first friends

Starting a new job is scary. Starting a new job in a new city is scarier. Starting a new job in a new city with a (semi-)new language is TERRIFYING. Despite my constant blushing and stuttering, I am beginning to make a few friends in Bogotá. Three of my coworkers—five, if you count the interns—are under thirty and single (read: unmarried), so we inherently have quite a bit in common. Stephanie and Diego speak English quite well—Stephanie, because she lived in Florida as a child and Diego, for yet-to-be-determined reasons. Alexander, one of the interns, is French but speaks near-fluent Spanish and some English. (I am deathly afraid of letting it slip to him that I lived in Paris for five months because then I would have to admit that my French is even worse than my Spanish.) Other than with my boss and those three, I communicate in fragments, minimal sentences, and hand motions. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

Adjusting from an unemployed lifestyle to a fifty-hour work week is… satisfying. As I previously mentioned, I spent the first half of the week working on a virtual model and some renderings for a library project in Bogotá. As for the latter half, I spent my time completing a door schedule for a high-rise residential project in Panama. A door schedule is, as my boss oh-so-sarcastically puts it, “the fun part of architecture.” I am happy to do it, though.

By the end of Friday, I was ready to go out on the town. Our roommate Juan Pablo and his girlfriend Camila invited us to a friend’s apartment for a dinner party with cocktails. The apartment just so happened to be off Calle 85 and Carrera 13 (85th Street and 13th Avenue), right in the middle of a bustling bar district. We enjoyed some homemade pizza and Cerveza Aguila in house before strolling through a park to One Shot, a British-inspired (?) gourmet shot bar. The drinks were expensive by our respective salaries (COP$6000-8000), so we only had one a piece. Lucky for us, they were both strong and delicious. As a bonus, the DJ played a dazzling mix of retro and contemporary tunes, and the bar was set aflame about every five minutes. Our roommate and his friends were extremely patient with us as we stumbled through our Spanish, occasionally giggling at our literal translations. Personally, I think they were too drunk to care. That night, I learned the following (obviously, very generalized) things:

  • Colombians LOVE pizza. Also, Colombians will find an excuse to add corn products to anything, including pizza crust.
  • Unlike the French, Colombians do not dilute their liquor. Their cocktails are serious business.
  • “He has a terrible memory” translates to “Tiene memoria de pollo” (which retranslates to “He has the memory of a chicken.”)
  • Colombians adore the Puerto Rican band Calle 13 or, at the very least, their song “Latinoamérica.” (The song is kind of awesome. If you have a second, you should definitely click on the link and watch the music video.)

This morning, Seth and I awoke feeling well-rested and hungry. Just like we did last Saturday, we went out for a traditional Colombian breakfast before gathering our groceries for the week. We bought some beef, pork, yuca, and plantains in preparation for a pot of Sancocho, as well as a huge bag of oranges (for COP$6000 or US$3!), a few tomates de arbol, a papaya, and a mango. We (read: Seth) spent the entire afternoon stewing the meat and starches while bonding with our roommate Luz. Tonight we were supposed to meet our friend Juancho and his friends from Medellín, but we think he forgot about us. Our feelings aren’t too bruised, though. We have been more than blessed with the kindness of strangers in this city.

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