My twin sister is in love

She doesn’t know it yet. But I do.

Three days after I arrived here in California, Kat, my twin sister, brought me to her Bible study and introduced me to her group of friends. I went not knowing anything about any of them, and I left feeling something was brewing between Kat and one of the guys there named Adam.

It was the way their gaze always fell to the other when they talked. There was something in the way they looked at one another, like with a smile in their eyes.

Since then, I’ve seen Adam three more times and in those three times, I was left feeling more and more confident that these two not only like each other but also would be so insanely and unbelievably great for each other.

Initially, I resolved to keep my thoughts and observations to myself for a number of reasons. One, I didn’t want her to start feeling self-conscious whenever I’m with them. Two, Kat is the type of person who doesn’t talk about feelings and wouldn’t appreciate it if you force her to. And three, I wasn’t even sure if she herself knows she likes him.

Until five days ago.

She went go-karting with her Bible study group while I was at our cousins’ place. When we all met up for lunch the next day, we found out that she and Adam spent hours just talking at the parking lot of K1…until two in the freaking morning! According to her, they genuinely lost track of time. And we believe her, which is why the floodgates of unrelenting teasing and persistent questioning have been thrown wide open.

Yesterday, she finally admitted to liking him. “But just like,” she said. That I don’t believe.

She’s in love. I see it in the way she tries desperately to not talk about him, in the way she just lights up whenever she ends up talking about him anyway. I see it when they talk and she discovers they have another bizarre thing in common. I see it in the things that might be too little to be noticed by anyone else.

I can also see that she’s a bit terrified. I’m not sure what she’s more scared of – that he might not like her back or that he might actually do. And from what I’ve seen so far, I’m pretty sure it’s the latter. And not to brag or anything but I have correctly predicted my ex-boyfriend’s present girlfriend so I’ve proven that my gut feeling can be right.

I’m just genuinely excited for her. After years of focusing completely on her studies and career, she so deserves the butterflies in her stomach, the late night parking lot conversations and a chance at having a guy who is really good for her heart.

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My aunt, uncle and I interrogating her. Seriously.

Cartagena, Colombia in photos

It’s been a week since my 7-day trip to Cartagena, but I can still vividly remember the sheer happiness I felt every single day I was there.

I loved the culture, so similar to my own but at the same time so different as well. I loved the food! Oh my goodness, the food! My cousins and I couldn’t get enough of the fish dishes, the arepas, the empanadas, the plantains and the limonadas. I loved the people – always smiling even though my Spanish was terrible.

But most of all, I was just totally captivated by its beauty. We spent most of our days walking around and beyond the Walled City, and even under the intense heat and humidity, it was impossible to ignore the charm of the city – from the colorful, colonial houses and the cobblestone streets to the old churches and historical plazas. Everything about the city transported us to a completely different world. It was, to put it simply, amazing.

For those who need to see to believe, here’s proof:

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Cartagena street 1
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I want to move in!
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Cartagena street 2
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Cartagena street 3 and me
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Con mis chicas en una puerta en Cartagena
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Cartagena street 4
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Cartagena street 5
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A local artist, so unbelievably talented
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Cartagena street 6
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A beautiful cafe and bookstore
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A very charming local who serenaded us during dinner
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Plaza Santo Domingo at one in the morning
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Dolphins at Isla Del Rosario
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Playa Blanca

Special note A: We enjoyed our stay at the Calamari Hostal Boutique. The staff was very hospitable and friendly. They knew little English which was fine with me since I got to actually use my Spanish. Their rooms are nicely decorated and spacious. And compared to the other places inside the Walled City, their prices are more affordable.

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My cousins and I in front of Calamari Boutique

Special note B: My cousin and I paid a visit to Fundacion La Vecina, a non-profit that provides education to the kids of Cartagena who can’t afford to go to good schools. During our visit, we met some of the happiest and most polite kids we’ve ever met. To learn more about them, visit their website: http://www.fundacionlavecina.com/.

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With the adorable and delightful kids of Fundacion La Vecina

Muchas gracias, Colombia. I love you immensely. I cannot wait to come back and explore the rest of your beautiful country. I have my sights set on Bogota and Medellin.

 

 

There’s nothing more complicated than family

For a number of reasons:

First, we don’t get to choose our family so the chances of us ending up with people we won’t get along with are high.

Second, we can meet literally hundreds and thousands of people throughout our life but it will never change the fact that we will never meet anyone more different from us than family members, whether it be a crazy uncle, a weird cousin or an annoying sibling.

Third, no matter how many reunions we skip, we can never truly escape from said crazy uncle, weird cousin and annoying sibling.

Fourth, we know blood is thicker than water but no one ever tells us what the guidelines are when it’s blood against blood.

Fifth, we love them while we hate them, and we don’t know which one to base our actions on first.

