The First Day

by

It’s around 630 am here. This keyboard is a little whack, as in it is not what I’m used to, so forgive any obvious errors.

Yesterday, I arrived in Bogota around 1230 pm local time. On the taxi ride to my hostel, a strange thing occurred: the driver, a round woman, asked if we could stop to get gas. After double checking that was what she really said, I said ok. Then, at the gas station, she told me I had to get out of the car while the gas was being filled. I said ok, but was a little wary. The gas station attendant took the pump, and put it in some tank underneath the hood. Strange, I had never seen something like that before. To put this mystery to rest for you all, I later found out the reason this strange gas filling technique was used is because many of the cars here are powered by natural gas, not gasoline. Natural gas is not liquid, so I guess a professional “gas-attendant” is necessary t0 make sure nothing goes to waste.

By the way, this coffee I’m sipping down at the moment is quite potent and tasty.

Ok, I’ll try to do a narrative of my first day.

I got into the taxi and the ride took approximately 30 minutes. Big, rugged mountains surround about half of the city. I noticed the sweet fragrance of a big south american city with tons of buses and cars spewing out noxious brown air. Yeah, it doesn’t smell good here. My hostel is located on a narrow, hilly cobblestoned street. I put my bag down, and took to the streets to buy some cigarrettes and take it all in.

The cigarrette selection here is very limited. There are only about 5 brands available. No one, not even the Europeans or Canadians, know what Parliament is. I guess I’m stuck with Marlboro Lights. I walked around the neighborhood that my hostel is located in. Teenage/Early twenties Colombians were all about, hanging in groups of 3 to 5. I smoked a cigarette, then remembered that I was hungry. And guess what I ate?! Pizza. A strange pizza, with corn, sausage, and a bunch of other things I didn’t recognize. A colombian chick in the pizzeria stared me down, and I heard her and this guy mutter “grandote” which roughly translates as big motherfucker”. Take out the fucker. Yeah, I think since March 27th Colombia has a new tallest person: me. Did I mention I had a couple of beers by then and felt absolutely nothing? The beer here is, like cigarrettes, limited. Three brands, all less than 5 percent alcohol. Darn.

As I chomped down the pizza, I started speaking to the guy next to me. He was “policia turismo” tourist police. A friendly guy. I asked him if this area was safe. He said “during the day, yes, but at midnight you have to go out with friends” Apparently, the thieves like to target lone gringos, or women gringas specifically. Kind of like a wolf targeting the baby or injured elk. Anyway, my point is that I do not look like a baby or injured elk since I am the largest human being in this country. Kudos to me! I joke I joke. Then, it started to rain buckets and I had no “paraguas”, as an umbrella is called here.

Inside the pizzeria(by the way, the slice was big and only cost a dollar), I waited for the rain to calm down and tentatively walked out into the rain to find a bar. I was thirsty for some alcohol for some reason. I got to a bar, drank some more useless beers and found out one can’t really smoke indoors here. I then went back to the hostel and went into the lounge to chat it up with some fellow gringos.

The people at the table in the lounge consisted of an Australian, a Finn, another Australian, a Canadian(quebec). We exchanged travel stories, etc. The one australian, a girl named Rachael who speaks no spanish and is blond haired and blue eyed, had already been traveling in south america for two months. She also had seen a bit of Cololmbia, all by herself. Pretty impressive, and should give all you worriers out there some comfort that Colombia is, after all, not that dangerous. We chain smoked, drank beer, then chain smoked some more. Then, at about 7 pm, we went to go get dinner for less than 2 dollars and then walked down Carrera 7, a wide street that is closed to vehicular traffics on Friday night for the enterntainment pleasure of Bogotans. It was pretty cool.

The street was packed with people, and what was on display in the street was like an informal carnival of sorts. As we walked down the street, with my hand firmly attached to my wallet, there were patches of people clumped together watching something or betting on something. The first something of note was a Guinea Pig race. There were about 7 fat guinea pigs lined up, and at the other end there were about 10 little huts. Everyone put money on each hut, betting that their hut would be the one that the guinea pig would run into. Strange, but cool. We continued on down the street. There were comedians telling their jokes(spanish was too fast to understand) and fire breathing/juggling performers. There was a midget singing, and three adolescent colombian girls asked me if i was part of the act(i guess as a contrast to the midget).

We walked further, and a comedian noticed me and said something about gringos with a smile. I even bet money on a game where one tries to kick a small soccer ball from about 10 feet away to knock down a pyramid of coffee cups. I put in 500 pesos, with the chance of winning 2000. I didn’t even come close to hitting it. Finally, and probably the coolest thing I saw that night, was the break dancers. There were about 6 of them, and they could sure move. I mean do a handstand with one arm and jump around with that one arm in a circle. After that, we basically walked back down the street back to the Hotel.

I went to the lounge, drank some rum, and realized the cheap dinner I had earlier was not sufficient. It was about 10 p.m. and I walked 1 minute up the street to a fast food colombian restaurant. I ordered an Arepa. It was so damn delicious. An arepa is two corn pancakes, greasy as hell, with your choice of chicken or steak in the middle. With that chicken, there was cheese and some other great tasting things. I devoured it. I liken the Arepa to Colombian’s version of our great Cheeseburger. Hopefully, my stomach holds up against the coming storm of adapting to foreign microbes.

Today will be a sightseeing whirlwind. Until next time, have a good day, America.

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One Response to “The First Day”

  1. J-Cuffs Says:

    Bryannnn, we miss you already! But I’m glad you’re having an awesome time it sounds great. Keep us updated on your adventures, tall gringo man.

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