Turning 26, enjoying every second of my life. Love it! :)
This past year has been a year full of adventures. Being 25 I traveled to Asia, Middle East and South/Latin America for the first time. I discovered many amazing and exotic countries such as China, Japan, Oman, Jamaica, Cuba, Brazil, and of course Colombia. I wrote another Master thesis and graduated from Uni with top grades. I worked with Microsoft, became a geek and had the best co-workers ever. Seriously, I've never had that much fun at work. I also discovered working in the education field and for a non profit organization. I like it a lot and I've fallen in love with the kids in La Boquilla. I got hit by a car on a casual morning run, was in Paris during the November 13 attacks, and got into a terrifying situation (guns involved) while visiting a favela in Brazil. I learnt that anything can happen and I do my best to enjoy and appreciate life every day. I had 4 very good friends move away from Paris and then eventually I left as well and am still in Colombia. I went on dates with can't remember how many guys but still didn't find my prince charming. Instead I made at least 50 new good friends and learnt a lot about myself and about what I want to do in life. I spent countless wonderful moments with people I love, and I hope I will keep doing exactly the same being 26.
That was the official speech, now comes the funny facts. 3 years ago (wow, time flies by...) I had an other blog and I wrote a list over 23 random things that I had "learnt" being 22 (why 23 and not just 22, can't remember...). You can find the thoughts of a 23 old me here.
I'm doing the same thing now, just because I love making lists. And because it's a nice way to have memories of a particular period of life.
26 things that I learnt this past year:
And then the things that I never learn:
A year ago I celebrated my birthday in China, first in Guilin, then in Hong Kong. Far away from home, but I still had many great friends to celebrate with and I spent some great moments. This year I am in Cartagena, Colombia. Even if the beginning was a bit rocky and I often felt lonely, three months later I am again amazed by how relatively easy it has been for me to make friends and feel at home here.
Before I always said that I was not going to do anything special for my birthday. But that was bullshit, every year I still threw a party, because I love organising all kinds of get togethers. Thus, I'm not anymore pretending to not celebrate. Instead, I'm celebrating many times! By the Caribbean sea, celebration (the part that we had planned with S) meant two things: 1) Beach party and 2) Pool party, both of which were heaps of fun. I'm so glad I've gotten to know all these amazing people that shared my birthday with me, as well as everyone else I've met during my travels. I have a big group of friends and family in Europe (miss you all!) but wherever I go, I am never alone. Happiness is also that my best Colombia-friend's birthday is only four days before mine. Thanks S for celebrating with me this whole week, it's always so much fun with you!
Like if all this wasn't enough, me and S had our own VIP party on Tuesday, eating sushi and ice cream. And yesterday night we went out partying so that, at midnight, I would be finally celebrating on my actual birthday. Now S is on her way via Bogota to Paris and won't be back before the end of June. S, I miss you already and I don't know how I will survive without you for a month! (Not even thinking about how I will survive without you when I move back to Paris and you stay here). Anyway, thanks for the best company. :)
I must say, having a "birthweek" instead of a birthday is quite nice. It feels like the celebration is never-ending and good times just keep getting better. Today, finally the 19th of May. I went to work but I didn't mind at all because I love spending time at Fundación La Vecina. And even if I was at work it still meant being on the beach and under the blue skies so no complaints.
By now it is clear to me that the Colombians make the most of every occasion to celebrate, and I had a hunch that my birthday would be no exception. Still, all this took me by surprise. Kids singing, drawing cards and giving me hugs all day long: priceless. And our secretary, G, had baked the most amazing cake for me. I automatically assumed that she had bought it, so pretty and delicious it was, but no, she made it. And when I stared at her astonished and with admiration she commented, "oh, it's just a cake.". Take a look, this is not just a cake:
I of course took some cute pics with the kids. They all wanted to be photographed with me. :)
This is the pre-scholar group singing happy birthday to me. Awwww.
And these are second graders, adorable as well.
With fourth grade girls we were practicing "Let it go" from Frozen for our English song festival that is in two weeks. But we got a bit carried away...
Tonight our zumba teacher D had his class at a new place: a rooftop at a shopping center next to the San Felipe castle. We went with my friend K and it was so much fun, as always. And I don't know how this thing as well turned into yet another birthday celebration for me! D's music was great, it was fantastic to dance and he had even prepared a special happy birthday number for me. How sweet is that! Besides, dancing outside in the sunset and under the stars was so much nicer than in a hot dance studio. After some killing heat at work (dear air conditioning, why did you break again…?) and kids hugging me so hard that I had trouble breathing, I was very happy about the fresh air. All this combined: what a feeling.
Ps. People in Cartagena: same thing next week Tuesday and Thursday at 6.30PM. And the class is for free!
After the class we had Italian dinner with K and D in Getsemani, and entertained ourselves by singing 90's hits...
Now I think I've celebrated enough, so much actually that I have forgotten to panic or be anxious about my new age: 26. After all, why should I when everything in my life is just about right. At least that's how it feels now because I feel extremely happy and blessed. I said it already but again thank you so much for my friends here in Cartagena who shared these special moments with me. I'm so glad that our paths have crossed, and I feel the same way about all the great people I've met during these five months traveling. Friends and family on the other side of the world, thank you for all the sweet messages. You are in my thoughts, I miss you and I can't wait to see you soon.
Lots of love,
Read the next story here.
I'm Emilia, Finnish-Parisian, a recent Master's graduate. I'm currently traveling around the Caribbean and on a volunteering mission in Colombia. I'm passionate about writing, music and different kinds of sports. I can't wait to discover new places and cultures - and share my adventures with you!