August 14, 2006

Cold in the Capital
Bogotá, Colombia

Another cup of hot chocolate, please.

The city of Bogotá, founded in 1538, is absolutely massive. Some 7.8+ million people live in the greater metropolitan area, an area of which I'll only see a small part of. My hostel, the famous Platypus, is in a part of town that reminds me of Manhattan in late October. A cool wind whips down urban streets, lined with tall concrete buildings and panhandlers.

I really enjoy the way people dress here; everyone looks so sharp and put together. The population in this area knows how to dress smartly—layers are fun. Too bad my selection of clothing has left me chilled to the bone. I generally have Caribbean garb with me, and have been suffering during the evenings and on those artic 10-hour bus rides. I'm wearing socks and shoes again—my feet are still cold, but suffocating.


There's an absence of street food here in this part of Bogotá, but I've found some little restaurants that, for US$1, give me huge meals (think a big bowl of soup, a salad, and a large main course). I'm also enjoying my first hot shower for the first time since Costa Rica. The water coming out of the pipe in my hotel room in Bucaramanga would literally take my breath away every time I touched it.



You can't help but notice the abnormally large buses on certain streets here. After 30 years of studies and planning, Bogotá decided to scrap their urban metro project and introduce a bus service called TransMilenio. The buses get their own street lines, complete with guarded terminals. It seems to be a decent alternative.


I enjoy talking with travelers, and many here in Colombia are at the end of their Latin American journeys. Lots of people seem to begin their trips in Buenos Aires (BA), the capital of Argentina.

Inevitably I always ask the question, "so is Argentina everything I hear it's made out to be?" The answer always comes back the same—yes. I have yet to hear a single negative aspect—I've asked dozens of people.

I'm salivating at the thought of drinking my weight in red wine; eating big, cheap steaks; and enjoying a European city with Latin American prices. I get antsy just thinking about it.

Travelers get stuck in Argentina. A week turns into a month… and those are folks with fixed/limited vacation time limits. As someone without an itinerary, I wonder how long I'll end up there myself.

It's interesting here in Bogotá, but I hear the (warmer) Colombian city of Medellín calling my name. The clock is ticking on my visa; I expect make the frigid bus trip in the next day or two.

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