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[Listen to an audio version of this blog entry here.]

I’ve stated previously how I’m not at all averse to routine, as long as I feel it’s not too detrimental to my health and well-being.

Barrio Santandercito in the north of Bogotá, Colombia, Wrong Way Corrigan's current home.

Bogotá’s Santandercito: Rough and ready.

Downwardly mobile
On the other hand, I’ve also let it be known that a monotonous 8-6 gig is not for me. While I might be traversing the same physical ground on a daily basis — something most of the world has been forced to do for much of the last 16 months — the important thing is that there’s an amount of variety to what I’m doing.

Of course, ‘being my own boss’, as I pretty much am these days, means I put as much variety into what I do as I see fit, constrained both financially and legally as we all are to varying degrees.

Throughout the pandemic, ‘spicing up one’s life’ has been rather difficult. It may be one explanation as to why I’ve found myself being pulled right into Bogotá barrio living. That is, not just socialising in my stomping ground of Santandercito but actually taking up residence there.

Yes, my living quarters are far from ideal. And lest people say ‘you get what you pay for, tight-fisted Corrigan’, I’m forking out the most I’ve ever had to for accommodation during my almost ten years in Bogotá.

‘A period of small-town living might be the answer to some issues I’ve been largely ignoring to address. Mentally recharge and evaluate my options from, quite literally, a different viewpoint.’

My main bugbears are a lack of natural light entering and the noise from above. I’m on the ground floor while the landlady and her extended family occupy the other two floors. A two-metre squared open space from the plastic roof down projects some light into my living space. It also, unfortunately, ensures I hear all the chattering and regular shouting from above as if I was actually in the same room as my noisy neighbours. Kids, who’d have ’em, eh?

Unsettling issues
Some say that for the rent I pay I could find something better. In Bogotá, for a place that’s largely independent and contract-free, I’m not so sure. I might find an apartment with better natural lighting but it would probably be lacking in something else. I’ve moved around the city enough to know that’s it hard to get past mediocrity, such is life.

That aside, there’s a certain energy on the streets that I feed off. Even in the “strictest” days of coronavirus-containment measures, there was a bit of welcome life about the place.

Now, as a resident, I get a mild buzz wandering through the barrio and greeting the various folk I know. Some are just familiar faces, no more than acquaintances, others are people I regard as good friends.

To borrow from the renowned clinical psychologist and best-selling author Jordan B. Peterson, my opting to take up residence here could be linked to a shunning of the ‘satiated dullness’ of a comfortable existence. (Peterson said this in relation to Fyodor Dostoevsky’s critique of the socialist utopia, so a rather different context. Having said that, I found nothing dull about Venezuela’s, um, “socialist utopia”. Also, I’m not so sure how and where I could find a comfortable existence these days.)

It must be noted, though, the location hasn’t that much to do with living comfortably or not, financially speaking in any case.

Nonetheless, as Bogotá is due to start roaring again like it did pre-pandemic, a more relaxed existence could be found outside the metropolis. For I can’t say that I’m currently in Bogotá for the money really. Far from it. Indeed, it could be said the small amount I earn is offset by a somewhat hedonistic lifestyle, at times anyway.

A period of small-town living might be the answer to some issues I’ve been largely ignoring to address. Mentally recharge, evaluate my options from, quite literally, a different viewpoint, before facing into another stay-or-go dilemma with a visa expiry date only months away.

There really never is a dull moment in this unsettled existence, is there?
Listen to Wrong Way’s Colombia Cast podcast here.

Facebook: Wrong Way Corrigan — The Blog & IQuiz “The Bogotá Pub Quiz”.

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La vida en Colombia desde la perspectiva de un periodista y locutor irlandés, quien ha vivido en el país desde 2011. El blog explora temas sociales y culturales, interacción con los nativos, viajes, actualidades y mucho más. Escucha su podcast acá: https://anchor.fm/brendan-corrigan.

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