One name is Rio Sucio which translates to Dirty River. Imagine living in a town called Dirty River; you wouldn’t really want to tell all your friends where you lived, would you? It’s not exactly the most romantic place name on the planet. Be honest, if you had a new girlfriend, do you think she would be impressed if you told her you were from Dirty River? There’s a town in Wales called Mold, (US English, mould in British English, but the pronunciation is the same) and for me this name has similar connotations.
Another is Salsipuedes, Leave if you can. Must be a great place to live or visit if it’s that good! Then there’s Abriaqui, Open Here, which reminds me of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, a comedy programme that used to be on television in Britain when I was much younger. It was a crazy, zany, bizarre programme with many funny sketches. Follow this link to see a video of one of my favourite sketches from the programme. The reason the name Open Here reminds me of Monty Python is because I can just imagine a sketch where pioneers arrive in some valley and decide that it is the perfect place to build a new settlement, they start trying to come up with a name and after much brainstorming they notice an old tin of sardines and that’s it, Open Here is born.
Finally there’s La Ceja, The Eyebrow, a town about one hour from Medellin. I know La Ceja very well as my brother in law used to have a holiday home or finca (as it’s called in Spanish), there. It’s common here in Colombia for families with sufficient income to own a holiday home which is often shared by the family. I like La Ceja a lot and spent many relaxing times walking around the area. It’s a small town, though these days it’s growing quite fast as people start to consider leaving the city to live a more tranquil life in the countryside.
We used to go to the holiday home most long weekends, of which there are many in Colombia, at Easter and for two or three weeks at Christmas. I used to enjoy going there as I love the countryside and nature. It’s strange but when I am in the countryside, especially when it's a very peaceful, isolated area, I feel as if I am part of the whole, it’s a beautiful, exhilarating feeling. I never feel that in the city. The only problem for me regarding staying at holiday homes here in Colombia is that usually many people go and so it is not as peaceful and relaxing as it could be. Four or five people is fine, but fifteen, twenty is too many for me. I struggle a lot in those situations.
Recently a friend of mine lent me a book her husband had read called “Quiet.” by Susan Cain about introverts, she thought I would enjoy reading it as she noticed similarities between me and her husband. After only a few pages I read a short paragraph and thought, wow that’s me. I haven’t finished it yet, but when I do I’ll give you some more insights from the book. Basically even though I am a good communicator and enjoy teaching I also feel very comfortable being alone. For me a great way to relax is to do solitary things, reading, listening to music, walking, swimming, or meditating. I thoroughly enjoy solitude. I can cope with groups of people and noise for short periods of time, but then it starts to feel like torture and I need to escape very quickly and find a peaceful place to be on my own or with animals rather than people. That’s how I recharge my batteries. Sitting among trees in the countryside, listening to the sounds of nature with my dogs, and I feel at peace with the world.
I once had a student who was the opposite. If her husband was out and she was left alone in their flat she couldn’t stand it and had to go to a shopping centre or somewhere where there were a lot of people, otherwise she would go crazy.
Now, I must warn you that the next part has a very sad ending so if you are prone to bursting into tears when the heroine of the story dies after her long battle against cancer then I suggest you go and grab some tissues before reading any further!
In North Wales, in the Snowdonia National Park, in the county of Gwynedd, there is a village called Beddgelert. Bedd is the Welsh word for grave. Just outside the village, under a tree in a field, there is a monument. This is the story of that monument.
According to legend, the stone monument in the field marks the resting place of 'Gelert', the faithful hound of the medieval Welsh Prince Llewelyn the Great.
The story is written on the tombstone, and reads:
"In the 13th century Llewelyn, Prince of North Wales, had a palace at Beddgelert. One day he went hunting without Gelert, "The Faithful Hound", who was unaccountably absent. On Llewelyn's return the truant, stained and smeared with blood, joyfully sprang to meet his master. The Prince alarmed, hastened to find his son, and saw the infant's cot empty, the bedclothes and floor covered with blood.
The frantic father plunged his sword into the hound's side, thinking it had killed his heir. The dog's dying yell was answered by a child's cry. Llewelyn searched and discovered his boy unharmed, but nearby lay the body of a mighty wolf which Gelert had slain. The prince filled with remorse is said never to have smiled again. He buried Gelert here".
Sorry to finish on such a sad note, but sometimes it’s good to cry.
Follow this link and you will find a poem about Gelert by David Lewis Paget.