- By addictive nature
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A year ago today a non-Spanish speaking gringo stepped out of the Barranquilla airport for the first time. He fought his way through a crowd of people looking for someone holding a sign with his name on it, but he saw no one. That young scraper walked right passed the three young women waiting to pick him up and got into a cab. He handed the cab driver a business card he was given before leaving that had the directions to his hotel on the back. “Por favor, aqui,” he said.
He stared out the window in amazement as the cab drove through some of the poorest and most dangerous areas to get to the center of the city. This was after all his first time in another country, not including a trip to Canada with the North Carolina Boys Choir and the time he stepped over the Rio Grande into Mexico with his grandfather and brother for a few seconds just to say they were there. After a thirty minute drive the cab stopped in front of what appeared to be a bar not yet open, it was only 9 am. “Estamos aqui compadre,” the driver said. The young gringo looked out the window in confusion. Could this really be the place he was supposed to sleep? There were beer bottles all over the patio and a large group of people sitting outside on the stoop.
“Amgio, ¿este es un hotel?” the gringo said.
“No, esta es La Troja! Un lugar para bailar salsa,” he replied while mimicking the dance. The cab driver then held up the La Troja business card and showed the confused passenger. The gringo took the card, turned it around, and pointed to the written directions on the back.
When they finally arrived at the hotel there was a man that looked like a cartoon character waiting outside. The gringo had been given descriptions of the people he would be working with and knew for sure this had to be the project manager, Gustavo. He didn’t take two steps out of the car until the man approached him.
“Are you Mike?” he asked.
“Yes, are you Gustavo?” the gringo replied.
“Where were you at the airport? There were three girls from the university waiting for you. You are late, we need to hurry up and get to the studio. Give your bags to the door man and let’s go,” he said in not quite fluent English.
The gringo was surprised to arrive at a house; he had imagined the studio being in some building or on the university campus. Instead it was tucked behind this cozy house, with tall walls surrounding it and a full family living inside. It was small but fully equipped. The gringo walked into the room and felt the eyes of a small crowd looking him over. They had been waiting a week for this man to walk through the door, most of them picturing an overweight, older gringo stomping into the room eating a corndog. They were taken back by how young and handsome he was… jaja
The gringo was immediately put on the spot. He was asked to sing; to record the voice of Mike, one of the main characters on the radio show they would be creating; and in an unexpected turn of events asked to be the voice of Lola, the female parrot in the show. The first few hours of recording were shaky. The gringo was nervous and the people in the studio expected great things from him, after all he did come all the way from Washington, D.C. because he was an expert. Right? It took a few days for everyone to get comfortable working together, but once they did they made magic.
Today the gringo and his friends/colleges are one week away from finishing that radio project. In all, they have made three years worth of material for primary schools to use. The gringo has done and learned many things since that day he stumbled around the city for the first time. While he is sad he will have to leave this amazing country in less than a month, the thought that the songs he has created will be played in schools every week for years to come makes him happy. It is as if he never will leave…