HAVING SPENT TWO of the last three years in South America, I found myself getting a bit nostalgic today about home.
Finally parking my backpack down in Medellin, Colombia I’ve decided to give this writing lark a proper go, with my first novel released in two weeks time (yikes!).
On one hand, I love writing and the creative process, giving birth to new novels and following my passion.
On the other hand, I hate the fact that I’ve cocooned myself away, hours each day buried in my laptop, not embracing the culture and people here as much as I’d like.
Social life suffers a little during these times so my umbilical cord back to the Emerald Isle is regularly tweaked to make sure they haven’t forgotten me. Things I miss from back home include:
- English Speaking TV. I normally have it on in the background at home when I work. Unfortunately, Colombian TV wants to involve your eyes as well as your ears. The soap operas are soft-porn adverts.
- ‘Proper’ Bars. They just don’t do them here! I’m talking old man bars where you can sit, have a pint and chat with mates. The nearest equivalent in Colombia is hanging out in coffee shops.
- Large Coffees. Sizes here are extra small, small and medium.
- Music. Raggaeton and Salsa dominate the club scene. You want to see an Irish man outside his comfort zone? Throw a teetotal, sober foreigner in a bar on his own at 2am in Parque Poblado.
- Family and Friends. Most of them might be nobs, but they’re MY nobs.
- Fry-Up. A mainstay for me back home every Sunday morning, normally to choke a hangover. Pure fatty heaven.
- Seasons. In six months of living in Medellin, I’ve probably seen rain less than a dozen times. QUIT WHINING! I hear you say. My lily white skin has been flayed more times than I care to recall.
- English. My spanish is probably at an advanced improver level, which means I can get around. However, speaking in limited spanish also limits my experience, and certainly the conversations I can have. Exceptional at ordering coffee. Woeful at flirting.
- The bustle of Temple Bar/Grafton Street on a weekend. Buskers, wandering tourists, the cobblestone paths – I miss going for a saunter around town, side stepping nackers and rivers of puke, taking in the charm of Dublin which I used to take for granted.
- Home Comforts. Originally from the North, I would head up to Antrim from Dublin to visit my mother every month. Dinner would be served on a plate as big as a shield, a roaring fire, city roads that branched out into country lanes as I closed in on the little village of Cloughmills – a world away from the hustle and bustle. The simple things in life.
There are plenty of ex-pats living here in Medellin, but so far I’ve resisted meeting up. I still harbour this romantic notion of immersing myself in the culture, going months without uttering a word of English.
Hooking up with Yanks and Brits abroad, while nice to grow your network and connections, always seemed to me like a cop-out when it came to embracing new countries, something like hitting up an Irish bar the moment you land in a new country.
So for now, I’ll keep plugging away on my laptop under the shade of a Ceiba tree, drinking my fresh fruit smoothie 🙂
image attribution Rene Silvio H via Flickr