Monday, 1 September 2014

When it rains, it pours.

I've been waiting for a good moment to introduce this little graph to you all. It's a diagram that the British Council (my UK link to Colombia) gave to us at our training in Bogotá, that tracks the ups and downs of living abroad. I think it's pretty accurate (although the middle bit should definitely be higher) so I thought I'd share it with you lot, so you can have some idea of the roller-coaster ride that is life on the road!

British Council year abroad graph - click image to enlarge
It does serve a second purpose, however. At this point in time, I and my friends have been in Colombia for almost an entire month, and it seems that this is the amount of time it takes to go from number one (new and exciting) to number two (frustrating and difficult). This week everyone cracked! Now, this is not to say that things have turned to ruin, but rather that reality (and paperwork) has hit, and we no longer feel like we're on holiday - we're in it for the long haul. Like my colleague Pacho, who works at the University International Office, said (in reference to photocopiers): we are no longer guests in this place, we are now fully functioning members of the faculty (meaning: we have to do our own copying). And the photocopier rule applies to Colombia too - we are no longer tourists, rather part of the work force here in Barranquilla - I even have a Colombian I.D. card. Although that doesn't stop students asking me to pose for photos due to my whiteness. And blondeness. And tallness - ah well!

Unfortunately, I don't have any of said photos - but here's a view of my new hometown to keep you going
The title also has a dual purpose, in fact - firstly, for those days when nothing seems to be going right, and where trying to open a bank account takes several trips, a cancelled appointment and over an hour at the desk, waiting for the system to stop crashing. Secondly, this week saw more crazy rainfall as the heavens opened and filled the streets with streams strong enough to move cars from where they were originally parked. Thankfully, in the area where I live things are not so bad - the roads are well-equipped with drainage systems big enough to take on the sudden deluge. But this is not true for all the parts of the city. As some in the poorer South lost their homes, or one his life, I remember my privilege - not everyone gets to choose to go galavanting around the world in the name of experience. Perhaps doing my own photocopying is not so bad after all...

A taxi being carried away by the street flooding in Barranquilla
To see the effects of the recent floods for yourself, visit:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RzJ0ApbianI

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