“Bogotá Updates” are about the lives of a Brit and a Colombian living in Chapinero Norte, enjoying Colombia’s Little Pleasures. You can also read about the time I read a speech in Spanish to Lily’s parents, our trip to the Pacific coast and coffee country
In Bogotá the taxis go 100km an hour when there’s no traffic. Uber is paying for its drivers’ fuel here, despite being illegal here. The “dish of the day” at many restaurants, normally some kind of steak, rice, beans, plantain and soup, will set you back less than £2 (see photo above). FARC and the government have all-but reached peace. And I still haven’t been mugged.
When I was first in New Orleans in 2011 some guy in the street recommended a restaurant, yelling in his thick Louisiana accent,
“Aw, shit, do you like jambalaya? ‘Cause this place does jambalaya so good it makes you wanna go home and slap yo mutha.”
Mum never made jambalaya so the point was somewhat lost on me. But, had he followed me around the last couple of days, he’d go back to NOLA telling people,
“Do you like your family helping you? ‘Cause Colombian families help you so good it makes you wanna go home and slap yo mutha.”
Just kidding, Mum.
Sort of. I mean, for the last two days Lily’s mum – who has serious rheumatoid arthritis – washed our windows, inside and out. Lily’s dad was on his hands and knees getting specks of paint off the laminate flooring. And Lily’s aunt made the 40-minute commute into Bogotá so that she could make our kitchen and bathrooms gleam.
Our dining room table, chairs, bedside table and queen-sized bed have matching wood and were custom designed/built for us by a local carpenter (see photos). And we’re otherwise ready to live here, we just need food and internet. We have an entire half of the 6th floor of a building in the cool part of town. Floor to ceiling windows. A view of the mountains on the East side, and Bogotá on the West.
Talking of bathrooms, I know you all want an update on that. We’ve bought toilet bins. I’m a little concerned with how small they are, as they’ll need quite a lot of emptying. But then, the alternative is a larger bin that will contain lots of…sessions. What would you choose? Frequent empties or a stockpile?
Best of all, my grandfather’s desk turned up! This brings to an end the single most arbitrary, bureaucratic, expensive and annoying thing I’ve ever witnessed. 2 1/2 months of paperwork, phone calls, notarise documents and extortionate bills to get it into my home office.
I found some photos and sketches, including one of my granddad, who’ll be watching over me as I work. I also found a photo of Nuno. Who (if Lily lets me) will also be watching over me somewhere in the house.
On the bad side, I’m still not really making friends, and spend much of my time socialising in silence.
I have, however, played pool with a Norwegian guy from Spanish school, who is tall, handsome, blonde, interesting and I crushed him. We went to a dive of a pool hall that had an open urinal in the same room as the tables. Pool lovers (and, I guess, “watching other men pee” lovers), you should come here: 2 hours of pool and 2 beers cost me £1.70.
What else. Lily’s dad woke us up every morning for a month with freshly squeezed fruit juice (Dad, that one’s for you). A week ago I had a conversation with a street performer in Spanish. Oh, and while shopping for bedding in Bogotá we stopped off to eat “Lechona”, a dish where you remove everything from inside a pig, shred the pork, mix it with rice, spices and other stuff, then put it all back into the pig and roast it, head still attached.
Coming up: a fridge, internet, our first food shop and fasting (read: bit of a diet). We’re also submitting our app to the app store for Apple’s approval next week, making me apprehensive but happy.
Bonus: The world’s most awkward sex shop placement…
With love from Bogotá,