Traveler Diaries – Denver, Colorado – Returning Home After Two Years Abroad

Since returning to my home state of Colorado after two years of living abroad I find myself falling in love. I’ve fallen in love with the familiar sights – from the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains with their snow tipped peaks to the verdant foot hills. I’ve fallen in love with the familiar smells – the crisp clean air and the smell of the flowers. I’ve also fallen in love with its mercurial weather that I have missed so much with the sky that shifts from clouds, to rain, to snow, yet always returns to those sunny blue skies. After spending nearly two years abroad with humid climates, gray skies and wet winters and springs I find the dry air of Colorado to be most welcome. In short, I have fallen in love, maybe for the first time ever with my home state of Colorado.

As a kid I was born with a serious case of wanderlust. I used to love going to the library and getting books about travel. One of my favorite places to read about was Egypt, with its exotic mysterious air and its magnificent tombs and pyramids. Wanderlust followed me into high school as I continued to dream about far off lands. When teenage angst set in, I wanted to be anywhere but Colorado. As a teenager, I found Colorado boring. I wasn’t really an outdoorsy girl and I hated skiing having only skied once in my life. Sure, Colorado was pretty, especially when driving through the mountains but it lacked the excitement of New York City, or the romantic air of Paris. When the opportunity to live and work abroad came up, it was like a dream. I happily left Colorado to pursue an exciting life abroad first in Europe than Asia.

My first stop in Europe was Belgium. The first thing I noticed about Belgium was how often it rained. An umbrella was my constant companion during those gray and dreary days of rain. Once it was dreary and rainy for nearly two weeks straight. In Colorado there were never gray skies or rain for more than a few days at a time.

When I lived in Shanghai, one of the biggest cities in the world with 23 million people, I thought about all those times I had complained that Denver was too small. Having lived in Shanghai, where it took nearly 45 minutes to an hour to get anywhere interesting, I began to think Denver was just the right size.

Shanghai was also the literal definition of a concrete jungle with skyscrapers and buildings with few open green spaces. When I looked around Shanghai it wasn’t mountains I saw, it was just towering skyscrapers and concrete buildings. In Denver, whenever I looked to the West I could see the majestic mountains looking like a peaceful still painting.

As a Coloradan I also used the mountains as my compass. When I headed towards the mountains I knew I was headed west. From there, I could figure out where North, South and East were. I couldn’t do that anywhere else.

When I did go in search of mountains in Shanghai I found they underestimated the size of their mountains by a lot. Once I sought out an oasis from the city and traveled to Sheshan, a supposedly scenic area of the city, where I was told there was a mountain with a basilica at its peak. What I found, by my Colorado standards, was a very large hill. As a Coloradoan I just did not have the heart to call it a mountain.

When I traveled to Amsterdam in the middle of winter (which I don’t recommend) I found it brutally cold. While Colorado is known for snow and does get cold in winter, I now know the difference between “dry” cold and “wet” cold. The wet cold of Amsterdam was brutal and I had to don a heavy puffer jacket that added 10 LBS onto my petite frame to deal with the onslaught of cold. The wet cold of Amsterdam pierced my bones. The sun was also rarely seen during the month I spent in Amsterdam. I saw the sun only three times in the whole month I was there. I could not understand how the Dutch still seemed so jolly and friendly but I guess they were just used to it. As a Coloradan I was used to seeing the sun, even after a snow storm the sun would always surely return.

So now that I’m back in Colorado, I have a renewed sense of love and appreciation for my home state. I also see how much it has changed in two years. With the legalization of marijuana, more people have chosen to make Colorado their home. Colorado has become more bustling and hip now than when I left as I see new neighborhoods and districts popping up with trendy bars and hip cafes.

While I loved every minute I traveled, I am also loving the taste of the familiar and I think I will savor its taste for as long as it lasts (or at least until the travel bug bites again).


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