Colombia was (once again) rated the world’s happiest country! The Washington Post published an excellent article on the contradiction of this happiness and the past 50 years of violence. It’s a fascinating read, and it really made me think about the mindset of the people I know here versus my family and friends in the United States. I’ve now lived here for over 7 months, so I’m going to post 7 things that make me happy in Colombia:

  1. Taking life a little slower. Tranquila. One of the reasons I wanted to leave the US for a little while was to learn how to slow down and enjoy the present moment, and I’ve definitely found that here. If things don’t get done on time, there’s always tomorrow. I’m trying to learn how to not “sweat the small stuff”.
  2. Strangers who hold a woman’s baby on the bus. This happens when a woman gets on a bus and there aren’t enough seats, or she has two small children with her, or she has a lot of bags, etc. I’ve seen this happen quite a few times, the first time I was a little surprised but then heard the same story repeated by friends and realized it’s just something people do here.
  3. Always saying good morning. I wrote my previous post about this, how it’s really important in Colombian culture to greet people, both loved ones and strangers.
  4. Learning to dance. I love the Caribbean flavored music here on the coast- reggaeton, bachata, vallenato, and especially champeta. At first I was a little nervous about being the least coordinated on the dance floor, but now I don’t really care and everyone wants to teach me!
  5. Sharing my culture and language. I’m here to teach English, but just as much, I’m here as a cultural ambassador. I love being able to tell people about the real US, not just the one in the movies. And as much as I get tired of it, helping people learn English is so great when they’re truly interested.
  6. Tropical juice. Guanabana, nispero, maracuya, lulo, tomate de arbol, piña, zapote, colombolo, mango… need I say more?
  7. My family and friends. A little cliche, but no less true. Having Manuela and Maria Clara in my life has made it so much richer and happier. I love all my foreigner friends from my teaching program, and I love getting to know more Colombian friends as my Spanish improves. I came here knowing nobody, and now I have a whole network of friends. I am so blessed to have them.

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