Expat Chronicles

  • Expat Chronicles
Blog of the month
Published 2009-11-01 00:00
My name is Colin and I'm an American living in Bogota, Colombia. I'd lived in Arequipa, Peru for a year when I moved here seven months ago. I like Bogota so much that I'll stay longer than the original plan of one year.


my blog tagline: adventures of a sexually-frustrated, alcoholic gringo in latin america

My name is Colin and I'm an American living in Bogota, Colombia. I'd lived in Arequipa, Peru for a year when I moved here seven months ago. I like Bogota so much that I'll stay longer than the original plan of one year. This is my first time living abroad; the original plan was to stay in Latin America for the rest of my life. The plan hasn't changed.

When did you decide to go and live abroad? Is it your first time or are you a "serial expat"? Why did you choose to live in Colombia?

I decided to live in Latin America after a two-week trip to Brazil, where I fell in love with the lifestyle. I didn't want anything more to do with the stress and cold culture of my home country. Plus, many of these countries are bona fide emerging markets poised for explosive economic growth, which presents good career opportunities. And finally, I already spoke Spanish.

I decided on Bogota after a weekend trip here while I was living in Peru. Peru's great, but I couldn't resist Colombia.

The place where you live: how would you describe it? What do you like the most about it? What is your occupation there?  

I'd describe Bogota as a romantic and on-the-verge metropolis of 8 million. It may be a bit cold for some at 2600 meters, but the Andes Mountains and Colombian architecture are beautiful. It's a professional and academic city with ample investment and a huge student population, but it's been held back by the decades-long instability of the country: war, terrorism, narco-trafficking, kidnapping, and crime. With Colombia's newfound security, I think the country is really ready to break out. I'm bullish on Colombia.

I work in freelance marketing and web development, exporting, and freelance writing.

How is / was the cultural shock?

I took the Latin America stuff in stride as I knew what to expect: dogs running around with no leashes, few rules in traffic,  poverty, Spanish, lunch more important than dinner, dancing every weekend, etc. But I'll be honest - the hardest thing to get used to in Bogota was the crime. I sometimes feel I write about it too much and should focus more on the positive, but it's a compelling subject. People in Bogota generally get off the streets around 7 - 8pm, after which it's a ghost town. But you get used to it and ultimately fall in love with the place.

Do you miss anything from your homeland?

Family and friends of course. NPR and (good) music in English. I do NOT miss American food.

Your blog: when did you start it? For what reasons? Did its original purpose changed along the way? Do you spend a lot of time on it?

I started Expat Chronicles in April 2008 when I moved to Peru. I thought it'd be a good way to keep my friends updated on what I was doing. But when I realized most of my traffic came from people I'd never met, I got hoop dreams of being a writer. The blog's purpose has definitely changed. I've shifted the focus from me and my life to things people actually care about: cultural, national, and city nuances of Bogota, Colombia, Arequipa, Peru, and Latin America in general.

>Did you make new friends with your blog? Have you ever met somebody you spoke with on your blog?

I've made a LOT of virtual friends. Most of them are Latinos living in America - people born to Peruvians or Colombians who speak Spanish. They say they learn more about their culture from reading my interpretations. And Americans married to Latinos love to read what life is like since those couples seem to always be contemplating a move down here. I'm still surprised at how many people have reached out. It's encouraging. I've met a few in person.

Expat-blog : when did you register? Any particular reasons?

I registered in November 2008, just after investing in a self-hosted domain. I'm proud to say that Expat-blog is among the top traffic sources to my site, handily beating Facebook, Twitter, Stumbleupon, etc.

So thanks to everybody on the Expat-blog team!

Any 'memories of an expat' you would like to share with other bloggers? Your best souvenir? Or maybe your worst experience?

I have a recurring sensation every time I go back to the States. If I land in Miami it won't be too different because it's all Latinos. But if I connect in Atlanta or go straight to St. Louis, I see all the Americans, I'll eat the American food, or hear all English and get depressed. As soon as I touch down in my country, I get depressed! I already miss Latin America!

Of the many souvenirs sent home for birthday / Christmas presents, the biggest hit was this hat I got for my kid brother. He's 10 and he wanted the same hat I have on in the picture. Those are common in Bogota so I bought him a Small for now and a Medium for when he grows out of it - all for less than the cost of taking him for a meal in the States.

Expat Chronicles