Skip to content

Bogota, Colombia

March 23, 2009

I am in Bogota at the moment to work – essentially, even though we spent the day – playing. You might be asking yourself what Bogota is like. Well, I am going to tell you. In some ways it reminds me of Brazil. There is crazy traffic everywhere and there are billboards all over the place. Most of the construction has that decadent neglected look to it that I first noticed in Uruguay. So in a way, it reminds me of there too. But on the other hand it is much cleaner than Brazil and lush in a totally different way. Everything you hear about flowers in Colombia seems to be true – I can assure you that I now know everything about the place because I have been here for more than 24 hours! Yeah – right! But that part about the flowers is true. Get this! They sell bouquets of orchids at the traffic lights. So that puts that question out there – is there any other place in the world that sells orchids on street corners? I will wait on the answer to that one.

We started our play today in a taxi and we first went up a funicular to a cathedral on a hill that overlooks the city. The city is built between two stretches of the Cordillera de los Andes and so pretty much wherever you look from up at that height you see mountains. That is something that I am definitely not used to and in a way it reminded me of La Paz. Anyway, after our trip up the mountains we took our tour to the center of town to the old colonial section. The Spanish colonial architecture there reminded me of Peru. So I did a lot of remembering today. In the old town we visited the Fernando Botero Museum and I was reminded of other trips I have taken and just how much I love an art museum. When we were done with that we continued our tour on foot. The thing that struck me most was the police presence on the streets. There were army, police and civic guards all over the place. In fact when we went down to the President’s “Palace” the street was cordoned off and they were checking people’s bags as they went in. one of the teachers in our group tried to walk near on the sidewalk closest to the palace and was told that was not allowed. From there we went on to the square on which the Supreme Court is located. On the steps of the Supreme Court building the riot – SWAT – or Elite Troops were guarding the building complete with helmets, knee pads, those “plastic- sheildy things” they use and obviously, machine guns. That was crazy. I have never seen anything like that before. In fact, that made the bullet-bomb proof Range Rover that had the sides extended all the way to the ground that I saw in Belfast look like a child’s toy. Apparently protesters gather in the square in front of the Court building and sometimes the protesters are infiltrated by the bad guys and the elite troops are there to protect the people. Okay.
After that we had a realy nice typical lunch and the soup we had reminded me of my mom’s corn chowder. Now, that is a good memory! From there we went to the Gold Museum and it was really worth the visit. It is amazing what artisans could do with gold way back when and there is no getting past the fact that it is just beautiful! After that we went to the crafts shops and bought prezzies for ourselves and our loved ones. That part was really fun and I bought a couple of really cute things from a very nice nun. Apparently all the goods in her stall were made by women who were the prime bread winners in the family. She was so warm and friendly I wished I had more time to spend with her and look at her stuff. I was at the end of my budget, so buying was not really an option! We had a cup of Juan Valdez’s best and took a cab back to the hotel.

We worked a little tonight when we registered for the conference and attended the welcome session/reception at the school. It was really dark and hard to see, but it looks like the campus is massive. It is built on a hill and so I am worried about my high heel-bunion combination for tomorrow. It is really high here, altitude-wise, compared to what I am used to and I notice I am getting winded very easily. I had a massive headache yesterday and a bit of an upset stomache. It is a lot cooler here than home and I was cold enough leaving the school tonight that my teeth were shivering. I am such a wimp!

Futher proof for that is the following: When I got to the check-in at the airport to come here there was a problem with my ticket. To make a long story short, the travel agency had changed the status of my ticket to make it say reimburse. I was totally thrown by that and when no one at the airport could make that status change. I called the school. It was too close to take-off time to get a reasonable price on the ticket, so I decided not to go on the flight. R$5000 to Bogota seemed a tad high. The travel agent called back at one point and got me on a later flight. So that was fine. (This all took the better part of 3 or 4 hours and multiple telephone calls back and forth, mind you.) When I got on the plane by myself I recognized a teacher from another school in Brazil. I chatted with him briefly and then stayed to myself on the flight. So here’s where I am wimpy. I did not want to figure out on my own how to get myself to the hotel on my own. So I followed them around. First they got their luggage and I waited for them. Then they exchanged money, so I did too. (I hadn’t thought of doing that on my own.) Then I wandered around outside the airport to see if there was anyone there to take me to my hotel – there was not. So I followed the other teachers to the taxi stand. We are not in the same hotel, so I got in a cab on my own. The cabbie was nice enough and chatted to me all the way to the hotel. I understood him and thought I was in good shape with my Spanish – I am not by the way, but I can understand a lot! Phew! I tell you though, if those other people were not there to glom onto in the airport I might have had to have waited for the next gringo installment to arrive, because I was incapable of getting my butt outta there on my own. Pretty wimpy, right? Where did my travelling bravado go? Do you lose it after age 40? Let that be my second question out there to you!

One Comment leave one →
  1. Joan bertram permalink
    March 23, 2009 4:28 pm

    Thanks for the info.Sounds like you had a good time.We’re glad you got home safely.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: