Can´t even explain.......

Bogota Travel Blog

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The journey by truck to Ciudad Bolivar.

Well, I arrived in Bogota a week ago and will be leaving in two days for Aldeafeliz. The two cities are so different. For one Bogota is freakin huge.... Over 6 million people. The first four days I stayed in la candelaria, near the center and one of the oldest sections of the city. I was in two different hostals. Needless to say, I´ve had the opportunity to see lots of different hostal arrangements... Some better than others. I was in Playtipus the first night. It was dirty and really cold. The second night I switched over to Hostal Sue, where the domestica was almost neurotically clean and very nosy. The environment there was really strange and I felt totally out of place.

Ciudad Bolivar. Outside Bogota.
People travel for many different reasons.... I´ll just leave it at that.

The third evening in Bogota I attempted to contact the family of some friends that live here. The brother speaks no English and I was trying to coordinate how to get to his place just to visit. Several taxis in the street had no idea where the address was. I finally found one that said he knew. We traveled for about 20 minutes and he said this was the right address. When I got out I realized it was Calle 57 and not Carrera 57. I found a little shop open where a couple sells and repairs musical equipment. They said that this address was very far away and that the area I was in was not safe and I needed to return to la candelaria and attempt the visit during the day time. I was so frustrated.

Ciudad Bolivar. At the church before gifts are distributed to the children.
Some taxis would not stop and all others were occupied. The shop owner told me what kind of bus I could take, but the bus system here is freaky. There are no real bus stops. People see the Calle, Carrera or area they want that is posted in the window of the bus and hail the bus when it passes. The streets are a freanzy of buses and taxis swirling around each other. However, I must say although it is chaotic, Bogota is much more organized than Medellin. Medellin metro rocks. But without that, it would be hell to get around.

Anyways, I explained to the a lady in the house that I would not be able to come and that I would call the next day and the shop keeper got more precise directions from the family on how to get there. I returned to la candelaria and stayed for two more days trying to get an appointment with the FAO office.

A couple working with a cultural organization organized the trip to Ciudad Bolivar.
Which I did and it was a very fruitful meeting. I´ll write more on that later.

I attempted to call the family again and finally communicated and confirmed that I was invited to come to stay with the family for the holidays. I packed my bags and got the hell out of the hostal. The hostal called a taxi for me and explained where I wanted to go. I was off for an entirely different experience. I found myself at their house. My friends had not yet come and there plane was delayed until the next day. When I got there, only the daughters boyfriend spoke a bit of english and we were able to communicate a bit. There house had two entrances. One went directly to their house and the one adjacent went to a workshop upstairs. I dropped my bags in the house and was quickly asked to accompany the boyfriend to buy kiwi.

The crew... Fun times. On our way to Monserrate in Bogota...
We went and got two boxes-cases of kiwi, which is aguadiente mixed with the suger derived from kiwi. Upon returning I was taken upstairs where the family had just slaughtered a pig and were preparing sausages and something called chicharon - traditional pig skin. Being a vegan, it was a little disturbing to stay there and watch, but it isn´t something I haven´t seen before. Both the brothers proceeded on a mission to get me totally plastered. I don´t know how many beers and shots of kiwi I drank. One of my friends sons had arrived with his girlfriend from the airport later than night and the family and friends were over to party. We danced like mad and drank a fucking ton. I passed out somewhere around 2 or 3 in the morning. I was so sick the next day.
View of Bogota from Monserrate.
..all day. We woke up early the next morning to pick up my friends/their family from the airport. The plane was delayed several times from Panama and finally arrived about 4 hours later. We got back to the house and the reunion commenced. I was invited stay with a friend of the family who had more room at her house as there was so many people in the brothers home. 

The next day a group of us set out on an adventure to Ciudad Bolivar, which is part of Bogota, but like 40 minutes to an hour away. This barrio is incredibly poor where there is a landfill apparently toxic leaving many people with a variety of infermities. We ventured out first by taxi, arrived at a university to wait for one lady that was coordinating the day. She finally arrived and we took a bus to another area where we got out and waited for the lady´s husband. From there we walked a ways to meet the group that had the truck that was to take us and boxes of clothes and toys to be distributed. We all climbed in back of the truck and set off into the mountains to Ciudad Bolivar. The land was spectacular, but the settlement which were people who invaded the land and built on it, was incredibly poor. We first ventured to a part of Ciudad Bolivar, which has nearly 1 million people leaving there. We went to a newly constructed community center to distribute the clothes. Later in the day we journeyed to another part of the city to a church. There this lady and her husband work with a cultural group that performed some dances and afterwards we distributed toys. The whole experience was eye opening. A lot of mixed emotions and a lot of information to process. Half the time I didn´t know what was going on because of the language, but just went with the flow.

On the 24th, I stayed with the kids in the morning. I finally got my clothes washed by the help of the domestica who cooked a meal that I could actually eat. The food rocked and was happy to eat a complete veggie meal. The domestica couldn´t understand my eating requirements and it was the topic of much discussion. Later,  the grandaughers mother came around and we first went to her house to pick up some gifts. Later, we met up with the family at the brothers house.  They had killed the other two pigs the day before and were making the final preparations for the big meal that night. I was the gringa slave whose job it was to mix the natilla in big pot as it cooked. We danced a bit, ate and drank and prepared the food as they were setting up for the big street party downstairs.

We later went downstairs to the house to watch a video of the grandfather, which was taken several months ago right before he passed away. There was a lot of tears and reminiscing. For most of the family this was their first time together in nearly 11 years.

Less than an hour passed, when my other friends/ their other son and his wife arrived from the airport as a surprise... What an awesome experience to be a part of such a different kind of Christmas all together. We returned upstairs for more drinking, dancing and eating. Soon we were out in the street with the rest of the neighborhood. The whole experience totally rocked. Met a cute boy who was a friend of the family and danced with him a lot. We partied all night and I partly passed out around 4 or 5 in the morning. The music never stopped. Around 8 I woke up freazing and wanting coffee. We hung around for about 2 more hours and the music and dancing was still going on. Colombians know how to party. We finally left around 10 or 11 and the music was still heavy, the street cleared a bit with a lot of drunk people remaining.

Probably one of the most memorable Christmas´ I´ll ever have. They want me to stay around until the new year as they all have been invited to a little pueblo about three hours away. I haven´t decided if I want to go or not. Kinda of feel like I should head out, but also think this is a great opportunity to experience something new.

Either way, I´ll be leaving for Aldeafeliz before the new year. I really do feel I need to spend the new year doing what I´ll be doing for the next year. There is some personal attention I need to give myself and some further soul searching that I feel is on the horizon.

MarksterinFL says:
Wow...that's a slightly different Christmas experience than what you would have had back home! Kudos to you for having the attitude to take what comes and enjoy... attitude IS everything when it comes down to it. Do you have the Lat/Long for Aldeafeliz (or a nearby city)? I was trying to find it on Google Earth and Aldeafeliz and it isn't listed.
Posted on: Jan 06, 2008
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The journey by truck to Ciudad Bol…
The journey by truck to Ciudad Bo…
Ciudad Bolivar. Outside Bogota.
Ciudad Bolivar. Outside Bogota.
Ciudad Bolivar. At the church befo…
Ciudad Bolivar. At the church bef…
A couple working with a cultural o…
A couple working with a cultural …
The crew... Fun times. On our way …
The crew... Fun times. On our way…
View of Bogota from Monserrate.
View of Bogota from Monserrate.
photo by: caliphil007