My preparation for this trip has been less than rigorous. As such, packing properly could be an impossible, if not aimless, task. My suitcase included a complete electrical adapter kit. However, one little visit to any of a number of websites may have told me that the outlets in Colombia are the same as in the US. Better safe than sorry in this case.
One important thing that I did think to look up before leaving was the weather. Being equatorial, individual regions of the country enjoy fairly consistent weather throughout the year; weather that one might assume to be very warm. However the weather in Bogotá is not hot at all. As I type this it’s about 2PM and a cloudy (semi-damp) 63 degrees. I really enjoy it so far but have slight issues with the cold floors. Having not been in a developing country for about 2 years I must have forgotten the ubiquity of construction materials of choice. And, truth be told, once again I did not give much thought to what the accommodations would be like before arriving.
Which brings me to the real purpose of this post, to provide some insight into my living arrangements. I am living in Central Bogotá which is also, paradoxically located on the eastern edge of the city adjacent to the mountains. It’s very near the university where I am working (Universidad de los Andes). It’s a rather young private university (less than 60 years) but is independent of both the church and the state – a rarity for Colombia and South America and universities in general. So far I am impressed with it and am gathering material for a post in the near future about some of the impressive architecture. More importantly my apartment is about a 5 min walk from campus (++).
Also, I have a roommate, Adriana. She assisted me with finding the place and provided some other housing options before I arrived. She’s a student in industrial engineering and is originally from Cali. She’s been helpful in showing me around school and helping me find where to buy groceries, etc. It’s also good to have someone around to try and speak Spanish with. I think I’d go nuts if I was living by myself, but she could very well be thinking that have a gringo around will get old fast, who knows (+).
Prior to my arrival she warned me that she had an extra room but no bed or closet. Partially on the advice of my professor here, I said no problema and arrived with a sleeping bag. At the last minute I left my sleeping pad at home to make more room. Again, I’m not sure what I expected but I can not state it more clearly than to say the floors are very hard, flat and cold. Thankfully there is the couch to sleep on while we wait for an air mattress from a professor (|).
With sleeping arrangements taken care of haphazardly, I can now focus on food. Space is at a premium here (as I should have known) and thus there is little room for food, let alone food for two people. We split a tiny fridge and I am realizing that much of the food I enjoy eating needs to go in the fridge. I miss my big American fridge at home. Nonetheless I am figuring out my way around this new kitchen (though not turning around in it) and discovering what I can prepare and what might be considered a little too daring. So far I have been motivated to make meals for myself at home since I don’t know anyone else and am still figuring out the neighborhood. Plus, I have my limit for eating out alone (|).
The only thing I can think to give a negative rating so far is the shower situation. Adriana has tried to explain to me how the hot water heater works. It’s really my fault for not having figured it out yet. Like last night she had turned it on and asked me to turn it off in 20 minutes. She told me it was so she’d have hot water in the morning and she wouldn’t be running the gas all the time. Because running the gas for an hour is like using 12 light bulbs for an hour. Cool, makes sense and I’m down with the energy savings vibe but I have no idea how she knows when to turn it on and when there’s enough hot water for a shower. When I got in there this morning well after she had gone to a 7:30 AM Saturday class there was not any hot water. I’ll work on getting to the bottom of this (-).
I feel like I should have known better what to expect but I guess it’s a reminder that you have to walk a mile in another man’s shoes and wipe your feet on the same entryway rug as him before you truly know his way.