Three years it’s taken me to get to Colombia. Three years of worrying about guerillas, fretting about hostel invasions and crying gently into my cornflakes after chickening out again. But I made it! Go me. Go me, big time.
After a congratulatory day high-fiving myself in the mirror I set out into Bogota, hands jammed in pockets, face set in as confident a scowl as I could muster through crippling jet-lag. I can only imagine it was this steely demeanour that kept me safe as I busied myself about the place photographing stray dogs and eating burritos. It wasn’t a great help when communicating with the locals, most of whom regarded me with a combination of confusion and amusement, but the time for socialising can come later, perhaps when my grasp of Spanish has expanded beyond “Where’s the bus?” and “Please, not the face.”
It’s a lovely city in comparison to the other Latin American capitals I’ve experienced, Guatemala City consisting entirely of gang members and jazz bands and Costa Rica’s San Jose being more Kent than Cancun. Bogota is at least genuinely latin, if only because I’m currently ensconced in the historic quarter of La Candelaria, home to multiple museums and the hippest organised crime in the city. The hostel I’m staying in is lovely too, if a little sparsely populated by actual travellers. Come the evenings though a contingent of locals emerge and the parties begin.
One such night ended with us invading a night club. It would be fair to say myself and the other sole traveller were alone in our foreignness. It would also be fair to say our dancing perhaps made this a little too obvious. Lucky a charitable bunch of Colombianos took it upon themselves to remedy this. I’m not saying it was a hugely successful endeavour, but it did stop me throwing shapes and doing the Macarena, if only briefly. As we ground our way through every variation of reggae-ton imaginable I began to feel right at home. Even the disparaging and/or ironically amused looks were familiar, demonstrating once and for all that in this day and age, you’re never too far from home.
Next stop is the hallowed hamlet of Villas de Leivas, a culturally significant colonial town in the mountains. I hear it’s quite the beauty, with grandiose peaks, quaint streets and a considerable lack of sudden, screaming death. Sounds like a winner.
Hasta Luego chicas. Quiero una pollo.