A year ago today, I stepped on the farthest land I’ve ever been to. Hell, one that I never imagined I’ll get to. You see, as a kid I learned Spanish watching soap operas (yes, novelas) and yes I’d watch Betty la fea and Café con aroma de mujer, both of them Colombian productions, but little did I know that 12 years later I’ll actually say out loud ‘Hola, me llamo Ioana y aprendí español mirando novelas’ to a Colombian…in Colombia.
Fast forward an interview and 19 hours of flight later, I was here. Mixed feelings, hot, too hot weather, an almost full Moleskine Travel Journal, you name it, I was experiencing it. And I still do, but because starting today another travelling year lies ahead, I shall write down the most important 12 ways that Colombia changed me. So here we go:
1. It made me fiercely independent. You don’t get to ask me to text you when I get home safe, you don’t carry my suitcase, you let me pay that freaking check when I tell you to.
2. When I fail, I fail miserably. I also get my shit together just in time for the next one. Last minute, usually.
3. I can be taken seriously even if I’m little over 5 feet. Colombia makes it easier though, I can say I easily blend in since the majority of the girls around here are pretty short.
4. I naturally challenge myself. Read complicate-things-more-than-necessary. Isn’t it part of the fun?
5. I’m aligning with my inner self. Yep, that’s a thing. Yoga, meditation, running, wine. That’s my mix.
6. If I plan, I get screwed. I suspect Murphy on this one, but have no proof yet. So I let things flow now. I take them as they come, like some sort of a sign from the Universe pushes me to the opposite direction ’cause it knows better than me. Oh, well, take me to Costa Rica then. Pura vida did you say?
7. I won’t know Spanish until I learn all the accents and language differences in every area of Colombia. So backpacking shall become my thing.
8. I stopped taking anything for granted. I appreciate every little thing I’ve been blessed with. The roof over my head, the sound of the ocean, every new person I meet.
9. Being here made me feel damn proud for deciding to take this challenge to see with my own eyes and judge by my own experience what’s happening in this country. I’m actually living the peace process in Colombia right now and it gets as chilling as you can imagine.
10. It’s ok if I stay in on Saturday nights every once in a while. It doesn’t make me old, maybe just…lucky to have a hammock in my balcony so I can loosen up without the strong shots and the noise.
11. I’ve been officially proven that I’m a neat freak. You take something from its place, you put it back when you finish. If not, I will. End of story.
12. When everything else fails, I dance. Artlessly, without any grace or skill but always with enjoyment. Lucky me I live in a country of Very. Good. Dancers. so they get me back on the rhythm pretty quickly and then the public embarrassment comes to an end.
I don’t have a clue. What I do know is that I’m home*. And it’s warm and cozy.
*home= anything but a place