Bucaramanga, Colombia

Whilst travel offers many moments of magic it also creates challenges that test your perception of self. This has been my ‘arrival’ experience.

My flight from Buenos Aires to Bogota went very well. I had four seats to stretch out on and I slept soundly. Bogota was my entry into the country of stay so the place where I face customs. Well, the place I would have faced customs, if I received any bags. Yep, the lost bag scenario.

Speaking in Spanish is a challenge for me. One that I love. Filling out official forms and dealing with organisations is also a challenge. One that I do not love. Put them together on top of 27 hours of transit … Well lets call it a lesson in the art of acceptance.

On to Bucaramanga. with no bag. That’s no clothes to change into, no shampoo, no musical instruments and worst of all, no puppets and I have to get on stage in three hours. By this time I have had 36 hours in transit in total and only a few moments of sleep. 

Needless to say I go to the hotel, meet my room mates and have myself a ‘princess moment’. I mean, really, right now I would like a room of my own to have a personal breakdown in. I want to Skype my family who I am missing and I want to shower and have clothes to change into and id like to lay down on a big bed and have a siesta.

Instead I am given a festival shirt, change and to the shops with me. Now truth be known, I hate shopping malls. Give me a market any day, things that are hand made, crafted, where you meet and buy from those that care. Shopping mall hell armed with a coffee ensues as I buy underwear, toiletries and look for something to wear that night on stage. I am taller than most Colombians and flatter than ALL Colombianas. There were no clothes. A new shirt and same old jeans and to the theatre with me.

I am fourth on the list and have not done a sound check but there is no time for that. I have not eaten but there is no time for that. The theatre is packed. Absolutely packed with lovely warm, welcoming people. I take my spot when the time comes and my interpreter doesn’t. I present my first story in Colombia to a totally Spanish speaking audience in my Spanglish. And the main thing I can think is “Why didn’t I study harder before I came?!”

So here’s to all the bilingual, trilingual and amazing linguists of the world. I salute you. When I get home I promise to study harder.

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