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March 19, 2011

The Spirit of Colombia on Salt Spring

It has been ages since I've gone outside with my camera and wandered with the hope of helping photographs to find me. The long winter/spring of monsoons and greyness has not inspired much of anything but cocooning.  It feels like I need a new locale to reignite the photographer's eye. A vacation. Yes, a vacation would be so fine right about now. Alas, not in the cards.

Today, however, a window of opportunity poked through. I made my way into Ganges early to catch the taping of the CBC program North by Northwest live at Barb's Bakery (a.k.a Barb's Buns).

The place was packed as host Sheryl MacKay interviewed some of Salt Spring's notables.  Here's a photo of writer Brian Brett (author of the book Trauma Farm) reading a poem about bread.

Afterwards, I wandered down to the float plane dock and was snapping photos when I spotted a young woman who seemed to be just hanging out. Eventually we said hello and I learned that she was from Colombia. She's lived on the island for about a year working as an au pair on Stowel Lake Farm.

Her beautiful name is Isela Mileth Espitia Fernandez. Her father told her he'd  heard the name and really liked the way it flowed. Are you sure it wasn't the woman who belonged to the name that you liked, she asked him jokingly. She claims he flatly denied that.

I asked her if she'd mind being the subject of my blog. She agreed and we proceeded to chat about how it was for a young woman from another culture to live here on this little island with so few eligible bachelors, especially in her age range.

She said she had a great host family and that she liked it. She's 26 years old and she originally left Colombia to be an au pair for a family from Pakistan who were living in the U.S. But, she returned to Colombia prior to coming to Canada and has hopes to be a dental hygienist once she gets her landed immigrant status. She found her host family on a website called GlobalAuPair.  After Skyping a few times, their mutual decision was made. She arrived on island in February 2010.

Her host family either owns the company of the cup she's holding (or maybe a franchise of it) called Guayaki Organic Yerba Mate. I wasn't totally clear on that. Her English is excellent and she said she learned it by listening to English speaking films and lyrics from popular songs. She'd take a line from a song and then try to learn it and understand it. How's that for dedication on learning a second language?

She looks after two small children who also speak Spanish and she says that Rio, the youngest, helps her to pronounce English words properly. She admits to having a lot of trouble pronouncing worm as in creepy crawly versus warm as in temperature.  Repeat after me: The rain in Spain grows mainly on the plain and the Yerba Mate in Colombia is warm, not worm.  

Since she was passing time and I had the entire day stretched out before me, I invited her to breakfast at The Treehouse.

 Afterwards, we walked over to a craft fair where Cory Judge, a friend of her host mother, was selling exquisite chinese silks and other "tantalizing textiles" under glass created into necklaces, earrings and belt buckles. Judge's  Shi studio is based in Victoria, B.C. This photo does not come close to doing the pieces justice.
  Create your own custom piece by visiting Shi Studio.

It turned into a lovely little morning. With camera in hand, you just never know what you might find or who you might get to know to turn an "ordinary day" (if there is such a thing) into a sweet little memory.

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