Now that I’m finally back and settled in Shanghai, with the second semester in full swing, it’s time to acknowledge that it is now 2015. It always takes me awhile to make the switch; in fact, my students corrected me today when I wrote the date on the board.
2014 was a busy year for me. I finished up my contract in Bogota, Colombia, attended my sister’s wedding in the States, started a new teaching contract in Shanghai, and added a new continent to my travel list. It was a good one. Here are the highlights:
On January 1st, I rang in the New Year on Copacabana Beach in Rio. It was a crazy celebration, full of live music, fireworks, dancing, wave hopping (a good-luck tradition), and kissing. Yes, Mom, I said kissing. Sorry, but those Brazilians are a friendly bunch (and cute!).
I have to admit: my relationship with Bogota has not been love at first sight. It’s taken work, patience, and understanding. And as I’m sure most of my ex-boyfriends will tell you, I haven’t always been the most patient, or understanding, girlfriend.
Before moving to Colombia, I spent a lot of time daydreaming. I pictured myself in the kitchen, learning how to make traditional delicacies with someone’s grandmother. I saw myself dancing salsa in local clubs, like I had been doing it my whole life. I imagined the coffee shops I’d frequent, and the buzzing effects of their strong Colombian drip.
For me, traveling and food go together like peanut butter and honey. It just makes sense. In one bite, we can discover a culture. We bond with its people.
My family shares the same sentiment. So when they came to visit a couple of weeks ago, I took them to my favorite place for a Saturday morning in Bogota: La Plaza de Mercado de Paloquemao. Although not present in many of the guide books, nor listed as a top thing to do online, this bustling, chaotic flower and food market was the first thing to make me fall in love with the city.
I arrived to Buenos Aires late at night December 30th. The air was thick and my backpack weighed heavy on my shoulders as I waited for a cab.
On the way to my apartment, illuminated European-like buildings and monuments decorated my view. Teenagers dressed in skinny jeans paraded through the streets. An old couple shared a pizza at an outdoor café. At a stoplight, I nervously smiled as my eyes met those of a handsome man in the taxi next to me. He was singing “Isn’t She Lovely.”