I honestly didn’t know what to expect going into Colombia. Everyone I’d met who has been there said wonderful things: that it was beautiful, interesting and diverse. Everyone I’d met who hadn’t been there immediately started talking about cocaine and narco-terrorism. Although I patiently explained that Colombia is much safer now then it was ten years ago and that the bad people were easily avoided, the truth was I didn’t really know what I’d find either.
First stop: Bogota, for an entire month of working, exploring and hanging out with my new four legged friend Dexter, a bull dog with an underbite to die for.
Bogota is a big modern city that in many ways isn’t all that different from the United States. It has nearly the population of New York City and is one of the top 30 largest cities in the world. It’s not a tall city like New York though, from our balcony view, low apartment buildings spread out into the vast smoggy distance. In the distance on every side are rolling hills. The weather is constantly that of an overcast October day.
Oh yes and it’s LOUD. From our tenth story bedroom we can hear horns blasting, sirens clanging and the occasional unplaceable house music down on the street below. Construction work, random loudspeakers and the zip zip of deranged taxi drivers (seriously: I thought China was bad but I had no idea). They are disruptive sounds but strangely comforting: they are big city sounds.
In the 1990’s Bogota was one of the most dangerous cities in the world, but walking around over the past week we’ve felt pretty safe. Part of it is that we’re staying in one of the ritziest neighborhoods (and definitely not trying to wander into any bad parts of town), but it’s also true that Bogota has done a lot to clean up it’s act over the years. Aside from pick-pocketing and mugging we’ve been told we don’t have to worry too much.
Another thing about Bogota is it’s really high up- like, in altitude. It’s taken some getting used to- I don’t like getting winded going up the stairs and accidentally napping all afternoon! As a result we haven’t done much sightseeing yet: that will be on the agenda for next week. In the meantime I’m acclimating myself to South America (and yes, practicing my Spanish).