Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Love-Hate Guide to Bogotá

Bogotá is like many capital/large cities in South America (see: Buenos Aires, São Paulo): born and bred natives think it's the best place in the world, whereas everyone else in the country tends to think it's pretty much the worst.

Or at least they say it's the worst: non-bogotanos love talking shit about Bogotá, about the terrible weather, about how unfriendly the people are (unfriendly for Colombia, that is), about the insufferable bogotano accent (uy chino), about the stratospheric prices and the congested traffic and, above all else, about how bogotanos think they are the greatest thing since sliced bread and how they can't dance. at all. 

And then they all move to Bogotá, because that's where the jobs are. 

Or, at a minimum, they end up going to Bogotá fairly frequently because Colombia continues to be a very centralized country and they need an international visa or their companies are based in Bogotá or because there is a Red Hot Chili Peppers/Paul McCartney/Beyonce concert that they can't bear to miss.

Last week, I found myself in Bogotá because that is where the Foreign Relations Ministry is, and I, of course, am a foreigner. Let's not pretend that fun things happen at the Foreign Relations Ministry; I won't say that anything I did last Friday was even remotely pleasant; for all intents and purposes I have erased it from my memory.  

I will say this, though: Bogotá is too cold for me, and I have some serious hate for the heavy metal culture that currently predominates, but after the bureaucratic trials and tribulations were over, we had a really nice weekend.  

We ate ajiaco at a place that proclaimed to have "The Best Ajiaco in the World," and very well might. We walked around the colonial Candelaria neighborhood and went into the (free) Botero museum. We went to the central market and ate ginormous fruit salads overflowing with shredded cheese and sweetened condensed milk (ugh, so good), and then we went to this amazing seafood restaurant/market that is so popular that traffic was stopped outside as people pulled into its parking lot. We spent a drizzly afternoon in Usaquén over coffee and cake. It was nice. 

Throw in the fact that many, many of our friends from Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro are currently living in Bogotá, and by Sunday night, Felipe, Sr. I Hate Bogotá, was letting it slip that maybe it wouldn't be so bad to live in Bogotá for a year or so. 

Or maybe it would be, but it can be quite a nice place to visit. 

Antigua SantaFe
Calle 11, No. 6-20
Candelaria, Bogotá

Coctel del Mar
Calle 69, No. 17-60, 2º piso

Museo Botero
Call 11, No. 4-11
Candelaria, Bogotá

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