Friday, February 19, 2010

An interesting start and Back from Bogota

Like Thumper said, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all".

This may be why I didn't write anything for close to a year in this blog. Or possibly because I forgot. Either way, writing a blog, take 2.

I have just recently returned back to Seattle from a week long trip to Bogota', Colombia. The Spanish architecture combined with the beautiful countryside made it an amazing adventure with a lot to see and take in. Getting past the obvious stereotypes - i.e, I wasn't kidnapped, I didn't bring home any coke, the chocolate covered coffee beans were awesome - Bogota is still somewhat recovering from an awful past painted with drugs and violence. However, they are trying (with a lot of success) to overcome this image and bring in tourism. The people in Bogota were wonderful and very helpful. My boyfriend is 100% Colombian and speaks no Spanish and I look like a Pilgram and speak beginner Spanish. So attempting to put 5000 pesos of minutes on our cell phone turned into quite the challenge at the corner market. It did end well with a whole lot of Spanish being spoken around us, but the effort strangers put in to aid in our obvious distress...well, there's something to be said for that.

We also had the pleasure of having 2 contacts down there - without the added benefit of knowing someone, I believe the trip may have been harder. Kent and I were staying in the historical district the entire time (La Candaleria). At night, this is not the nicest place to be (stay in Zona Rosa) - but our new friends came from their part of town to go out with us and even took us out to see Garavita.

As a person who's travelled to a few places over the years, I know what it's like to hit a new country (or continent) and wish you knew just a few things prior to going. So, before entering Colombia (Bogota, specifically), please know:
1. Never, under any circumstance, order a soup called me
2. If you can, bring salad dressing. They seldom have salad, but if they do, it's dry.
3. Aguarcaliente (sounds like aguariente) takes like Sambuca, tastes like Uso - it is tradition, however, so you may as well enjoy - even if you don't like the taste of black liquorice.
4. Go to all the major attractions (Salt Cathedral, Monseratte, Gold Muesum) on the weekdays. They're much less crowded and you get more time to walk around.
5. A guided tour of Bogota is a great way to see things - try to get Claudia through Diversitours. She may drive extremely crazy, but she is very knowledgeable and extremely helpful.
6. Speaking of crazy driving, I thought New York/Seattle was bad. The congestion is sickening, the roads have huge pot holes (or has eroded away on a slant!), and people go in and out of traffic like the lines don't exist. Plus, the honking.....ugh. Please note, we were told by our Colombian friend's that drivers in India are worse.
7. If you can do more of the country - do it. Bogota would have been good for 3 days, with 2 days in a B&B outside the city and then off to the coast for 3 days. We had a wonderful time and plan to go back - but with much more of the country in mind.

Take Care,

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