Some of you have asked me what my daily life is like here in Colombia. So, I’ve decided to do a post about it.
During the week (Monday-Friday), I am normally at la Universidad del Norte from ~9am-6pm. I normally start morning with a decent breakfast–arepas with hogao (Colombian “corn cakes” w/ a tomato and onion sauce), peanut butter french toast, etc… After breakfast I head out to catch one of these:
(image taken from: sobusa.over-blog.es)
(image taken from: contrastes.com.co)
The first one, the Sobusa, is pretty much an old school bus, repainted, revamped, and remodeled to be a public transport bus. Sobusa is one of the largest transportation companies in Barranquilla. This is part of the public transportation system that is owned and operated by private companies, like Sobusa. These buses do not have “bus stops,” but rather pick you up or let you off wherever you fancy. These type buses cost around 75 cents and have no AC.
The second one is Transmetro. This is the public transportation system operated by the city of Barranquilla. These buses are nicer, newer, and come with AC 🙂 To use these buses, you must have a Transmetro card (similar to the Oyster Card used in London), with prepaid credit on it. Transmetro will spot you one ride (1,600 pesos), but you must recharge your card before further use. The only drawback with Transmetro is that the route that takes me to the university only passes by my apartment between 6:30am-8:30am and 5:30pm-7:30pm. Therefore, unless I am heading to work early, it’s easier and faster to catch the Sobusa. Transmetro is also a bit more expensive–~80 cents.
Either one of these will take me all the way to the university; however, we use them to get basically anywhere, since we don’t have a car 😉
Once at the university, my day goes by pretty quickly between teaching class, meetings, lesson planning, cultural agendas, etc… After work, I generally come home to decompress–checking Facebook, Pinterest, the occasional Skype date, and making phone calls to my family. Now that Ele and I have joined this gym (BodyTech),
(image taken from: bodytech.com.co)
I am sure my evenings will be filled with a gym routine. It’s within walking distance of our apartment, and in a super convenient shopping mall. When I have the occasional desire to go out after work, we either hit up a street stall (some of my favorite Colombian foods are from street vendors), find a good pizza joint (there are some really good pizza places around; and, FYI, Colombian pizza is quite different from pizza in the States–more toppings choices, less tomato sauce, and different bread bases), or go see a movie/do some window shopping at the Buena Vista Shopping Mall:
(image taken from: es.wikipedia.org)
(image taken from: skyscrapercity.com)
Buena Vista is the biggest shopping mall I’ve been to in Barranquilla–I am not sure there’s one that’s bigger. It’s almost comparable to the Galleria in Birmingham (Alabama). It’s got a movie theatre (Cine Colombia), 3 food courts (the shopping mall is two buildings connected by a catwalk, as you can see above), 2 grocery stores (Carrefour & Exito), and lots of Colombian and international chain stores (Zara, Swatch, Gef: comparable to GAP, Panamericana: a bookstore/stationary store, Juan Valdez: Colombian Starbucks, much better than Starbucks, etc…).
On the weekends, we sometimes go the beach close to Barranquilla called Climandiaro, where we pay 5,000 pesos ($2.50) to use the hotel’s beach facilities:
If we don’t head to the beach, we sometimes go to the city center to walk around. The cathedral in the city center’s plaza is gorgeous, there is amazing street food, and you can always find a good deal on something you probably didn’t need 😉 I love looking at all of the things for sell. You can truly find anything and everything you could ever think of in the city center.
Sometimes we decide to take walks (I love taking walks around town)–random walks sometimes, and sometimes planned walks to a certain place. You always discover something new on a walk, and it’s always nice to take advantage of a pretty day.
Other times, I may go in to work for a few hours to catch up on grading or lesson planning, or we may stay at home and relax (which is often times MUCH needed). We watch movies, cook together, read on the Kindle, or hang out on our balcony, taking advantage of the hammock.
Overall, I’d say my life in Barranquilla is pretty tranquil and relaxed. My work may be stressful sometimes, but my overall daily life is not. Colombian people generally say life on the coast is very relaxed and carefree compared to most places, and I agree.
I truly enjoy living in Barranquilla and have found it to be a very comfortable, inviting, and warm (both temperature and “emotionally”) place to live. I love being so close to the beach, feeling like it’s always summer, and being surrounded by Spanish. Although being far away from family and friends is sometimes difficult, I am happy with my choice to live and work here 🙂