These past 5 months back in Paris have gone in a blur. After two relaxing weeks of holidays, wandering around in sunny Paris and reuniting with my friends and family, I started a new job and was forced to readapt to a 9 to 5-schedule and to a life full of responsibilities. Those careless days traveling around the Caribbean coast of Colombia were soon far behind. In many ways life in Paris is great. For starters, I am lucky to have a job that I like and an apartment that I love (none of these is a given here), and amazing friends to spend time with. I appreciate the everyday luxury of hot showers, real supermarkets, cleanliness and absence of mosquitos, as well as the possibility to walk around in (almost) any neighborhood without worries.
We don’t have a sea or beaches here but les quais de Seine are always as beautiful to stroll on. Yet to speak of the endless narrow cobble stone streets, parks and beautiful buildings, small cute boutiques one after another. The old city of Cartagena is a lot like a miniature Paris, and maybe that is why I liked it so much there. Moreover, being back I’ve noticed how much I enjoy the Parisian lifestyle and being a bon vivant. Going out, not only on weekends but on any day of the week, discovering the overwhelming choice of restaurants, bars and (roof top) terraces. Drinking wine and eating terrible amounts of bread and cheese. In the beginning I just let myself be free. I had missed it so much and I told myself that it was ok to enjoy the end of the summer and to go out almost every evening. Now I’m trying to control myself at bit more but sometimes I just don't care, I hear somebody even said that a glass of wine per day is good for health. This is the part of Paris that I love. There are so many different neighborhoods, so many different things to do, so many lovely places to see. In no amount of time could I ever get bored of Paris. I know this is the city where I am supposed to live.
When I paused blogging I also rediscovered how enjoyable it is to just live my life without having to photograph every second of it. But it had become such a routine during my travels that of course I have a couple of pretty pictures from my Parisian summer/autumn, to share with you.
Strolling around as a tourist in sunny and warm Paris in July/August:
I spent some lovely evenings at my favorite rooftops: Perchoirs 1, 2 and 3.
Here with my beautiful mum E at Perchoir Marais/Hotel de Ville:
Funny faces with I and a happy reunion with my dearest J at Perchoir 11ème:
Unexpected friendship, priceless moments and discovering the new Perchoir Gare de l'Est with M:
Endless wine and cheese catch ups, brunches, apéros and dinners with friends. So Parisian:
Eventually the autumn came but at first it was mild and sunny. With my friends T and N we made a habit of going for a long promenade every Sunday, often in my new neighborhood in the 15th arrondissement.
When I missed Colombia I comforted myself with guacamole and passionfruit juice:
But then it all changed. Summer was over, and so was the first months’ excitement of being back. The days got shorter and darker, work harder and me more and more tired and stressed. I tried to focus on what I learnt during my travels: how to be careless and relaxed, to appreciate and be content with what I have, not to complain about stupid things. Some days it works well, I manage to put things into perspective and stay cool even when I’m stressed, or when everything French is driving me crazy. Positive attitude always helps, when you think of it, difficulties are part of life and often (always) things could be a lot worse. Still, lately I’m starting to slip back to my old hectic lifestyle, and I wonder if it is Paris that is doing this to me. I am supposed to be living a dream but instead I’m often anxious and not sure of what I am supposed to do with my life. Maybe it’s just a normal winter depression but for the first time ever I’m starting to doubt it: Could I be happier somewhere else?
It is funny how memories from some places are so strong. Even if I only spent some 5 months in Cartagena, it feels like another home. When I close my eyes I can so easily travel back there. I remember everything so clearly; it feels like in a way I never left. I can see myself walking on the streets of the walled city and Getsemani, swimming and tanning at S’ swimming pool in Bocagrande, watching the sunset on the beach in Marbella, sweating in the crowded bus coming home from La Boquilla, and observing the cheerful chaos amongst the children at Fundacion La Vecina. I miss it, all of it (even the cute little bus, a puseta), and only now I realize how much I loved my life in Colombia. There are things that annoyed me there too, of course, and I know that I could not only travel or volunteer during my whole life. If I moved back to Cartagena I would have to work as I work here, and life would probably be even harder.
But still. We talked about this with K recently and I think she put it very well in words: we liked the kind of persons we were in Colombia. I must admit that I adored my life. I had an interesting and rewarding job, but that did not wear me out. I had time for personal projects, like this blog. I did sports almost every day, ate well and felt healthy. The endless summer gave me energy, I woke up early and went often out with friends in the evening. I had time to travel, discover new places and meet new people. I was smiling all the time, I was enjoying my life. And I just can’t help thinking: if sea, sun, Latino rhythms and being surrounded by happy and friendly people is what I like, what am I doing here?
Paris is nice but now when it is dark, raining and +5 degrees, I like to daydream and go back to when I was living in a place that looked like this:
My colleagues and clients are nice too but nothing compared to when work also meant spending time with these little loved ones:
Having my dear Cartagena friends visit me, first S and then K, was a welcome sunny breeze to my somber life. Even if I felt even worse after they left, it was still great to spend some perfect days together. We became such close friends in a short amount of time and I know that my experience in Colombia would not have been the same without them (same for many other friends I made there). K I’ll come to visit you soon in Amsterdam (and let’s not forget about that little project we talked about...), S I’ll do my best to be back in Cartagena soon so that we can chill at your swimming pool, talk, laugh and be like if nothing has changed.
More seriously, what would be great is if I could live and work in Paris but escape to South America for like 3 months every year. Or if one day I had my own business and I could work from anywhere. Or if one day I was rich and could just travel the world and sit in cafés writing books. Well, one day... This autumn I have focused my energy on furnishing and decorating my new place (slowly but surely). Now when I’m starting to be done, I really hope I will feel better about living in Paris. After all, Paris was always my dream and I know that I’m privileged to live here. I worked hard to get my apartment and I know that I am extremely lucky and to have a big (well big for Paris) flat in a central location, not to mention la vue tour Eiffel from my bedroom window. I mean, life could be worse. Sometimes in the evenings I just stay at my window and look at the shining Eiffel tower and all my worries are far away. Maybe one day I can have it all but right now this is my life and I must do my best to like it the way it is.
Some pics of my project:
This is so typical me: I put all my energy (and me and mum’s money) into this project and now when I’m done I want to leave. Not right now but eventually, I think I need to find a solution when I can have the best of both worlds: part time Paris, part time South America. Good ideas are welcome!
To sum up: Give me avocados, papayas, jugo de maracuyà, and coconut water. Let me wear shorts, summer dresses and flip flops. Let me breath the fresh sea air every day and run into the waves whenever I feel like. Take me back to Cartagena. Life here is just not the same.
Lots of love,
Ps. This is how I look in Paris, stylish and well covered! This winter way of dressing is not fun anymore, if it ever was.
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!