Come to Colombia

Disclaimer: My experiences are, obviously, anecdotal. As the subway lawyer ads say, past performance does not guarantee future results. Also obviously, and more importantly, one person’s experiences don’t guarantee that another’s will be similar.

But let me launch into my pitch–after I wrap up the stolen wallet story.

Thanks to the advice of many helpful and caring friends and one helpful and caring mom, I concluded that I definitely didn’t need to get my documents back. When my mom comes in two weeks (!!), she’ll bring me a new insurance card, and I’ve replaced the rest already. I did want that wallet back, though, so yesterday I sent the guy a text message reading (in Spanish): “This is Peter, of the documents. The documents aren’t important. You can throw those out. If you have the wallet, I’ll meet you to get that.” He hasn’t answered, so I think this story is over.

I didn’t get anything back, so you may be thinking–if you’re thinking about Colombia at all–“Why does Pete like living in Colombia after having his computer stolen out of a coffee shop and his wallet stolen out of his pocket?”

Here’s something else that happened to me this week.

At noon on Monday I sent an email to the Bogotá office of a company I worked for a few years ago. (Those of you who know me well will remember the company I interned for between freshman and sophomore years, and maybe some of the stories I have from my time there.) I wrote, basically (and in a few more paragraphs), “Hey, I interned in your New York headquarters a few years ago. Now I live in Bogotá and I’m working as an English teacher and editor. Check out my résumé and, if you ever need an editor, or someone with any of my skills, get in touch.” I woke up Tuesday morning with an email inviting me to interview with them, for a full-time job or as a contractor, depending on what I want. Two emails with a secretary later, the interview was scheduled for today.

So this afternoon I spent an hour and a half in a series of three informal interviews. My interviewers and I spoke Spanish about seventy percent of the time, and I realized I’m beginning to cut it here. I was able to tell my story, answer their questions, and drop hints about why they should hire me, all in Spanish. After leaving a sub-boss, the boss, and a senior analyst seemingly impressed, I headed home and enjoyed the beautiful walk home. (The office is fifteen blocks from my apartment.) I don’t have a formal offer, but I know a company that claims to be very interested in bringing me on board in some capacity and will be in touch when they figure out what exactly they want to add in a new hire.

My working for them is not guaranteed. Even if they offer me a job, it might not work out. I’m willing to drop some classes for the right new job, but I’m not going to drop everything for a sub-par offer. So we’ll see what develops.

But this is just one more reason why being robbed of $100 was definitely worth being where I am right now. In March I managed to save over $350–despite the robbery, despite a long weekend away traveling, despite an expensive week when friends came to visit, and despite several totally non-essential purchases, like salsa classes, ten audiobooks, and half a dozen Groupon coupons. (It’s here too, and with good deals.) My banker friends in the U.S.  better be saving more than me. But I was never going to go into banking, and I can’t see how I would be saving money if I were living there now. So I’m doing a lot better for myself here–financially and life experientially–than I would be doing in the U.S., no matter where I would be or what I would be doing.

I’m not the only one to whom these opportunities are available.

I’m not telling literally everyone who’s reading this to move to Colombia right now. But if you don’t have good reasons to remain in an expensive country with tough job prospects, keep in mind that there are a lot of exciting reasons to move to Bogotá–not even including my presence here. So, to a number if not all of you, think about it. I’d love to have more friends here, to bring friends here, and to start building things here with people I know from elsewhere.

Despite the possibility of starting a new full-time job, I’m thinking about a lot of exciting entrepreneurial opportunities that I see and that I can imagine. Hopefully I’ll make progress on some of these regardless of my collaborators, but I’d love to have help and partnership from friends. Could be great.

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