4 weeks. 1 job. 2 cities. And I’m told understandable Spanish.
Mix it up for a happy month and a dizzy mind. After a month in Colombia, from the Caribbean to the capital, I’m confused, or maybe just overwhelmed. Walking the streets is like being shaken inside a kaleidoscope, causing me to stop at corners and look 6 ways. Maybe it’s all the coffee – more likely it’s all the sights and sounds. On top of that, like Goldilocks, I’m in search of the right spot to settle into for the next few months. All I know, is looking for work adds an interesting dimension to traveling – I’m asking myself how it would feel to be ‘here’ for any period of time – and questioning what I want most of this ‘adventure’.
Back in Bogotá for a few days before I head to Medellin, the expected verdict is written in cobblestone: this city is too big, buzzy, crowded, and smoggy for me. While big cities are in my blood, at this elevation my blood is thinner and the appeal of a big city isn’t flowing as smoothly. Though my perspective has softened: I view the hustle and grunge around me through 1980’s NYC eyes. This will be a powerful place in years to come IF they can switch from diesel. That’s the deal breaker for me. There’s already so much in the works for turning this into a model city including building a pedestrian mall along the main street.
The city is filled with historic grandeur and architecture spanning several centuries. Anything you desire is likely to be sold on the streets or within a block or two of where you are. People linger over coffee at Juan Valdez, Colombia’s Starbucks where businessmen and students mingle in the warm afternoon sun. Although life moves faster here than in Cartagena, I see more people stroll than race down the street. I’ve wandered into almost every museum, grasping for history and culture of this diverse and rich country, and learning mostly about my limited communication skills: I’m the mono-lingual ‘ugly (north) American. My sympathies are renewed for all non-English speakers who venture into the U.S. and walk around seeing without being able to understand everything around them. I eagerly returned to the Museum of Heroes today for a promised 3:00 tour in English that wasn’t. My hope and expectation is to understand by December….
It’s all about the language: that’s why I’m here, right? Why should people speak English? Any more than most of us in the U.S. speak Spanish. Yet, as this city and country turn to the future, it’s with a bi-lingual voice. Unbelievable to think about right now that by 2018 English will be found on restaurant signs and spoken at airports or hotels.
There is one unifying action that ties the world together: being glued to our phones while walking, sitting at a cafe, or just for taking pictures. And I’m embarrassed to say, awaiting replies, I’m slowly wearing away my right thumbprint swiping open my email. Language be damned – we are all connected!