Let’s Talk About the Weather

The weather in Bogotá is as unpredictable as my 14-year-old students. One minute everything’s great, and the next, it seems the world is coming to an end.

Unfortunately, in both situations, things are usually a bit gloomy. So it’s critical to always be prepared: lots of layers, an umbrella, and most importantly, a positive attitude.

When I woke up this morning, rays of sunshine peaked through the window. My usual nighttime uniform of flannel pajamas and thermal socks felt unnecessary. (Side note: apartments here don’t come with heat or air conditioning. The average temperature of 55 degrees doesn’t require either.)

Knowing I only had an hour or two to enjoy the balmy weather, I quickly changed into running clothes and headed for a park about a 20-minute walk from my apartment.

I tilted my head towards the sun and soaked up the vitamin D. I smiled at the man on my block selling avocados. I greeted the women on the streets frying eggs and arepas (corn griddle cakes usually filled with cheese). The flowers being sold at stands throughout the city somehow masked the odor of car exhaust. I stopped and breathed in their sweet scent.

When I got to Parque El Virrey, I stopped into Juan Valdez, Colombia’s answer to Starbucks. The next hour was spent watching parents treat their kids to balloons, dogs playing fetch, and women, with full hair and makeup, rollerblading. I sipped my cappuccino and took in my surroundings.

When asked how I like Bogotá, sometimes it’s hard to answer. The language barrier has been difficult. The city is polluted and crowded with buses and taxis. The gap between rich and poor in painfully apparent. But on a day like today, when the sun in shining and I have nothing to do but drink coffee, it’s nice.

As I walked back to my apartment, the sky darkened. The wind picked up and it started drizzling. My teeth chattered and I reached in my purse for a rain jacket.

My pace quickened, but several blocks later I found myself at a traffic light, next to a woman selling fragrant tiger lilies. She held out a bouquet for me to smell and smiled. She was missing most of her teeth.

I bought the flowers and continued walking. The woman yelled after me in a strained, hoarse voice, and told me to have a wonderful day. I stopped and waved to her, telling her to do the same.

Her hair was already soaked and so were her clothes. But she was still wearing that beautiful, toothless smile.

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