I Broke in to my University
This weekend there was a huge festival in a town close to Tunja. I decided to not go and stay at “home” instead, because I felt like I just needed some time off to relax. I’ve been rather busy ever since I moved to Tunja and I used this long weekend (we had Monday off too) to rejuvenate. Read: I slept, ate, ran and did yoga. I didn’t really do anything else until today when I planned lessons for this next week.
In my life, even a simple weekend of relaxation ends up being interesting. On Sunday, I went out to buy fruits, veggies and water. I live at the back of my university, which is gated (this fact becomes important later), and I don’t own a car here in Colombia. There are two produce stores, a dairy/egg store and a meat store a block from the front of the university. Because I am cheap, buying food involves me dragging everything I buy back to my house in a backpack that has wheels. My other option would be to take a taxi, but I just can’t justify spending the $6 USD round trip.
The front pedestrian gate to the university is locked on off hours, but there is usually a gatekeeper around who will let me in or out. If I arrive home late at night and the gatekeeper is nowhere to be found, I can take a taxi to the back of the university where there is a gate for cars that is under construction and thus always open. This always-open-gate is not pedestrian friendly because the road leading there is very curvy with no sidewalks. Plus, it’s creeping up onto the side of the mountain so it’s a bit of a hike. No, this makes no sense to me either that they bother to pay a gatekeeper and keep some gates locked while others are standing wide open.
So, on my way out, I was let out by the gatekeeper. I went across the street and bought my groceries. For some reason, I was given papaya for free on this shopping trip. The papaya was poorly wrapped so I couldn’t put it in my backpack.
When I returned, the gate was locked and no gatekeeper was in sight. I knocked and waited. Eventually, I got tired of waiting. I decided to try the side gate, which is also for pedestrians and is oftentimes unlocked. This is a bit of a trek from the front of the university, because there isn’t a direct route, plus I was dragging 6 liters of water.
When I arrived at the gate it was locked. At this point, I’ve walked a mile or two out of my way while holding a slimy package of papaya in order to avoid taking a taxi, so I wasn’t about to take a taxi from there instead. That would have been admitting defeat. I noticed that there was a tarp covering an opening in the gate, so I scooted the tarp aside, pushed my papaya and my backpack through and then crawled under.
My grocery trip that should have taken forty-five minutes took about an hour and a half instead.
Note: Fulbright pays me enough money to take a $3 or even $6 taxi when I need it. I just still have this mentality that I’m a poor college student living on less than minimum wage in the US.