From the outside looking in, you’d think my life in Barranquilla is all rainbows and butterflies. The real magic is the fact that I’m living and working just like everyone else. This isn’t just a trip. This isn’t a vacation. This is my life. I just chose to live it in a foreign country. Yes, I do have fun. Yes, it is quite the adventure. But I must remind you that every adventure has its moments of negativity, miscommunication, confusion and mishaps. Nonetheless, I’m growing accustomed to life here on the Caribbean coast. It has been a hot, sweaty roller coaster ride, yet Barranquilla continues to feel like home even when I’m experiencing the inevitable ‘downs.’
Even when I can’t possibly understand how my students wear long pants and a long sleeve button down shirt to class every day.
Even when the woman behind me in the supermarket checkout line reaches over, rustles through my groceries, picks up my bag of quinoa and asks me how to cook it.
Even when the bus I usually ride to work never shows up when I need it to, and when it does, sometimes the driver will say “no hay de viaje.” (Aka, try again later, Kerianne – we ain’t taking you to work. Ha!)
Even when the sweltering heat drenches my entire body in sweat within minutes of exiting my somewhat cool, fan-breezed apartment.
Even when the silver lining of the Caribbean coast is cold showers. In actuality, I genuinely look forward to them and I took three of them yesterday.
Even when standing in line for a while is a thing and Colombians accept it as a normality. Patience is more than just a virtue here.
Even when it’s rare to find toilet paper and hand soap in public bathrooms. (BYOTP: Bring Your Own Toilet Paper)
Even when I wake up without electricity because any drop of rain shuts the power off in certain neighborhoods, of which mine is included…of course.
Even when a Cosmetology student interjects my class with a demonstration of her masseuse skills on yours truly, in front of all of my students. Though it was a combination of embarrassment and laughter. Okay, mostly laughter. And maybe some beginnings of hysterical tears.
Even when the week I start wearing pants is the week an actual heat wave swoops into Barranquilla. And it’s apparently setting up camp until July. Oh word?
Even when Colombian cat-callers of all ages call me princesa or tell me that beauty should be a sin as I nonchalantly head to work.
Even when I’m the only one on the bus literally dripping sweat. Seriously, though, how do they not sweat?
Even when a casual conversation with a taxi driver ends in a bold invitation to go on a trip to the beach together.
Even when cold showers aren’t enough to stay cool. So much so that I lay in bed post-shower with the fan directly blowing (hot) air on me.
Even when window seats that give you intermittent access to the breeze aren’t available on the overcrowded colectivo buses.
Even when my favorite ice cream place smack dab in the middle of the park really entices me after our group does yoga and works out.
Even when my doorman graciously warns me that there will be no running water on Saturday – for the entire day.
Even when I try to pay my bills on time, but the cashiers at the grocery stores – plural because I visited a few – simply tell me that I can’t pay my bills here sans any justifiable explanation. But, but… the bill says I can pay it at this store.
Even when my time in Colombia has taught me to cógela suave. Because these ‘downs’ I’ve experienced do not nearly carry as much weight as the endless supply of ups. I’ve got that B’quilla glow (cough, sweat) and that Colombian mentality: I’m just going with it.