Friday, January 28, 2011

Back in Colombia

Here I am then, back in Cali!  This is the first time I've returned overseas to a place I've previously lived in, I was in Santiago, Chile, for my year abroad, but despite having probably the best year of my life overall, didn't really feel the urge to go and live there again, there's probably something in my head that is afraid of going back to somewhere with such fond memories and then not living up to expectation second time round.  Anyway, I wanted to return to a place I know, with friends, contacts and so on, and Cali fitted the bill, so I've now been "re-settling in" for the last two weeks with Stephen's family, an English guy who's lived here for 30 years or so and who works at the Santiago, where I was last year.

Landslide near Medellin, December
It's strange to be here again.  Memories come flooding back, both good and bad, and it's hard to think that lots has changed in the seven or so months I was away, not least the fact I've crossed a continent on a bike, which is a great talking point with any of the many Americans that I know here.  Cali's weather seems to be exactly the same as I remember it, hot, sunny and tropical most days, but it's worth mentioning that since I left last June, Colombia has suffered torrential rainfall up and down the country, due to the La Niña weather phenomenon, causing deadly landslides and flooding vast areas of land.

I managed to get one of my old jobs back in the school I worked at, but that's just one day a week.  My main job was at a university, but things don't look great there now.  Rumour has it they're under investigation by the government for corruption, staff pay and hours reduced and the suspension of recruiting new teachers all lead to me to believe it doesn't look good to work there again!  I've been handing my CV into language institutes, schools and other universities, so just have to keep at it and hope something comes up, which it should, and tout private classes in the meantime.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Cali, Colombia - A New York Times Recommended Destination!

The New York Times have just published their 41 places to go in 2011, I'm not sure what's relevant about the number 41, but anyway, Cali, where I'm moving to on Tuesday and lived last year, has come in at number 10! Here's what the articles says:

Cali's Feria

10. Cali, Colombia

Cafe culture is on the rise while salsa fuels the night life.

Cali has always felt like the grittier stepsister of Medellín, but tucked amid the colonial homes of the barrios of San Antonio or Granada are a number of new jewelry boutiques, low-key cafes and salsotecas teeming with crowds as sexy as any in South America.

Salsa remains Cali’s lifeblood. If the dance floors of Tin Tin Deo or Zaperoco are too full, try La Fuente, a pint-size bar jammed with sweaty students who spill out onto the street most nights. Or, follow the sounds of Latin jazz to Guayusa, just next door. Those with serious salsa chops hitch a cab out of town to the suburb of Juanchito, whose dance floors do not fill up until after midnight (but go in a group, as this section gets dicey at those hours). Also be sure to check out a performance of Delirio, the monthly cabaret that is part Cirque du Soleil, part salsa clinic.

I'll be right in the mix again this time next week, hopefully!

P.S.  After looking at the list in more detail I see Santiago, Chile, is number 1, and I lived there between 2007 and 2008, and Manchester, my home city back in England, is number 20!  It appears I obviously live in cool places!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Getting Ready for Colombia Round 2

It's been an odd few months since finishing my CELTA, preparing gradually for my return to Colombia, earning a few quid where possible, whilst not particularly enjoying the winter...I missed last year's snow and ice whilst in tropical Cali.

Top Gear, fantastic TV
In spite of the weather, I do come to enjoy living in England after having been abroad for a year or so at a time before.  You appreciate so many more things about the country, one of my favourites is TV.  I'm convinced British television is the best in the world, nowhere else could you just turn the TV on on any random evening and have a fascinating documentary on a free-to-air channel about some landmark building constructed hundreds of years ago, or watch three middle aged men drive from Iraq to Israel in convertibles, as with the Christmas Top Gear Special.  You can get some of the big programmes on YouTube when abroad, like X Factor, which when seeing foreign versions of the franchise, you realise how fantastic the British version really is as a TV show, if not for the artists it produces, but it's good to be here and not have to trawl the internet for hours to find these shows.

In between everything else, I've been trying to write my book on America and have made a decent, if not especially fast, start to it.  Book authoring is a long haul thing I think.
The Guardian have just published an article I wrote for them on teaching English in South America which I hope is useful for anyone thinking of teaching or moving abroad.  The person who typed it up did however spell my name and Colombia wrong, and spelt "South America" without a capital, and it hasn't been corrected at the time of posting this, so don't blame me!

Won't be seeing this for a while!
It's a bit more daunting going back to Colombia this time.  I don't have a concrete job offer and therefore no visa either, which means I've got two months to get that sorted, so there'll be no time to lose once there.  Unfortunately this urgency will probably be lost on the immigration person who deals with me, and I'm not ruling out the idea of having to border hop to Ecuador to get myself another tourist visa when my work visa is delayed.  I'll have to cross that metaphorical bridge when I get to it.  I do have friends in Cali though, and know where I want to live, so that should make settling in considerably easier, as will the lack of anything remotely like cold weather.  I'll have to find my salsa feet again too!

I leave on Tuesday and this blog will be updated every now and again with my various Latin adventures and escapades, so make it a favourite or you can now follow me on Twitter!  If anyone wants to contact me for whatever reason, you can do so by clicking on my profile on the right-hand side, or also through Twitter.