It’s been over a month now that I’ve been in Colombia, and I can’t shake the feeling that it’s been way longer. When I first got here, I came with my mom. Five of her six siblings live here, along with the majority of my cousins, so there were lots of visits, outings, meals, and parties planned. The three weeks she stayed were therefore a whirlwind of all these. We stayed with my Tia Helena and Tio Jorge at their place near Bucaramanga (a nice and hot part of the country) for two weeks before driving to Bogotá to stay for one week. It’s a really, really beautiful seven-hour drive that goes through (and by through I mean up, up, up and down, down, down) Chicamocha Canyon, and then through lots of little towns and varying landscapes. Here are some photos from the journey:
My mom walking in the old streets of the town Socorro.
Beautiful country landscapes dominate the last stretch of the trip. Rolling green hills and grazing cows are everywhere.
After one final week in Bogotá, saying bye to my mom at the airport was really hard. I’ve been away from home before but never for over a year so it’s something new for both of us. Plus, she’s a crier…I’m a crier…. things inevitably got emotional. But I’m excited to get to know the country she grew up in, and I know she’s excited about it too.
Since then I’ve been staying with my cousin, Elena, and my Tia Consuelo at their place in Bogotá, and it’s been really fun. I’ve been able to explore the city, to try and figure out the (highly illogical) metro system “Transmilenio”, to hang out with lots of family, to get a taste of Bogotá nightlife, to work on my writing and my TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course, as well as to continue practicing my Spanish.
But back to that feeling of I’ve been here forever: I’m having trouble recalling what my room back home looks like. My job with the city seems like a distant memory. Speaking English out loud is feeling weirder and weirder. Paying more than the equivalent of $1 for a coffee is starting to seem extravagant! But with this feeling have come some definite positive personal changes. For example, two days ago I was reading an article online, and I didn’t realize it was written in Spanish until the very end. Wow! That felt really good.
Additionally, a lot of my worries and questions about the safety of wandering the city have been alleviated. Colombia has a bad rep as a result of its incredibly rough past (which has been further exaggerated by movies and TV shows like Narcos), but it is definitely a country on the mend. It’s evident in Bogotá streets. Thieves are not lurking at every corner. There are no gun fights happening in the middle of the night. Instead, there are just ordinary people doing ordinary jobs, trying to make an honest living just like everyone else; there are wide, clean streets; there are big, modern buildings; there are delicious restaurants with food from all around the globe. Not to mention that there are marches and events happening with hopeful citizens demanding peace. It’ll happen soon! It’s a bustling, exciting, at times chaotic city but all in all, I have never felt like I was in danger, and taking regular precautions, I feel comfortable exploring solo.
This increased sense of security, my improving fluency with the Spanish language, and the comfort of having lots of family around have all led to this feeling of having been here way longer than reality dictates. And actually, that makes me really happy – it feels good to be so comfortable in a city that is in my genealogical roots.
In a way, it feels like I’ve come home.
That being said, I do miss a good Tim Hortons Boston Cream donut every now and then, but hey, you can’t have it all!
Until next post.