Did three months pass just like that?! Yes, they did and I'm back in Bogotá. It is still as cloudy as I remember. I arrived without a hitch and all in my apartment has proven to have stayed put. Amazing in this land of ladrones. But I'm grateful. . .always grateful to win the battle with thieves the world over.
In the few hours I have been back I am reminded of all the little charming things that made me choose to stay in this city in the first place. The cute old ladies selling empanadas and tinto on the street, Janet at the bakery, my neighbors(all of whom have been delighted to see me again), the market, my few friends, the mountains, the broken sidewalks, the narrow streets of the old colonial neighborhood in which I live, the list could go on. I am surrounded by all of the things that are easily forgotten when one is away for so long. The noises of the streets resounding in the barrio; the street dogs, always street dogs, children everywhere, 18-year-old police everywhere(can also qualify as children), the roller skate sized taxis on every street and corner, the fruit vendors. Bogotá is special. And how could I have forgotten how cute the Colombianos are?! Seriously now, hot brown Colombians everywhere!
And I am also feeling that my heart is right in telling me that my days here are coming to an end. As smitten as I am yet again by Bogotá, I no longer see this place through the same innocent eyes as I did in my first weeks and months here. I have had enough bad experiences with street crime and with the dysfunctional Colombian society and culture as a whole. Getting older and living life sometimes sucks because it can show some really ugly things in really amazing places. Colombia has a long way to go and will likely never totally escape its violent ways. I have also had enough experiences with the Colombian people to know that I do not want to struggle on a daily basis to feel even the slightest bit accepted or understood by them. Their lack of exposure to foreigners has left the Colombian people unable to function in a healthy manner regarding tourists. The staring, the being a target for harassment or crime, the people who ask to take pictures with you or just take them anyway, the general lack of respect that Colombians have for each other and all people in general. Another stressful factor for this laid back Westerner is the obsessive madness(some call it Latino passion)with which they deal with every single daily situation. Colombians deal with all things with some degree of drama, usually totally unnecessary drama. All of this leads to a degree of dysfunction that I am chosing to no longer live with.
It's sad to me because I am very charmed by Bogotá. It's inexplicable, there is just a magic to this place through all the grime. But I have been there, done that, and I even have the Homero Valdez t-shirt to prove it.
Will I travel in Latin America again? There is no doubt in my mind that I will come back to Latin America. I will even very likely be back to Colombia and to Bogotá at some point. Traveling in a place and living in a place are worlds apart. A huge plus for me as well is my ability to speak the language, and the fact that at least I won't be confused when the Colombianos act crazy.