27 February, 2012

Happiness / Felicidad

"What makes you happy?" can be a difficult question to answer, and even more so to answer truthfully. It's hard to resist the temptation to tell someone that you like their favourite band too even when it's not really your cup of tea. It's hard to admit that material things makes you happy when we feel like we should talk about giving to charity etc instead. It's hard to admit that sometimes being lazy makes us happy when everyone around us seems so busy all the time...

I enjoy eating well.
This is definitely not fashionable. Being thin, being on a diet, saving money in the recession, that is 'fashionable.' Thankfully here the food is generally healthier than in london (at least for me, with a gluten allergy, the prevalence of corn instead of wheat is wonderful). It is also definitely cheaper than in London! For the price of a salad at Pret, you can eat so much you have to lie down in the Simon Bolivar afterwards (not that I've ever done that, ahem...).

I like dancing.
Dressing up to look good, practicing my Spanish, burning off a few calories, making friends, being better than people expect a gringa to be... Good times :)

I like winning.
I would love to blame this on my family in some way, but I'm afraid I have to take full responsibility for this one myself. Winning is good. It makes me better than you, which makes me happy. We don't even have to be in an official competition, 'winning' can happen at any time or place and in any category. It's definitely one of my less popular attributes, but hey, it gets me seats on buses ;)

I like being useful.
However, it's probably more honest to say that I like being included. As the local 'gringa' (I do try to correct them, but they don't quite care... It's rather like Brits referring to 'the continent' as if the UK weren't on the same one) everyone is including me in everything! I know in part this is for the novelty (although there are a lot more foreigners here than I'd expected they tend to stick to the 'safe' zones by the universities) and in part to try and get some free English lessons out of me, but I just don't care. It's nice to have people invite me out for a coffee, and I get to correct them while I'm at it (see above) :D

I like being creative.
So I have found a painting class! On my imaginatively titled 'List of Things to Do When I Finally Get to Bogotá' I had put 'painting classes' for a joke as a last resort if I couldn't find work/spanish classes. Only 50mil (about £17) for a month of lessons (ie 4 x 3 hours). Less than £1.50 per hour?!?! Huzzah! Sadly it's not a real painting course, it's more of a 'turn up with the supplies and the inspiration, and we'll make sure you get it right and help with techniques,' but still, amazing value for money (especially as it includes free Spanish practice). And some of the art being worked on/drying was very well done - I just hope it wasn't the teacher's stuff on display!

I like being pretty.
Realistically, what woman doesn't? I do miss the 'anything goes' attitude to appearance in London, but here I'm learning to actually bother about my nails (haven't got round to the hair yet...). Best of all, apparently in this city being pale (and/or tall) really does equal being interesting, if only I could understand what the guys say to me when I walk past (although according to my flatmates, in this case ignorance really does equal bliss - they say it's complimentary but refuse to translate details :D ).

I like travelling.
This is not just connected to the 'eating well' part, I love seeing all of the things I've read/heard about in real life. I've been to the birthplace of democracy, walked around the steps where Julius Caesar was killed, been to a concert where The Beatles first played,  shopped in the centre they used to film my favourite novella, seen the sign for Platform 9 3/4, eaten ein Berliner, refused to eat haggis, desperately wished for springtime, not minded the rain, been really happy there was no snow... Wow, lots of things! I've been a teacher for over six years, and not one week has passed without a Colombian telling about something I 'must see' in Colombia! Finally I can be nosy and see it all for myself!

So, what makes me happy? for now at least, being in Colombia :D

ETA: also hot showers. Hot showers are not something we should take for granted, and they are wonderful :)


  1. how fascinating to see happiness from an 'ex-pat'? perspective. happiness in the Land of Columbia! thanks for a new take on life :)

  2. I like your list and your authenticity - that is the name of the game - what makes YOU happy is different than other people's lists and that is what makes it authentic. Eating well is a big part of my life with my husband who likes to cook well LOL - no dieting here!

    1. Heh heh, if only eating well AND looking pretty were easy to do together! Still, a smiling Zoë with a big bowl of icecream has got to be better than a skinny one with a carrot who's snapping at everyone :D
      Thanks Deb, for helping us with all of this