Tuesday, 12 August 2014

T.I.C. (This Is Colombia)

View from Monserrate, Bogotá
Barely a week has passed since I arrived in this country and it's been a crazy mix of new experiences, words and faces. Having made it on the 11-hour flight from London to Bogotá, I was very glad to be met at the airport by a group of similarly tired English people also waiting to be picked up. We were promptly whisked away to a hotel in the middle of the city, to be greeted with 4-star service, and - more importantly - some beds to crash out on for a couple of hours and regain our strength. When we eventually surfaced, we headed out to see what Colombia's capital city had to offer - and at a height of 3,152m above sea level, Monserrate mountain definitely delivered! From the top, the sprawling mass of the city stretches as far as the eye can see, giving a stunning impression of what it must be like to live in this huge metropolis, and leaving you, quite literally, breathless (altitude is a strange phenomenon).

Over the next couple of days we went about getting to know each other and our new roles as language assistants, trying the various dishes on offer (the juice here is delicious) and gradually overcoming our jet lag - waking up at five in the morning is so not on. Then, it was suddenly time to say goodbye to those who would be staying in Bogotá and make our way to our respective destinations, leaving behind the cool cloud cover of the capital and - for me - heading to somewhere altogether more tropical...

Barranquilla - on the north (Caribbean) coast of Colombia
Barranquilla! Shakira's hometown, as many of you will know, and now to be mine for the next 10 months. I'll be staying here to teach English at a local University with four other British assistants, along with a whole host of other international exchange students, language assistants and local Barranquilleros (try saying that three times fast!) from all over the world. And, as with my experience in Bogotá, things quickly slotted into place as I was invited to join the birthday celebrations of the International Office employees, and enjoy my first experience of Colombian dancing! I have a lot to learn...

The group in Santa Marta

After that (yes, there's more), a group of the international students decided to go to a nearby beach resort for the weekend, so guess where I ended up... well, I had to go, didn't I? Vast sandy beaches, palm trees, clear blue sea - it's enough to make anyone jealous (sorry, guys). And it's here that the phrase was coined that would sum up my time so far in this crazy, beautiful, welcoming country, most of which I haven't even been able to mention here for lack of space. T.I.C. (This Is Colombia) goes for all the mad taxi drivers, ridiculously cheap drinks, unrelenting stares (spot the European, they're pretty rare), beach parties, loud music, beeping horns, sweltering heat, street vendors, party buses (named 'chivas' after female goats), loooong waits (everyone is rather relaxed here), but most of all the unbelievable welcome I've received since I came here just over a week ago, from foreigners and natives alike. This is Colombia, indeed!

1 comment:

  1. Fab round-up and nice pics. Thanks, Natalie!