Saturday, May 18, 2013

Bogota - first impressions

I have arrived! I landed in Bogota this afternoon and made my way into the city by taxi. I am staying at the Anandamayi Hostel which is ridiculously beautiful.  It is an old colonial house surrounding three courtyards filled with hammocks, little ponds, flowering trees, and hummingbird likd creatures.  My room is whitewashed with rustic wood beams. There are shared bathrooms and a rustic kitchen for guests to cook and take breakfast.  It appears to be run by young women who are very helpful but do not speak English.  This is all very charming and i can't wait to end the day in a hammock looking at the stars.

Anandamayai Hostel Yard
After settling in i went for a wander thorugh the Caldalaria district (where my hostel is), which is the historic part of town.

I walked through the Bolivar plaza, which is surrounded by statley government buildings and filled with buskers, protesters, fruit sellers, and llamas. Llamas everywhere! They are probably just brough in for tourists to take photos of, but still: llamas! Not surpisingly i walked all afternoon through the streets of this neighborhood.  The streets are rough, shabby, dirty and filled with dangerous holes, but they are also lined with beautifully colored colonial-style buildings with balconies and flowers; many of these buildings housing tiny cafes and bodeags.  There are vendors everywhere selling candy, cigarettes, fruit, corn, and fresh juice.  I have seen numerous groups of buskers playing what i can old call colombian style salsa.  It is terrific. One of the groups attracted a group of old men in suits who were salsa dancing solo for almost an hour for a crowd of onlookers.  It was very entertaining.

horse in Bolivar Plaza

Bolivar Plaza
I tried a few Colombian treats today.  I went to a famous cafe called La Puerta Falsa and had Chocolate Completo, which is dark hot chocolate served with bread and butter and white cheese. You tear off pieces of the cheeese and put it in the hot chocolate until it gets all melty and then you eat it with a spoon and dunk in the bread and butter. Marvellous. I can't believe i have never had this before.  I also tried some new fruit. No idea what it was but it was hard and fibrous and orange and served with honey. I didn't care for it. For dinner i bought an arepa con queso from a street vendor cooking them over coals and had a chicha, which is a type of corn based beer. I don't like beer, but this is quite different and i thoguht i should try it. It doesn´t taste anything like beer, but more like a thick fermented bready grog.  It wasn´t bad, but i don´t think i would have it again.  I smoked a lovely partagas torpedo on a street called the Funnel, which is a narrow, colorful street, filled with bars and cafes and young kids drinking beer and smoking in the street.

The city has so much amazing graffiti. Certainly some of it is just sloppy but much of it is amazing and ranges from whimsical to political. On the note of art, i visited the Botero museum today, which features, Botero's bright, obese figures but also a good collection of art by picasso, ernst, etc. It was small but very impressive.


calle del embudo graffiti
So far i have not encountered anyone who speaks ensligh, including the women who run the hostel, so i am relying on my rudimentary spanish, complemented by lots of smiling and nodding.

Ok, that is sort of a jumbled introduction, but i have only been here a half a day and am suffering from a combination of mild jet lag and mild altitude sickness, which has manifested itself in a headache. I think i might go out and see if the area is a dangerous as everyone suggested.

I will write again tomorrow. Sorry for the typos. i am not proof reading and it is a weird keybaord.
That is all for now.
street in Candelaria, Bogota

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