Today marks my last day in Colima. If you’d told me eight months ago when I arrived that I’d actually be sad to leave, I definitely wouldn’t have believed you. Those first couple of weeks were stressful, unsettling and quite lonely. But I was proactive. The message thread on Couchsurfing where I put myself out there saying I was new to the city and wanted to meet people has been a godsend. Honestly, some of the loveliest people I have met here were as a result of the few words I posted on the site. I’ve met so many people during my time here and I’m hugely grateful to each and every one of you for being patient with my Spanish, welcoming me with open arms, and teaching me about Mexican life. But there are a bunch who definitely need a proper mention. No names and not too many details to avoid tears on my keyboard…
- One of my first ever ‘students’ who introduced me to great bands like Bloc Party and Phoenix in our first ever convo, rung me up out of the blue to tell me he’s outside my flat to take me for some chelas, and has been begging me to take him in my suitcase for months
- My first travel buddy in Mexico, who took me to my first salsa bar, invaded my kitchen to make a mean load of vegan tacos, and made work at the university bearable
- Couchsurfer girl who’s completely on the same wavelength as me. She introduced me to one of my favourite places in Colima for some artisan beer and many chats about music, travelling and being an open and free spirit living in quite a close-minded city
- Couchsurfer swinger couple who have just moved to one of my favourite cities, Granada. We definitely didn’t meet up enough
- Another couchsurfer who has the loveliest, warmest smile, works with organisations to help underprivileged communities, and will hopefully be in London next year for a few months. I have high hopes that she’ll get into the LSE Women, Peace and Security programme which sounds perfect for her
- ColimaFest, our small side group from the large exchange bunch. Outings to rivers, spontaneous nights out, cultural stuff around the city, and a five-hour group outing to get inked
- One guy from the exchange programme in particular who’s so easy-going and fun that I feel great around him. His laugh is wonderfully contagious
- One Columbian gal in particular who, despite working way too hard and always being late, is great company and will always chuck advice at me even when I don’t want it
- My French cinema buddy, who I will 100% be visiting in Paris next year. I finally got to see her drunk (from the very pricey tequila she bought for me) on her short visit back to Colima. That definitely has to happen again
- Tinder Lawyer Guy who, despite our confusing and annoying couple of months talking, then not talking, then talking again, somehow managed to get too emotionally attached to me. (Long story. I’ve actually written a whole thing about it but decided against posting.) His attitude to life has definitely made me question mine for the better
- And last but not least, a few of my students who never fail to make it to La Boquita on a Thursday night
Despite a couple of things I’m not going to miss about Colima, like waking up in the middle of the night to scratch the shit out of my mosquito bites or arriving to every class/event a hot sweaty mess, the city will remain close to my heart. I know it’s a major cliché but I’ve learnt a lot about myself over the last eight months living on Mexican soil.
Although I’m hugely looking forward to seeing friends and family again, returning home is going to be hard. I need to prepare myself for some serious reverse culture shock; moody commuters, everything in fast motion, overpriced avocados, beer, transport, EVERYTHING. Not to mention, reintegrating into the uni life.
But for now, I’ve got two and half months of travelling to look forward to. A couple of cities on my own doing some couchsurfing to begin with, then reunited with my Southampton travel buddy for a few more, reunited with my brother to visit Mexico’s beautiful coasts and Mayan ruins, and a few days in Guatemala together before I escape to a sustainable eco-project for a month. Keep an eye out for photos and more posts.
So in a few hours I’ll be on a coach to Querétaro, my first stop out of 13, leaving this small, hot, but lovely city, what has been my home for the last few months.
So long, Colima. Te voy a extrañar.
Lessons learnt: living in another country is hugely rewarding, I need a job to fund future travels, and paths will always cross.