I have been thinking for some time that it would be interesting to have some expats post a few paragraphs about their experiences overseas – or on the unexpected culture shock of returning to the “mother” country. If you are interested please contact me via the comment form at the bottom of the “Author” page and click “submit”.
Below is our first post from writer Kelly Matthews about going to high school in Colombia in the seventies:
My father was transferred to Bogota, Colombia in 1974 to work for the American Embassy. I had just finished 8th grade but was a veteran of moving around from place to place, never staying too long in one city. I learned Spanish quickly at the international school I attended, Colegio Nueva Granada, which was filled with Americans, Colombians and students from all over the world.
I reveled in the freedom I had as buses and taxis were a cheap form of transportation. I could ride the bus all over Bogota, a city of 4 million people, for about 2 cents. After school, my friends and I gathered at Jeno’s Pizza, went to Bambuco records where they still had old-fashioned listening booths and skateboarded in the parks along Avenida Quince. We window shopped, goofed around and went to the movies in the Chapinero district on weekends. Friends would take turns hosting parties on Friday and Saturday nights!
My father wanted us to experience Colombia as the people who lived there did. I appreciated this more than anything. He would find small restaurants and mercados that were out of the way where gringos had never ventured before. Two of my favorite foods, ajiaco and empanadas, always tasted more delicious and the handcrafted items, made by Indian women, became precious keepsakes.
Colombia captured my heart and soul and has never let go. Bogota is now a city of 8 million people and has changed in a great many ways. My home where I spent three of the best years of my life is gone. Most of my friends homes are gone as well. Such is progress. The important things have not changed, however. The Colombian people are still gentle and quick with a smile, the food is still marvelous, and my friends are still the best. Bogota is the dazzling Emerald of Colombia.