There I was. Exhausted, absolutely drained, yet at the same time full of life. I was standing in Piso 30 (also called “The End”), one of the most popular and extravagant clubs in Bogotá watching the sunrise. As light was cast over Bogotá, I thought about how many sunrises I have seen since being here. It is in the hundreds, but all from waking up at five in the morning and heading to work. This was the first one I had seen from staying up all night. With this game called “life,” we have to make decisions. In my state of “reflection,” I realized how close I came to never experiencing this moment. There I was, and I began to think…
I thought back to a year ago. It was late into the night on a semi-cold evening in Fort Worth. I was desperately trying to close my life down in the states. I made the decision to finally make the jump… move to a country in hopes of finding something… anything. I wasn’t happy with the direction of my life, and I knew I had to make a change. I didn’t want a small decision, but something with grandeur that would transform my life. The decision… Bogotá, Colombia.
I didn’t have a plan, nor job. I had close to no money, and I decided to take only a small bag with enough clothes for a few days. But none of this would have ever happened if I hadn’t experienced Bogotá a few years before (on the trip where Travel to Move was birthed). On that trip, Bogotá stood out. If I hadn’t met Angela or Adriana, I wouldn’t have experienced the kindness offered by every Colombian, and observed that every Colombian woman is absolutely gorgeous. Maybe I chose a different bar the first evening in Bogotá, and thus, never had conversations with Luis or Pablo, two men who showed me a side of Colombia that I fell in love with. I could have made the decision to skip Bogotá, but I didn’t… and instead, fell in love with the frigid capital.
It was March 18, 2010. As I drove myself to the airport at four in the morning, my mind was running at full speed. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t scared. Petrified is a more accurate term. As I parked the car, I prepared to turn off my iPhone and leave it in the car. As I hit lock, I left the keys in the dashboard, which allowed for my mother to come later and retrieve the car a few days later (since she was out of town). The door slammed shut, and there I was. The decision had been made. I had no way to get back to the house for at least several days, thus my only option was to get on the flight.
Arriving twelve hours later in Bogotá, I jumped in a cab into the city center. Although I had studied Spanish for nearly five years, at this moment my level was close to nil. Somehow, the taxi driver understood. The next day, I began to construct a life in this beautiful city.
Although I had no plan, I did have one major goal… to learn Spanish. As I began to study, I slowly started to pick up work teaching English. My first English class was with a young lad named Mauricio. If he would not have been so responsive and willing to learn, there’s a chance I would have never returned to teach. But instead, I fell in love with my job. As I began to take on more students, my brain hit full speed. After only a few months of teaching, I decided to open my own school. Exactly one year after arriving in Bogotá (and not understanding how to teach English), I find myself as an owner of an English school that caters specifically towards business clients. In what little plan I had, I never saw this one coming.
Yet owning a business wouldn’t have come without family. Family isn’t always biological, and I’ve been lucky enough to create a family here that will be with me the rest of my life, no matter where we are. Renee came into the picture within the first couple of weeks, and two mates by the name of Vicki and Christian quickly followed. We’ve formed a connection that I have honestly never experienced before in my life, and the relationship with them can only be described with one world… beautiful.
One day, I made the decision to send an email to a contact that was hosting an English Conversation Club. Stewart and I became good friends, and if it wasn’t for him, I would have never met Fernando and his family. Fernando, his mother, and sister have became some of my best friends. His mother is one of the best cooks in the world, and addition to some great conversations with her, she has also offered to marry me in order to ensure I don’t have any problems with my visa in the future.
Then there is Carlos and Sebastian, friends of Fernando. Both of these men had sacrificed countless hours in order to help get my business up and running. If it weren’t for them, I’d still be living off of my daily dosage of Ramón Noodles. Now, I have enough money to upgrade to canned Ravioli.
I thought of Enrique, someone who always drops what he is doing in order to lend a hand. If you look up selfless in the dictionary, you will surely find a picture of him. With Matt, I had hundreds of fascinating and intellectual conversations. Those helped pushed me mentally, and thus as a result, stirred my passions to continue with my masters in the near future. A friend from back home, Megan, followed me down to Bogotá (although she won’t admit she came for me). We have our daily tres leches and coffee, which of course includes conversations as diverse as they come. Monica, whose legal mind has helped me greatly when I get in trouble with the law (which seems to be quite often). And then there was Thomas, Sebastian, Emo, Matt D, Gabby, Morgan, Gavin, and Bethen, all of which I had the wonderful opportunity to study Spanish while in a constant pursuit of the coldest beer possible. Luckily, the ones I am closest to are still in Bogotá. Without them, my life would be a bore.
I thought of Ana Maria, a beautiful woman who I somehow convinced to be my girlfriend. If it wasn’t her determination to keep me on track with my personal goals, there is a chance I would be back in the United States. I thought of Laura, another ex-girlfriend who was completely out of my league (all girls seem to be). We shared nearly six months together, and I am so thankful to still have her as such a close friend.
In the process of learning Spanish, I have studied with four wonderful and truly intelligent people. Ema and Francisco pushed me to my limits in the classes at Universidad Nacional. David and Luisa took care of my private tutoring and continually lie to me and tell me my Spanish isn’t shit. In addition to teaching, they have become friends inside and outside of the classroom.
I thought of my current and old students. I taught them English, yet I sometimes wonder if I was the one really teaching.
Then there’s my mother, father, and sister. I still can’t believe I was able to convince them to be “ok” with me moving to Bogotá, Colombia. They have put up with my experiences about the robberies, bombs, protests, and hippies. Yet for some reason, their support has only come in even stronger. Without them, this would have never happened.
It’s hard to explain why I am in love with Bogotá. I’m attempting to do it through my list, yet that doesn’t even come close to describe my feelings. I feel at home. Every day I wake up before dawn and get to see the sunrise. The sunrises here are some of the most beautiful in the world, and I see them everyday.
I snapped back to reality as the sun came into full view over Bogotá. None of this should have happened, but it did. I took a risk. A risk that has provided the great return I could have asked for.
March 18, 2011. Happy one-year anniversary, Eric. Happy anniversary. I shall buy you a dozen roses and a bottle of bubbly.