Monday, February 20, 2017

So I live in China now

Shanghai Night City Wallpaper

Who saw this coming? Not I. Not I. At the turn of the New Year, I had the next two and a half years laid out in front of me. Go to Colombia, find a job till the summer then start working at an international school in the fall for a two year contract. Set it and forget it. I should have known I didn’t have life figured out. The biggest surprise from all of this and an option I frankly never considered was not enjoying Colombia/South America. Granted I only visited Colombia for just over three weeks but the time spent there left me anticipating my return flight home and essentially no desire to find a country I found more suitable. Maybe I would have fallen in love with Peru or Chile but I may rely more on my gut instinct than I should and my gut and heart was telling me I didn’t belong there and that I’d be happier at home.

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Colombia isn’t a terrible or incredibly dangerous place but it’s not the best and safe wouldn’t be the first would I would use to describe it. I never got robbed or go into a situation that made me fearful but a few friends got robbed and I also felt like I needed to look over my shoulder or be careful not to bring my wallet out or worried they would steal my not so modern phone that they would ultimately regret taking from me. It is more than possible that I could have moved there for two plus years and nothing negative would have happened to me but it wasn’t a chance I was interested in discovering the outcome to. On the positive side, Minca is worth visiting and was once filled with guerilla fighters who now drive you up the mountain on their motorcycles. I stayed on a coffee plantation and did a coffee tour, went on a little hike and ate delicious food. The mud “volcano” was the other highlight and fully recommended.

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Other small details that I didn’t love was feeling that Medellin was possibly more overrated than New Zealand. Almost. I don’t get it. Yes it has good public transportation and cable cars. Yes they have a rich area for foreigners and has an eternal spring climate but I didn’t find the nightlife as outrageous as advertised and the food didn’t blow me away. Overall, I’d give Colombia a B for effort and while it’s trendy to fall in love with Colombia, it just didn’t speak to me. If you have an inkling that it is for you, I definitely think you should make it happen but I’d also leave some room for exploring a few other neighbouring countries whilst you’re there.

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Other general thoughts on Colombia before this turns into a blog about all things Chinese is that I obviously knew that they spoke Spanish but I was under the impression some Colombians could speak English. They cannot. When a few of us were taking a mini-van/small bus to Guatape, (also worth visiting) I noticed they sell more tickets than they have seats so you have literally women and children sitting down in the aisle; it’s madness. Also on said buses, men will come on with dozens of treats and try selling them to you. Not overly delicious. You want drugs? Don’t worry, a thousand people will try to sell them to you….constantly. They have green fire hydrants! I brought my massive orange pack, my day bag and a fairly big gym bag with me to Colombia which was wayyyyy too much stuff. For China, I only brought my day bag and gym bag and carried both bags on. I’m on a minimalist mission and you’ll be hearing all about that later. Hint: less is more people! (Luckily being poor and without a home has naturally led me towards the path of minimalism)

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I will leave it at that and make a more complete Bert moves to Shanghai post later on in the week but I’m still alive and think things are going to be OK. Stay tuned.

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“The best way to meet someone is to have something better to do than meeting someone.”