The Best of Bogotá

After three months (!!!) in the heat and sabor of Barranquilla, it was recently time for a trip back to the capital city’s familiar overcast chaos.

Bogotá seemed bigger and almost more threatening upon my return. I forgot how massively the city stretches under the mountains, how 50 blocks is an average distance to travel, how the pollution sticks in your throat and nostrils while the altitude sucks at your your lungs and skin. I forgot how nice it was to look at mountains and to be a little anonymous for a while.

Don’t let outside information fool you – the Best of Bogotá does not include Montserrate, the Museo del Oro or even ajiaco (this time!). What truly makes for an excellent Bogotá trip:

Wearing long sleeves. Friday through Monday held deceitfully pleasant weather in Bogotá but I was still able to enjoy the sensation of fabric comfortably covering my legs AND arms at the same time without drowning in sweat. I wore jeans because they are temperature appropriate, not because everyone else was doing it. At night I even had the luxury of snuggling up in a HOODED SWEATSHIRT. With a kitten. Pure snuggly bliss.

Cancerberos Rugby. The girls on this team are some of the funniest and most genuine people I’ve ever met. I have a lot to thank them for, including introducing me to my current rugby family that is responsible for at least 80% of my general happiness in Barranquilla. Thus, spending a few hours catching up this weekend was much needed and left me remembering how wonderful my friends are around the world.

Usaquén Market. I certainly didn’t need to make any Usaquén purchases but I went anyway and was overjoyed to catch up with some of my favorite vendors there. After a few months of occasional Sunday visits last year many of the artists grew to know my friends and I as the English teachers living in Bogotá and always had a few minutes for friendly chatting. And making change as we regularly supported their livelihoods. This time, all were asking me about my life on the coast, my mom and the amigas back in the states. And making change.

My Spanish is…better? Three separate Colombian acquaintances told me that my Spanish is faster, more clear and generally improved since I last saw them in December or January. As I spend most of my days struggling with the speech here on the coast, this was a nice thing to hear. A new Cancerberos girl even went as far as to ask, “Wait, where are you from?!? I thought you were a foreigner but you talk with a costeño accent…” SUCK IT, MEAN COAST FRIENDS.

The Changing of the Directors. My Coke-slugging, president-sassing Field Director got called to Africa but rather than abandon me with a stranger, I get to work with an equally incredible member of the 2012 volunteer family. Equal parts happy and sad, as the best things in life tend to be.

A Visit to Tabio. My former host family is as lovely as always. The cobblestones are prettier when I am not trying to run on them. I gleefully accosted an embarrassed “tenth” grader. I ate dessert. I was not very disappointed that the 2013 volunteer was heading to school on Monday morning instead of me.

Colombia being Colombia. This is not at all specific to Bogotá, but on my way back from Tabio the bus found itself in a really tight spot between a parked car on one side and oncoming traffic with some construction in the mix. The driver slowly and flawlessly squeaked by the car (with literally two inches to spare) then got a grin and a thumbs up from an old man in a ruana watching from the sidewalk. I may have been the only one who truly appreciated it, or at least the only one who laughed out loud.

Maybe the best part about a weekend in Bogotá?
Coming home to Barranquilla. Being reminded that I’ve created a new phase of life and niche for myself here and in spite of differences, difficulties and distance, I like it.  Funny how that happens.