In about five weeks, I’ll venture back to China for what will be my sixth year abroad, and my fourth country to call home. I never planned to be gone this long, but now I have no plans of returning. It’s funny how things work out.
I like my home in Shanghai, and don’t often feel homesick; but from time to time, I’ll find myself missing the States. Or Korea. Or Colombia. Home has become something of a relative concept, so it’s hard to actually be “home-sick.”
Lately though, I have been thinking a lot about my two years in Bogota, and the wonderful memories associated with Colombia. So I made a list. Here are the top 10 things I miss most about this former “home” of mine:
1. The Scenery
Colombia might possibly be the most beautiful country I’ve visited. From the Andean mountains, to the Tatacoa desert, to the Caribbean and Pacific beaches, to the Amazon jungle, I miss it all. And man is it beautiful.
2. The Fruit Juices
Sure, you can get fresh squeezed juice pretty much anywhere in the world, but I guarantee it’s nothing like what you can get in Colombia. And if it is, you’re paying about 5x more for it. Whether it’s fruits you’ve heard of, like mango, passion fruit, or papaya, or more exotic choices like lulo, guanábana, or feijoa, you’re in for a treat.
I’m not gonna lie, when I first moved to Colombia, I wasn’t so impressed by these highly-praised corn cakes. But something happened over those two years and I became addicted. Topped with eggs, ham and cheese, stuffed with doble crema, or stuffed with an egg, then deep-fried, these things are legit.
Don’t know what tejo is? Well, it’s the country’s national sport, and it pretty much consists of throwing stones at dynamite disks, while drinking large amounts of beer. It doesn’t get much better than that.
For my Spanish-speaking audience, I’m not talking about my love of bridges. I’m referring to the many long weekends created by moving national holidays to Mondays, in order to create numerous 3-day weekends throughout the year. This allowed me to explore the country and visit many of my friends’ nearby fincas (country houses).
6. Salsa Dancing
Whether it’s in the salsa capital of Cali, at a local restaurant, or even at a karaoke bar, Colombians are pretty much always down to dance. And while it’s possible to go to a salsa bar in Shanghai, there’s something about those Colombian men and their hips. Let’s just say it’s not the same.
I was actually living in Bogotá during the World Cup games, and I feel very fortunate to have had that experience. Whether I was watching the games in cigarrerías, viewing a big screen at one of the parks, or celebrating in the streets with shaving cream and confetti, I was really able to understand the passion and developed a whole new appreciation for the sport.
8. Menú del día ( Or “ejecutivo”)
Image courtesy of Salsamentaria.
Ok, another food item to talk about. And it’s a good one: the famous “menú del día,” or “menu of the day.” Colombians typically eat their largest meal at lunch time, so this offering is served between the hours of 11-ish to 3-ish. It’s available at pretty much every restaurant, and includes fruit juice, soup, a little salad, a choice of protein (chicken, beef or fish), rice, and often times a dessert. Oh, and it’s usually around $5.
9. The People
Image courtesy of my friend and travel partner, Zak Mann, from our time in Cartagena.
After reading the reasons above, it should be no surprise that the people are what truly make this country special. From my Costeña roommate who reminded me of Sofia Vagara, to my soccer-obsessed coworkers, and the old ladies who made caldo around the corner of my apartment, I miss them all. And look forward to the day when I can see them again.
10. Speaking Spanish
This may come as a shock for anyone who knew me during my time in Colombia, and especially to my fellow classmates in my Spanish class. But, the truth is, I miss the language. I miss hearing it. I miss speaking it. I even miss making a fool of myself on a daily basis. And for those of you who have studied Spanish and traveled in a variety of Spanish-speaking countries, you will truly appreciate the video below.
Tell me: Have you been to Colombia? What’s one thing you miss?