My sojourn in Colombia, thus far, has been nothing short of exciting. It´s the four-month anniversary of my repatriation, celebrated by teaching English and over drinks in small bars, yet I’m still often asked, with some degree of shock, why I ever decided to come back. Sometimes I ask myself the same question, not because of regrets, but because my borderline obsessive-like love for this country might be of concern to outsiders.
Last Spring, as I made my way back to Indiana after a period spent at high seas and having taken the difficult decision to forego a MPP at the University of Chicago, an idea to return to Colombia began to brew. Having left Colombia at such a young age certainly provided ground for my passion and curiosity to grow the longer I lived away, a flame fired by short visits. During the summer, I worked and lost myself in articles about what people were doing here. Reading expat blogs that shared the excitement of the city, I craved the experience as well. So as my contract with a furry feline (Garfield) came to an end, I packed up my bags and headed south in the search of my Colombian dream.
Four months after stepping off in the El Dorado Airport, where people are greeted as if they had risen from the dead (watch Mi gente linda, mi gente bella), I haven’t exactly found my dream job, but managed instead to collect curious experiences, stories, and inevitable lessons. Advice received during a Central American study program, of “expecting the unexpected” resonated at the beginning of this ‘trip’ and is still applied along with a healthy dosage of learned patience.
If ever I wanted to take on odd jobs, Colombia has served as the perfect stage. From being an extra on TV, thanks in part to the thriving telenovela culture, to a temporary financial assistant, and finally an English teacher. I’ve also had the opportunity to report things about Colombia, thanks to Colombia Politics, and which after some time away, I’d like to continue. The entire professional experience has been cushioned with entertaining interviews where I’ve accidentally embraced strangers, thinking they were my interviewer (common, right?), heard very personal anecdotes from my interviewers, and been asked things that are very forbidden in the states.
My perception of family grows as I meet more and more cousins and my soul slowly fills to content with danced latin beats. I’ve been mesmerized by the street art , enchanted with its street artists, and been thankful for the beautiful people that make up this city. Equally, the country’s situation frustrates me, giving me days where I’m angry at the vast inequality and the sometimes corrupt systems. It’s almost like being in a relationship with a real person. So much so, that I found myself telling a date the other night that my first love was Colombia. Odd, perhaps.
And in spite of all of the emotions that Colombia pulls from me, I don’t know how much longer I’ll stay here, I missed my flight a few days ago. I don’t know if this is permanent or if I’ll be back. As far as the question regarding my return, I really don’t know if there is a single answer or a mixture of gut feelings, destiny, and curiosity. After all, they do say that the risk is wanting to stay.