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Back in late 2007, during my first full-time radio job, the general manager of the station in question, a recently-appointed Portuguese man, took to me one side and said, ‘Brendan, you’ve lost your joie de vivre.’
While he mightn’t have been totally correct that at 22 years of age I wasn’t happy with life in general, I was certainly dissatisfied with some, largely work-related aspects, and this obviously showed in my behaviour. Like many, I wear my heart on my sleeve.
In many ways, that period marked the beginning of a new departure. A few months later I had left that radio station to take up an ill-fated editor position at another one. Before 2008 was out, I’d my backpack in tow, embarking on a 10-month adventure that took me around South America, New Zealand, Australia and parts of South-East Asia.
A return to broadcasting and Ireland followed, before, once again, wanderlust took over. South America was calling. After an initial three-month stint in Santiago de Chile, it was Colombia that became the base in late 2011. That’s pretty much how it has been since.
Of course, starting off in a new country from scratch, that is to say moving without a job already secured or any clear plan, makes things a little more difficult. It takes time to get established. What’s more, in many ‘developing’ countries such as Colombia, working freelance in an unstable sector and earning the local currency means it’s not easy to get into a comfortable situation financially speaking.
Personally, the first two-to-three years here had enough adventure and excitement, as well as a trickle of cash flowing in, to keep me relatively content. Heck, there was even (and still is, minus the same excitement) the odd TV ‘super extra’ gigs. The joie de vivre was there.
However, in the last couple of years, this has been on the wane. Again, the root cause seems more job-related than anything else. The accidental teacher has become tired with his lot. The mediocrity has gone on a few years too many truth be told. On that score, the ante has been upped of late to find something more fulfilling, whatever that may be and wherever that may take me.
It must be pointed out that it’s not exactly the location that I’ve grown tired of; Colombia and even Bogotá itself still excite. However, once you become mired in one important element, even if it is not exactly place-specific, it can be difficult to focus on the many other positives. The grey cloud darkens all.
That notwithstanding, another, not-insignificant aspect that isn’t exactly a roaring success is in the dating game (yes, here we go yet again).
The Colombia, nay Bogotá, I feel compatible with, at home in, is the tienda, what you might call more campesino/country style of life. Now this isn’t just from a price perspective, as has been explained before.
Unfortunately, in terms of most of the Colombianas I’ve been attracted to and tried to have something with, going out in such places is anathema to them. The ridiculously overpriced, ‘fancier’ but fake locations are anathema to me. Plus, as someone who likes to try to be honest from the get-go, it tends to work against you here.
Yes, I’ve wasted time and money with too many interesadas, but it’s generally the nature of the fauna in these parts.
Unlike the work situation, the above is more a problem of place, an incompatibility of sorts (but not in all cases, it’s just ‘compatibility’ has been harder to find of late; you could say I’ve become more stubborn, not less!).
Looking at it all together, it’s not that things aren’t working or the joie de vivre is gone, it’s just that it’s not going exactly how I’d like. Of course many people live their whole lives that way, a reluctant acceptance of their lot.
As long as you’re still breathing, though, there’s always time to change and explore other options. For a singleton without children to care for, this is even more so the case.
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