I live in a place called Cochabamba. Some of my friends from home call it 'bamba and some people here call it Cocha. This city, like everything about Bolivia to me, holds a wonderful sense of deja vu. There is something familiar here that contrasts so much with the novelty of Spain I felt only a few years ago.
Malaga was frivolity, ruffled fun, idle days, constant travel plans, a omnipresent sense of disbelief and an insatiable, hungry restlessness. Bolivia is a calm sense of real life, o sea, how life should be.
My first love in a lot of ways, Spain had the effect of turning me into the eager, passionate and solipsistic adorer. I loved intensely and sometimes blindly because it was the first place I'd lived out of home, the first language I'd ever learned, the first time I travelled by myself and so many other novelties.
Bolivia, en cambio, has grown on me slowly and naturally. There is none of the butterflies, the surreal feeling that this is not my life, the hyperreality of being child-like again. It is the casual way I came to know this city and build a life here that reminds me of how far I've come from the glassy eyed kid I was when I boarded that plane almost three years ago.
It's true you associate places you've lived and cities you've loved with people who hold your heart and the person you were when you were there. Spain will always be a time capsule of a giant first love. Bolivia has turned out to be a reminder of how far I've come and how a second love, in the shadow of the first, may not be as big an explosion but will burn longer, illuminate more and leave you not dumb-founded but fully awake in its warmth.
To Cochabamba, to Malaga, to Sydney - to all the places you can love and all the ones that may come afterwards.