Back in Colombia!

I’ve been back in a Colombia for two weeks and have been extremely busy looking for jobs and apartment hunting. Thus far, the job search has been going much better than the apartment hunt. I think I grossly underestimated how much I can expect to pay for a decent apartment in a good location. I have a few more prospects that I am going to check out this weekend, and one actually is well within my price range, but I’m a bit skeptical.

Bogotá from Monserrate

Also, Bogotá is so BIG. I knew this before I moved here; the population is more than 8 million people and it covers 612 square miles, so it can take quite a while to get from place to place, and during rush hour, it’s horrendous. I’m starting to learn the bus system, and I’ve been walking a ton, to and from the bus stops, which is good.

Bogotá has another form of public transportation called the Transmilenio. Transmilenio is a huge bus that has its own special lane in the middle of the street and various stations all over the city. It is faster than the buses, but also much more crowded, especially at rush hour. Sometimes you don’t even need to hold on, there are so many people squeezed in together they hold each other up.

La Candelaria

Bogotá is really interesting in the way it expands. When the city began, it was just what is now La Candelaria, but as it expands, it absorbs other places, growing even bigger. While its enormousness can mean that it takes longer and is more expensive to go long distances, it also means that there are many things to do in Bogotá and many different kinds of people. You can find any type of restaurant, bar, or shop that you want, and Bogotá also has a lot of art and theatre available. In fact, Bogotá has the world’s largest theatre festival, called the Ibero-American Theatre Festival, held every two years.

Something that surprises many people not from Colombia is that Bogotá is cold. Not freezing, but cold; specially for me, after living in hot, humid Barranquilla for a year.  Temperatures are generally in the 60s (Fahrenheit) and at night usually drop to the 50s, and it hardly varies all year long. It doesn’t snow, but in the same day you can have rain, sunshine, clouds, wind—spring, summer, and fall all bundled up into 24 hours. So the key is to always layer. The reason Bogotá is so cold is because of its high altitude of 8,612 feet (2,625 meters). It’s the third highest capital city in the world and is surrounded by gorgeous mountains.

I loved living in Barranquilla, but I’m so happy to be in Bogotá now. It’s the biggest city I’ve ever lived in, which makes it both exciting and challenging. I have started teaching a business English class to executives in Adidas, and it’s a great class, my students are wonderful. I’m looking for more teaching opportunities, possibly private, possibly in a school. Also, I have finally found an apartment that I like, so if everything works out, I should be able to move in about a week from now.

Moving to Bogotá has been such a unique experience for me. I’ve lived abroad and in other cities in the US before, but every time was a completely new experience for me. I knew absolutely nothing about the places where I was going to live, except what I had read, and I didn’t know anyone. With the exception of when I lived in Washington, DC, I had never visited the place before. This time, however, is totally different. I visited Bogotá a dozen times over the last year when I was living in Barranquilla, I know people here, I know places to go and things to do. There is lot to learn, of course, but I’ve never known a place so well before living in it. I feel so comfortable here, and the more my Spanish improves, the more I feel like I really belong. Speaking of which, I should probably go practice some Spanish right now…

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