With less than 4 months left of my time in Girardot, I thought it would be a nice time to write a bit of a reflection about my time here so far.
I must say, it took quite a while to settle into life here, simply because it is such a shocking contrast to my life at home. At home I was always so busy, every moment of every day. At first, I really missed my big-city luxuries. Things like going to nice restaurants, checking out a new bar that’s opened, going to the ballet with mum, going on a walk along the waterfront and having brunch at a waterfront cafe. Here, it’s impossible to find a restaurant that doesn’t have plastic chairs and tables, the theatre has held in total 2 events since we arrived here, and cafes? What cafes. Literally there is one place in the mall where you can find a proper coffee, and one cuuuuute little coffee cart dude (see featured pic above) (but who can be bothered searching a whole town for a small coffee cart… WHERE R U NOW THAT I NEED U?!)- everywhere else is just tinto- the previously explained watery coffee with oodles of sugar.
It took some getting used to, and I certainly have spent my fair amount of weekends escaping to Bogota and going on a gourmet food frenzy.
But I can honestly say, I’m finally settled and feeling good. We have friends, funny little routines and a cute apartment. Yes, the heat still gets to me, some days more than others. But generally adjusting to a much slower, calmer, and less materialistic lifestyle has taught me alot of things.
Pereza is one of these things. Pereza in Girardot is not a feeling, it’s a lifestyle. Translated, pereza means laziness. But here, it is so much more than that. You can legitimately call pereza in any situation, and it’s a legitimate excuse to get out of something. Some examples:
– The time Maija and I were loafing at home and we were supposed to go out and meet friends, and we just couldn’t be bothered. Hit them with the old pereza text and we were off the hook straight away, no problem, another time. I know with certainty that if I did that to my friends at home, they would definitely not let me get away with that.
– The times at school when a student is sleeping during my class and I tap them on the shoulder asking them to do their work, they respond with a simple “pero profe, tengo pereza” (but teacher, I have pereza), fully expecting me to be all “OMG HUN YOU POOR THING! KEEP DOIN’ WHAT CHU DOIN’! SORRY TO INTERRUPT!”
– The other times at school when a student is sleeping during my class and their actual FRIEND tells me that their friend has pereza, and that I should let them sleep.
As ridic as it sounds, I’ve really learned to embrace this pereza, and am fully on board with everything it has to offer. Girardot is a great place to be lazy.
What this means is that a simple task such as going to the supermarket, or taking your bike 10 metres down the road to be fixed can take a good 2 weeks, simply because you just can’t be bothered. Pereza is contagious.
My weekday routine, pereza included, generally goes a bit like this:
5:00am- wake up
6:00am- dawdle to school, trying not to work up a sweat
6:15am- start class
2:00pm- dawdle home/dawdle to a restaurant/cook lunch
3:00pm-6:00pm- lounge around at home/nap/make random iced drinks/procrastinate going to the supermarket/netflix
6:00pm-8:30pm- tabata and zumba class
9:00pm-cook/eat/procrastinate lesson planning
10:00pm- procrastinate getting ready for bed
Then do it all again.
Between 3 and 6, sometimes we might do something productive. Like, heavy on the sometimes. Sometimes we might go to the square and eat cholao, or go to downtown to browse around, go to the cinema, or go to the supermarket for a wander because there is aircon there. But the thing is, during those hours, the temperature is hitting around 40 degrees Celsius, or more, which makes it really difficult to leave the house. And if you do, chances are nothing will be open because, you guessed it, everyone else has pereza too.
Something which has been absolutely wonderful has been the inclusion of tabata and zumba to our lives. I can’t even imagine how many toxins we lose by doing exercise in an actual sauna. One of our amazing friends took us there the first time, and it was incredible, so we never stopped going! Also they find us super intriguing because we are like the only foreign people in Girardot, so they like to take videos of us talking and dancing and being crack up. What’s delightful is that I’m a good head taller than everyone… so if you ever come across those videos, I’m very easy to spot. Anyway, the classes are AMAZING and the instructors are energetic and lovely and hilarious and seriously, Zumba is an absolute delight.
A weekend in Girardot is a special mix of pereza and sun and beer and food. We certainly find a good amount of things to do despite the fact that the town is teeny tiny. There is a really nice walk actually, called the “Arbolito”, which is basically a 1.5 hour hike up a big hill, which has a pool and a restaurant up the top, then a 1.5 hour return. The only thing with the arbolito is that you have to start at about 5am, or by the time you’re coming back, you will actually hope that you do pass out from the heat so that someone can rescue you, and you don’t have to complete the walk. We do this walk too late every time cause we’re hilarious like that.
Another fun weekend activity is borrowing people’s pools. We are too pleb to have our own pool, but luckily we got some mad hook upz and we have a few options for desperate times.
But my all time favourite weekend activity has got to be washing. We don’t have a washing machine. Seeing as I go away maybe every second weekend, I usually have a nice back log of washing to catch up with. So a Girardot weekend usually includes a good 2 hours spent hand washing clothes. The good news is that you don’t even have to wring it out, and it still dries in about an hour.
School, like Girardot has been a mix of experiences, good, tiring, bizarre, hilarious, and totally eye-opening. I have some amazing students, who love English, who always find me and speak English with me. Other students, though, might know how to respond to “how are you”, but only when said veeeerrrrrry slowly. All students are cute and still think I’m a celeb, and yell across the school “HI TEACHER” every time they see me.
This celeb- situation continues to be much the same out on the streets, with every single person staring at the group of gringas, and every second person having something creepy to say about it. That, I’m not sure I will ever get used to, but it is just something that you learn to deal with, and try to ignore.
All in all, Girardot has 100% grown on me, and I’m lapping up these last months, as I’m hyper aware that I may never have the opportunity to live somewhere that is so vastly different to my own home.