On the morning of an international flight to a place I’ve only heard about from glorified gangster movies you would think that my nerves would be at an all time high. Well as anti-climatic as it may be, they weren’t. Even with JFK being packed with stranded travelers no anxiousness or doubt set in. Even without a guidebook, local contact or any excuse of a legitimate plan, there was still no nervousness or uncertainty. In the weeks leading up to the trip I was actually starting to get worried about how un-worried I actually was.
All that Stoicism slipped right out the taxi window as I raced through the dark back streets of Bogota from the airport to my hostel. As I passed by the boarded up shops and empty sidewalks late Wednesday night all the emotions that have evaded me until this point quickly rushed in. I sunk down in the back of the cab looking out into the eery darkness and just thought… “what the hell am I doing?”
I checked into the Cranky Croc Hostel in La Candelaria neighborhood and the welcome was just as dark and quiet as the ride in. The attendant at the front desk showed me to my bed in the oversized dorm room where 6 other snoring backpackers had already called it a night. I managed to lock up the majority of my valuables in the tiny lockbox but didn’t bother changing out of my stank clothes before I crashed hard.
The morning sun brought new ambition and a strong desire to get a grip on my surroundings so I hit the ground running and set out to walk the city.
The altitude and smog makes the air thick but the music from the Bogota streets was clear and refreshing. I let myself get lost as I walk around absorbing everything this new place has to offer.
You can see the holiday spirit shines bright as I walk towards the city center. There’s a giant tree decorated with all the trimmings, lights on many store windows and office buildings and even a outdoor ice rink thats crowded with people.
Construction slows traffic and the colorful public buses honk there way through the hordes of compact cars.
The women are curvy from cheek to cheek and live up to their reputation as being some of the most beautiful in the world.
Food vendors line the streets announcing a variety of tasty treats from fresh fruit juices to empanadas and mystery meats. I don’t waste any time getting my stomach acquainted.
Police or “private security” are everywhere. Some don’t even look old enough to drive but they seem to interact with people on the streets unlike in Argentina.
After taking in some sun and enjoying a beer league soccer match at the Parque de Independencia I wandered into a little restaurant for lunch and told the cute little waitress that it was my first time in her country and wanted to try their most popular dish. As I sat there eating my fried fish and some incredible potato flavored cilantro soup I noticed some of the waitresses gathered around the register looking in my direction giggling. I realized that this wasn’t the type of place that most tourists frequent and it gave me a weird sense of comfort.
That night I joined a few Australian guys from the hostel out to the Zona Rosa neighborhood to checkout the nightlife. We walked into Club Morema and the reggeton base pumped as we made our way through the well-dressed local crowd to the bar. In a matter of minutes we were approached by three beautiful Colombian Coeds and proceeded to the dance floor to show off my gringo shuffle. After being introduced to my far share of Aguadiente (tastes like goldschlager) we were invited back to their house in the suburbs for some late night cocktails. We didn’t want to be rude so we obligated and shared a cab out of the city. We spent the next few hours sharing stories, drinking tequila and enjoying the company of our beautiful hosts.
As the sun came up we were kicked out of the apartment by a fourth, less attractive roommate who I guess had been trying to sleep as we had a grape fight in the kitchen.
My emotions on the cab ride home were much different from the previous night. Today was a good day. Tonight was a great night. This is going to be a sweet adventure.