Friday has always been my favorite day of the week. I like the fact that it’s between the work week and the weekend, you work hard but it always feels easier because it’s Friday and then you get that fantastic feeling when it's time to relax and the weekend is ahead. In my new life in Cartagena I like Fridays even more because I don’t work. I don’t know if two times in a row can be called a routine but at least I am starting to make routines for my Fridays. In the morning I have a surfing class and after that I stay on the beach for a while. Then I go home, prepare a healthy lunch (a salad and a smoothie) and do some cleaning. In the afternoon I write or alternatively skype with someone back in Europe. And well for the evening I don’t have routines yet. Today is writing day and I’m happy because I have found a Startbucks-like place where to write. This is a café chain called Juan Valdez Café, we came here yesterday with my boss N for a meeting with a partner and I decided to come back today. According to N this café has three good points: air conditioning, internet connection, and delicious coffee and pastries (although I commented that delicious pastries is more of a bad point, at least for me). I’m adding to the list cozy atmosphere, nice background music and Chai Tea Latte (!), very much like at a Starbucks Coffee in Paris.
Besides this lucky discovery, there are plenty of other reasons why I’m happy on this Friday:
1. As I posted on Instagram (@miliaxxo): day 17 in Cartagena and I’m finally starting to feel at home here:
Last weekend I was terribly missing Paris. I left three months ago and that’s the longest I’ve ever been gone since I moved to Paris in January 2010. I started to think about everything I’ve lived and experienced there these past six years and I felt very nostalgic. How lost I was at first, and how it now is the city I know the best, and that I love the most. I was listening to Joyce Jonathan and dreaming of the day when I would go back again. Then I talked to my Swedish friend A who is currently living in Stockholm and she was also missing Paris and listening to Joyce Jonathan. That immediately made me feel better, thanks A.
No but seriously, I know that time always flies by and that next fall if I am back in Paris and 1) looking for a job and then eventually working crazy hours every day 2) cursing the grey skies, rain and the fact that I broke or lost yet another umbrella and didn’t bother to buy a new one 3) cursing l’administration française, client service and how everything is so damn complicated, and so on, I will think back to the life I’m living now and I will miss Cartagena. So I decided not to miss Paris and instead focus on enjoying each and every day I spend here. But I guess the beginning is always hard and it takes some getting used to.
Being sad those couple of days, I prepared a survival strategy for the next time a miss home:
So back to Cartagena. Last night after work I was walking around in the center and finally felt that I was breathing again. I like this place and I want to be here. I’m also excited about visiting other places in Colombia and already planning some trips. The time will come to go back to Europe but it is not now.
2. I’m getting very excited about work and about learning Spanish:
Starting a new job is always hectic, so much to learn and so many new people to meet. Everything is still a bit chaotic at Fundación La Vecina (and yes, a proper post is coming soon) but I’m finding my place and starting to fit in. I’m still defining my missions but one will be to manage a digital marketing / social media campaign in order to get new sponsors and raise funds. We had a meeting yesterday with a partner who had some great ideas and I’m happy to get started with that next week. I also have a project to improve internal communication and coordination of the projects inside the association. I’m not revealing anything yet but I have a very good feeling about this mission too.
These first weeks I spent a lot of time familiarizing me with an English-class program that I will coordinate. At Fundación La Vecina they invest a lot in good quality English teaching for all the children, which is not always the case in Colombia. In my opinion the kids have a very bad level in English, but apparently for Colombia it is ok. These first weeks, instead of just coordinating, I have also been teaching because we don't have enough teachers. Even if I used to be a sports coach I don’t really have any experience in teaching. Also, back then I was coaching young teens (12 to 15 years old) and in Finnish, my mother language. Now the children are younger, and I’m giving classes in Spanish because they don’t understand much English. All this is of course hilarious. The first times I was about to loose my mind because the kids wouldn’t behave (of course they were testing me) and because I had no idea of what to say in Spanish. But after some classes, and with some help of other teachers who were supervising, they started to like me, listen more and conduct better. My Spanish is improving fast and I’m actually starting to like the classes. I have now found a potential new teacher who will (maybe, let’s not celebrate yet) take over my classes so I can focus on other things, and I’m almost sad about it. Anyway I’m happy because I have managed to do all this in Spanish, even if it has been difficult. I have also followed and participated in business meetings in Spanish, and already written a bunch of emails. I can feel that I’m learning a lot every day and that is exactly what I came here for so it’s perfect.
I'm afraid videos don't work very well but I'm trying to post one from a class with grado 4. We finished the class watching a song that I found from youtube. The point was to answer to the question "What can you do?" using different action verbs. You see, at least I got almost all the kids to participate!
Also, everyone at work is super friendly with me. And yesterday I got a new colleague, a woman from Bogota, who will also volunteer and with whom I will work a lot. She was lovely and I’m really looking forward to spending more time with her (she already promised to be my guide in Bogota!) so that’s also one reason for my happiness and change of mood.
3. I love the weather and being outside all the time:
About my Friday routines, so I have started surfing classes. It is a lot harder than what I thought and the first time was catastrophic because the waves were huge. Really, I have never seen that big waves except for maybe in Biarritz (oh and that one day in Dubai on the beach near Burj al Arab, do you remember M? ;)). Every time I tried to catch one and get up on the surfboard the wave would smash me and throw me and the surfboard meters away. It was so violent that I was exhausted the rest of the day and could barely breath because my lungs were full of salt water. Today thank god it was calmer and I learned a bit more. I loved it when I was getting frustrated and impatient and my instructor, F (who reminds me a lot of O), told me to take a deep breath and enjoy the moment. That’s when I realized that he was right. While my friends and family back in Europe are working and studying on an ordinary Friday morning, here I am spending time on a beautiful beach by the Caribbean Sea. He also told me to be patient and keep practicing and not to worry because, “tomorrow is a new sunny day and perfect for surfing.” Which is true, not once have I checked the weather forecast here because I know that the sun is always shining. That is so different compared to Europe where you always try to plan your activities according to the weather.
I will take more pictures soon (I must remember to take some of me before the class and not after having been thrown around by the waves) but this is the surf school:
They also do kite-surfing, it looks exciting but I’ve heard it’s very dangerous so I think I’ll pass.
Even in the evening it is always so warm, not once have I brought a jacket with me when going out. Last night I went on a Tinder-date with a Brazilian guy and we took some pictures in the center, like tourists should.
Some photo shooting by the sea in Getsemani:
This one is from earlier but I had to take a picture of the moon, it’s funny because it is the other way around here, like lying down.
I really enjoy walking around in the historical old town and Getsemani quartier. One evening I saw a wedding that I would have loved to crush, it looked amazing (especially the dinner buffet!) Goal: find a husband and get married in Cartagena. :)
So it’s Friday and I’m happy. I’m enjoying my long weekend but looking forward to next week at work.
Have a great weekend everyone!
Ps. This blog is public thus I won’t write about every date I’ve had (besides, nothing very interesting for the moment), but I must comment that this Brazilian from last night was such a funny guy and also very good-looking. If there will be a continuation to this story I’ll share it with you, promise. ;)
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!