Feb 4, 2012

The Paris chapter comes to an end

I leave the country with warmth in my heart, happy and satisfied, thinking how crazy this past two years were: a roller caster of emotions is not that good a metaphor to describe my experience… an ‘intergalactic roller caster of doom and glory’ would be more appropriate to describe my feelings.

Today, two years ago, I arrived to Paris for the very first time. I arrived after five wonderful years in Sweden. Getting to France wasn’t at all smooth; it was actually sudden, and very disorganized. I arrived to France lacking confidence, doubting myself, fearful, kind of wounded; something that I can't really explain perfectly why. Probably a combinations of factors: lacking motivation, confusion, economical problems, and hardcore cultural shock.

My first year was very uneventful, I was struggling to pay two credit cards that after a few months of unemployment were almost maxed out. The shock of Parisian cost of life hit me like napalm… goddamn it, what an expensive city! I thought that Sweden was expensive but compared to Paris it feels cheap. Half a pint of beer at a crappy nightclub in Paris could be 10 €… in Sweden I NEVER paid 10 € for a full pint. In other European countries I could have a pint for less than 2 €, the rightful price for a beer.

Let’s not talk about renting an apartment... or the electricity bills, OK? Nonetheless, I was lucky and managed to rent a small studio downtown Paris, extremely well located. Happiness… the City of Light, what a beauty, such magnificence! I did feel inspired. Happiness… its women, what beauty, such magnificence. My inspiration skyrocketed! I must say that so far, from all the places I’ve been around the world, Paris scores No. 2 in my top 5 list of cities with the best ratio of gorgeous women per square meter.

Actually, I came to Paris to work as a researcher for the CEA, the French Commission for Atomic and Alternatives Energies; a governmental research agency. It was kind of funky… the place is about 1 or 1.5 hours commuting time from Paris. The facilities were kind of old but the research and the equipment was state-of-the-art. Although I had the slowest computer in history, once I counted 5 minutes before the browser opened after double click. Lunch was extremely cheap and there was always a lot of options, I think I had too many steak hachés avec frites in any case. At the end of my two years of research, I published a scientific article, and two more are on the pipeline… ready to be sent to the publishers. Most importantly about the whole CEA experience is that I came up with a great idea, that I believe will let my voice be heard more attentively in the field of work I specialize: hopefully… let’s see how far I can push it.

However, my dating life in Paris sucked ass until around the end of winter 2011. Before that and during the entire 2010 I did not dated a single girl. March 19, 2011, I’m out partying when I meet this girl from Poland. A woman not favored by Aphrodite. The experience was kind of revolting and led me to reflect on the poor state of my soul until then. I concluded that at all cost I had to recover my confidence, my natural mojo, and get my dating life back into shape. In less than six months, after some amazing times, I met the most wonderful girl… she who today is the object of my adoration, she who gives me immense reasons for happiness.

And then after a year, in a really dumb move that I regret, I gave up my apartment and moved out to the suburbs... I wanted to save some extra money, but at the end it was a very bad idea. This neighborhood, called Villebon-sur-Yvette, although pretty it's way too boring. It's a neighborhood for retired old people that can't bend down anymore to pick up their dogs poop. So I have renamed this village: Poop-sur-Yvette.

During my two years in France I had the chance to travel quite a bit: I drank excessive amounts of palinka in Hungary; it was always my dream to see the Great Wall of China but I never imagined that it would come true so soon; I bought three of Tin Tin’s comic books in Belgium; I spent one night in London for a job interview, for a position I didn't get; I stood at 3555 meters above the sea level in the summit of Volcano el Teide in Tenerife. I snowboarded in Sweden and I went for an intensely romantic weekend holiday in Helsinki… I also visited Colombia after more than three years away from home! Not bad at all… not bad at all.

I also take with me a permanent scar on my chin after I face-planted horribly, a real life nightmare… details of a shameful story that should never be told again. Just to remind me for the rest of my life not to be a fool.

Another good thing about my time in Paris are the friendships I made, some of which will probably last a lifetime. I was visited by many old friends! In particular, I met again with one of my best friends from my childhood, who I had not seen for almost seven years; like my family... suddenly France didn't feel so foreing to me. I guess making new friendships are one of the most rewarding experiences from traveling the world and visiting new countries. The memory of a museum will vanish after a few years, but a good friendship and the memories of what was lived together will last forever.

Enough. It’s time to close this chapter. It’s time to start writing a new one, a new story perhaps more exciting and more beautiful: a new adventure. Yet all adventures are challenging and dangerous, risks will have to be taken, obstacles will have to be surmounted, but at the end I shall get there… to that place of my dreams.

On Sunday I’ll be going to London, and next Thursday I’ll come back home. My adventure will continue in Perú where I’ll reunite with my love for almost a month… what wonderful surprises await?! I’ll be back to Bogotá for some time again and by the time spring ends I should be flying back to London. There I’ll join a new laboratory at Imperial College London to continue doing research and with some good luck make some interesting discoveries or get some incredible world saving ideas. That’s the plan for the moment.

Goodbye France. It was nice meeting you.


  1. Tanai, no hay nada imposible en este mundo pa ti. Solo lamento mucho una cosa: no haber ido a visitarte. Como que crei que ibas a estar ahi para siempre :/ pero bueno, tambien estos dos años coincidieron con todo el wedding+baby thing.
    Seguro que Francia y su gente te corresponden, y se quedan vacios ahora que te vas, como nos quedamos aqui!

    1. Angie!! Sí, y yo esoty lamentando no ir a Suecia después del nacimiento de Emilia, y haberme perdido de tu boda!! :'( Espero que nos veamos pronto, todavía tengo unos regalos que entregarles de parte de mi mamá y mi tía!! Un beso y un abrazo.

  2. Great post - thanks for sharing the views and insights - it made me smile! =) Good luck with everything and have a great time in Peru! // Tobi

    1. Thanks man!! I'm very glad you read and liked the post!! Hugs bro.

  3. How great Tanai- it's always a pleasure to read your well formulated blog articles, and even a greater pleasure to hear that life has taken a new exciting turn for you! Love&adventures... the essence of life..
    I'm happy I got a chance to visit you in Paris, it was some of the most wonderful days this year, and I'm grateful for your hospitality. Next time London, or perhaps Finland.. ? I live in a small house on the countryside now where there is plenty of space for visitors.

    1. Dear Manga, great to hear from you! Thanks for reading and commenting! I hope to see you soon.

  4. Hi Cuz! No puedo creer que ya hayan pasado dos annos de tu tiempo en Francia, increible. Y mas increible que ahora vayas a trabajar en Imperial College, Felicitaciones!
    Conoces gente en Londres o sera un inicio de cero?
    Como sea, estoy seguro que vas a tener mucho exito!
    Porfa cuentame en que fechas estas en Bogota, yo visitare Bogota en mediados de Marzo.
    Un abrazo! -Cesar