, minus the nametag. Just call me Hermana Prince!


it's a small (mormon) world after all

9:52 AM Marcie 1 Comments

So here I am in Cali, Colombia, sitting on the balcony of our 15th floor apartment. It is so green and beautiful. I've had quite the eventful past few days, having traveled to an entirely different continent and two new countries. I've never really been outside of the country - excluding some vacations to the Caribbean, which don't count - so this has been quite the adventure! Until now, I've actually been lucky to speak a lot of English with the other North American mission president couples we were traveling with, two of the new Lima East mission president's daughters who are learning English, and some of the Area Office leadership in Peru - but we're on our own now!

We have officially arrived in Colombia, and it seems like another world. South America is so incredibly different. In fact, the first thing I thought when I landed in Peru was that I cannot believe the world is so big. It is so amazing to me that there are places like this all over the world where people are living their lives in different languages with different cultures and different everything! Every aspect of life is different.

But what is it about the Mormon world? Everyone always seems to somehow known someone who knows someone, and we always make these weird connections. Despite the grandiose size of the world - don't think about it too much; it'll give you a headache - the mormon world is so so small. My first day in Peru we went to the Lima temple. When my dad came out of the session and told me that an Elder Richards from the McLean Stake was there, I couldn't believe it. I went around front, and sure enough, there was Stephen Richards. He is in the Lima MTC and it happened to be his P-Day! What are the chances?
The next day my parents had meetings at the Area Office pretty much all day, so they arranged for me to hang out at the mission home of the Lima Central Mission. President Tyler has an 18 year old daughter, Melissa, who is going to BYU in the fall, so we were talking about how she's going to be a freshman and such. This is how the conversation went:

So are you going to be living in the dorms?
No, I'm actually going to be living in Liberty Square to be closer to my brothers.
No way, me too! What building?Jefferson, I think.
What! No way! Me too! What apartment?
27 maybe?
WHAT! That's my apartment!!

My friends and I are living in a 6 person apartment, and there are 5 of us, which means we had one random roommate. Turns out that Melissa is going to be our 6th roommate! What are the chances of meeting her in Peru, of all places. Small world eh? I spent the day exploring Lima with her, and I'm really excited to be living with her in the fall!

Now that I'm in Cali, there is a LOT to learn. For starters, spanish. Yikes. I have actually been able to understand a lot more than I thought I would, but it is so mediocre that it's embarrassing. Today I woke up and my parents were gone - leaving only me and the maid (why yes, we have a maid named Ana... I know). My feeble attempts to communicate with her left me completely confused, and I felt like an idiot. I'm getting really good at smiling and nodding.

Goal for the summer: be able to successfully communicate with Ana.

p.s. aren't my parents the cutest?