El riesgo and all that

When making Major Life Decisions (and actually any Life Decision) I’m a big fan of lists. Pro-Con, subcategories, arranged alphabetically or chronologically – doesn’t matter. Lists are essential to the Life Decision. Therefore, since I’ve recently been “trying to decide” if I’m staying in Colombia another year (because “I’m not sure if I am going to stay” and all), I’m working a list. The boring, career-related parts remain scribbled in crayon on the back of someone’s Site Visit lesson plan because we know what’s really important here.

Reasons to Stay in Colombia:

World Cup Fútbol.

Oh, you get excited about the Superbowl? The World Series perhaps? That’s cool. Everyone else on the globe knows that Summer 2014 means one thing and one thing only: The World Cup. If you think soccer is boring, you’ve never been emotionally invested in a match and surrounded by about a million people who are even more invested. Everyone is wearing yellow and talking to (shouting at) the players on screen like their own sons and nephews. You think I would really want to experience this any farther away from Brazil? This is as close as I could get to the real thing and Falcao’s hair is guiding our dear Selección to greatness like a shaggy Seeing Eye dog.  I can also get all patriotic and cheer for the U.S. because it’s so cute of them to show up and try their best.

Image from El Espectador

Image from El Espectador

Presidential Election.

I’m a total nerd for Latin American politics and Colombia’s rapid changes and growth are absolutely fascinating. My old pal Juan Manuel Santos is going for reelection in March and many, many people are unhappy with him at present, so I kind of can’t wait to see what happens.


I have invested so much time, energy, faith, sweat, thought, bug spray and loads of laundry into my team. I’ve seen so much positive change throughout the year and I know we’re heading for bigger things. I can’t leave them yet. They need me and I need them.

All of the places.

Technically speaking, I’ve done a lot of traveling around Colombia since January of last year: Bogotá, Boyacá, Santander, Casanare, Medellín and Guatape, Salento, Cartagena, Santa Marta, Barranquilla, San Andrés, Ecuador and countless little towns or trips in between. I’ve traveled a lot more than many Colombians that I’ve met – but it’s not even close to enough. First of all, there’s the fact that I LOVED every single one of those places (except Medellín but it deserves another shot) and I am dying to go back. I may have been to Villa de Leyva at least five times, Salento twice with plans for two more trips and Cartagena is basically my backyard at this point, but I can’t bear to think that I won’t see those places again. Then there are all of the OTHER places: La Guajira, Bucaramanga, Mompox, Cali, the Amazon, Popayan and that crazy beautiful church-bridge built into a hill, the Pacific Coast, Caño Cristales, Valledupar…too many places. I can’t leave yet! I have to go to the places!


Natalie is staying. You think I’m about to leave her in Colombia unsupervised? Nope. We have many more meals, cervezas and bus rides ahead of us for scheming and talking about how we’re not leaving yet.

Viviendo y gozando

Viviendo y gozando

I’m too far gone.

At this point, re-assimilation to living in the U.S. is going to be so painful, difficult and confusing that I might as well keep putting it off. All of this is only amplified six months later and the signs are multiplying. My text- and online-smiley face usage is out of control. All the English that comes out of my mouth is muddled with Spanish words and sentence structure. When amongst a group of gringos I feel like I’m not getting hugged and kissed enough. I put ketchup on my rice today, you guys.  Voluntarily, in the privacy of my own home. There’s no turning back now.