Saturday, September 11, 2010

Colo Arrives in COLOMBIA

My eyes open slowly as my ears feel the pressure of the descending airplane. It's been nearly 30 hours without decent sleep, mainly resting on floors in airports (Denver, JFK, Orlando) and cat naps on the plane. The lack of rest no longer matters anymore as the captain announces en español our descent into Bogota. My restless body fills with excitement suddendly as I begin to feel giddy like a kid on Christmas morning. I ask the nice family next to me (from Bogota) about their favorite kinds of food. Without much thought, they respond with ajiaco (soup), sancocho and yucca. All sound amazing from their descriptions.
Bienvenidos a Colombia Colo! The people here in South America call me Colo (colorado) because of my red hair, not to be confused with my home state of Colorado, though ironic to them. The long line through customs quickly reminds me of the inefficiency in South America compared to that of the Estados Unidos. Though, I'm simply happy to just be back. I can't put into words what it is about this continent that fills me with so much joy.

Our group for these 3 weeks of travel through Colombia is somewhat dynamic and quite comical to the locals. Dora, from Bogota, is our tour guide and girlfriend of my good amigo BJ (college roommate). We also have Mike Cando (good buddy and my compañero on my first venture to Buenos Aires) coming from Argentina. Jason (also friend from college) is meeting me at the airport so I can be a translater and get us to Dora's Aunt's house safely via taxi. The last 2 of our group are William Reed and myself from Colorado. BJ (William), Reed (William), Jason, Mike, myself and Dora. When you see us its two tall Willy's (one 6'4 another 6'6), Mikey (Philipino), Jason from Hollywood, myself (red-head) and our gracious tour guide Dora. You just have to see us walking down the streets of Bogota to appreciate the comedy of it all. Fortunately I spot Jason in the customs line right away and we pick up our luggage. The taxi driver, Raul, brings us to Dora's Tia's house in 30 minutes. Upon arrival, we are greeted by the rest of our crew, glasses of vino and a yummy dinner of chicken, potatoes and rice. After a good hour of chatting, laughing and catching up we all slowly make our way to our respective bedrooms. The house contains 8 bedrooms, perfect for hosting us gringos!

Excited for breakfast prepared by Tita and Dora, all smiles!

I awake the next day to the calls of breakfast (desayuno). "Tita (Dora's Aunt) has breakfast prepared for us," BJ exlaims happily. The perfect way to awake our first day in Bogota. Eggs and cheese on a tortilla with Colombian Cafe. Sounds simple, tastes delicious!

The group from left: Tita, Dora, BJ, Jason, Reed, myself enjoying breakfast

We then venture to a huge market to buy food for our stay. Now this is no ordinary mercado. Tita called it the best/cheapest place to buy food in Bogota. BJ is our chaffeur through the city of Bogota, quite an interesting experience. We came within 8-12 inches of hitting other cars or people numerous times. We arrive at the plaza and quickly realize that we are the circus show of this shopping exerience. This is no Safeway or Alberton's. They bring the pigs in and slaughter them at this market. Fresh meat is an understatement here. Around every corner we walk people gather in groups to analyze us like we're either rock stars. Reed, 6'6 attracts people from all over the market. We are being analyzed like we're not human, this is a bit uncomfortable but we all laugh it off. After two hours in the market we return for a great lunch (yucca, potatoes and carne).

carne at the plaza, appetizing?

Fruit for days at the plaza

Over lunch we truly realize the significance of being in Bogota as Americans. Ten to twenty years ago, this city was in constant turmoil. People could barely walk the streets without being targeted by the drug cartels with guns or bombs. She shares stories that are still fresh in her mind, you can see it in her eyes and hear it in her words. We all quickly realize how much the city has cleaned up. The most recent president, Uribe, helped Colombia turn its 180 and become a country that us gringos can now enjoy. "Gracias a Dios y gracias a Uribe," she continually says intermittenly in the stories.

A candycane-like church 2 blocks from our place

Our newfound appreciation of being in Colombia safely, so far.... (keep your fingers crossed) leads us through the night where we find ourselves at a local bar drinking with Dora's amigas and cousins. We danced away the night with very affordable beverages and learning the local salsa dances. This is unreal, we keep saying to each other. Such a special experience thus far and so much more to come. Gracias a Dios y gracias a Uribe that we're here.

Our living area at Tita's casa, very relaxing

I now am being summoned to the patio's barbecue to help out with tonight's Colombian-style asado (bbq). If we're not exploring the city or learning salsa dances, we're gathering and enjoying meals together, such a beautiful way of life and I only hope you can vicariously experience this all with us through these words. Now, lets enjoy another meal together, can you smell the carne marinated with peppers and onions? I can, now let's eat! Until next time, Bon appetit Señoras y Señores!

1 comment:

Cjay said...

so inspiring man... I'm reading this in my room in San Diego knowing that I almost was a cast member for this adventure(but wasn't meant to be for me). Although reading your words in a relaxed, meditative and open state allows me to live as vicariously as I can through your words. Thanks for sharing Robin