Sixth, no matter how much we hate them, at the end of the day we love them so much that we don’t want them to hate us, so we end up doing something we hate to keep them happy.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is this supposedly wonderful and exciting vacation of mine is turning out to be extremely complicated. And I just want to rent a car, drive to the Grand Canyon, take a breath and scream out all the frustrations I have with this family I love so damn much.

Thinking in the dark

When I was a kid I always left a light on at night. I saw an episode of Ripley’s Believe It or Not where they showed what was left of a woman who was buried alive, and after that I couldn’t sleep in the dark anymore. I was afraid that I’d wake up locked inside a coffin.

I find it funny how I went from that to this, to feeling at peace in moments like this where all I’m left with are the darkness and my thoughts. I feel safe, protected from people’s judgment and sometimes my own.

I think of all the wonderful memories I had been blessed with, and I smile because it always feels nice to know that regardless of present circumstances there has been goodness in my life. It gives me hope that goodness will still come.

I think of the things I never should have done and I cringe because no amount of thinking could ever undo them. But I always make sure not to entertain those thoughts too long so I push them away in a corner.

And I think about the people I love and what I love or hate about them. Either way, I always think of how crazy amazing it is that I have them in my life. Sometimes, I find it unbelievable that I’m loved by the people I love and that I love the people who love me.

I think about my fears but instead of the darkness fueling them, it swallows them up one by one until the only thing left is my confidence to overcome them.

And then I think of my future and the things I hope it brings with it – fulfilled dreams, accomplished goals, exciting adventures, a really good job and, on sentimental nights like this, a genuinely good guy. On nights like this, the endless possibilities of the unknown excite me more than they terrify me. So I keep myself consumed with these thoughts until my thoughts turn into dreams. I love that. I love falling asleep to the images of the future I want for myself.

And I love thinking in the dark. It’s when my thoughts are the loudest.

Lost: dog. Found: jerks.

We found a dog yesterday outside the school premises. He was obviously loved by its owners because it looked well-groomed and healthy. But after asking the people nearby if the dog was theirs and everyone answered in the negative, we took him in. We named him Mocha because of the color of its fur and because we like mocha.

After talking about it among ourselves, we decided not to put posters of Mocha in the streets. He didn’t have a collar, name tag or anything so it was very possible for anyone to claim ownership and we’d be left with the choice of either believing them or not.

And today I had to make that choice.

Earlier this morning, two men came to the school saying they heard a dog barking. One of the men said he just lost his dog and thought that maybe it was his. I like to think I’m not the type of person who would judge people on their looks, but for some reason these two men seemed very sketchy to me.

And they proved me right when they said they lost the dog late last night. We found Mocha at eight in the morning. When the man claiming to be Mocha’s owner got the sense that they answered wrong, he immediately changed his answer to noon. I asked him what time exactly and, after some hesitation, he said 12.

They didn’t get the dog.

But now I am so pissed off. One of my co-teachers told me she talked about the situation to someone yesterday so I figured either of these men overheard it. And I just can’t believe how a human being could hear something like that and say, “Looks like I’m stealing a dog today. Lucky me!”

If those two men show their faces again, they won’t be seeing Mocha that’s for sure. They’ll come face to face with Thor, my family’s German Shepherd.

God talks, God listens

Every now and then, I feel  the need to put into words my faith and, more importantly, how God reignites it by reminding me two things:

He talks.

Last week, I was in a bookstore, trying to decide which notebooks to buy for my Sunday school kids. I don’t think I’ve ever shared this fact about me but I LOVE notebooks and having to choose one is a very serious and meticulous process for me that could literally take an hour. Anyway, after looking at all the wonderful notebooks on display, I finally sort of settled on one design, meaning I already had the notebook in my hand but other notebooks were going through my mind. Casually and without really meaning it, I said loudly enough for me to hear but soft enough that no one else would think of me insane, “Fine, I choose you. What do You think, Lord?” And I started to walk toward the store counter. But right there at the end of the aisle was a stack of notebooks that basically screamed, “Pick me!” They were cheaper too.

So I turned around to return the notebooks I was carrying and when I reached that part of the aisle, I saw my phone right there on the shelf with all the notebooks that now seemed easier to ignore. I didn’t even realize I put my phone down until I saw it there on display, waiting for some other notebook-loving girl to take it home with her.

Seriously, one of the things I enjoy most about God is His sense of humor. I left that bookstore saving more money than I would have, with notebooks I completely adore and with my phone still in my pocket.

He listens.

I teach at a small private preschool that you can describe as traditional and what I like to describe as classic. A few days ago, my mom and I talked about the decreasing number of students enrolling in the school, especially for the next school year. We talked about how we think most parents nowadays want to send their kids to bigger, more modern and progressive schools. She told me to pray about it. I said I would. Typical me though, I completely forgot. But last night, I finally remembered to include it in my prayers.

And then earlier today, two couples showed up to inquire about the school. One couple added their names to the reservation list and, although the other didn’t, they gave the impression that they were considering enrollment.

Another thing I love about God? His impeccable timing.