When you travel to an ‘unusual’ destination, you need to put up with stereotypical comments from friends. Colombia played right into their hands.”Oooft watch you don’t get kidnapped” and “have you no’ seen Narcos?” Yeah yeah.
So, I’m sitting in a holding cell in Aeropuerto Internacional El Dorado, Bogotá. The Colombian customs officer is looking across the table at me. He’s no happy. “Hotel?” I’ve been travelling 24 hours solid, am no needing this. They won’t let me enter Colombia unless I can tell them where I’m staying. Finally I get wifi and show him an email on my fon. He’s still no happy. Getting up he motions me to follow him, back through to the passport desk. Gives my passport to the woman on the desk then walks away. She sighs and stamps my passport, hands it to me, motions…go on fuck off. Welcome to Colombia.
I’m too tired so it’s just relief that I’m feeling and then, there’s my Sean… a sight for sore eyes. Big hugs then were in a taxi heading into Bogotá, Sean speaking fluent Spanish to the driver. I’m impressed. I look out the window – love a new city but this is huge , a bit scary. I can see the lights of the shanty towns high above the city. Sean and the driver are now arguing in Spanish, I’m very impressed.
Next morning am up at 0700 local time but my body says its 1300. Sean’s sound asleep so I head out, the start of a tradition of two breakfasts every morning. Coffee and arepas are very filling and 3000 pesos – that’s about 60p ya dancer! Bogota takes your breath away, literally. Its 8361 feet above sea level. Climbing some stairs and I’m breathing deeply, not unpleasant but a strange feeling.
We get the TransMilenio into the old town, La Candeleria. I’m looking over a sea of heads. Colombians are short arses, Sean. I am a giant haha. We both get strange looks, being gringos. Sean tells me when he first arrived, he tried to look busy, walk fast like he had a purpose. You dont open up a map in Bogotá and start pointing at the architecture- you become a target.
We get the funicular up Monserrate, a 10,150 foot high peak above Bogotá. The views are sensational, 10.8 million people living in the sprawling mass of a city below. Given the cheapness, we treat ourselves to a meal in the clifftop restaurant, like a scene from a movie.
It’s a long way from Suni Duni, eh.
PS This blog is for Sean, without whom I’d never have travelled to South America. True story. And for Nahora, who looked after him.