I returned to my favorite city in the world for two months of living my daily routine in the grungy, bustling neighborhood of Chapinero. When I wasn’t working from cafes in the area I was exploring neighboring towns in Cundinamarca like Sopó and La Fuente. With every returning visit Bogotá feels less like a destination necessitating exploration and more like a comfortable home to live a life. As for learning Spanish – I continue to improve slowly though focus is spread among other endeavors contemporaneously which serves to limit dedicated efforts. As a historically all-or-nothing person it is an exercise in little-by-little.
I was honored to host my sister and a niece and a nephew in Bogotá for a week as they celebrated their spring break with me. After hearing how much I love Colombia they were brave enough to visit; but since Bogotá is not an easy destination it required effort to show and help advocate for all the great stuff sitting beneath the trafficy, somewhat-dirty exterior. The first day of their adventure featured a stroll around grimey Chapinero, a visit to Monserrate, the historic, graffitied neighborhood of Candelaria, the Gold Museum featuring lots of artifacts from the indigenous tribes around Colombia and the national museum. A crash-course in what the next week would afford.
Day two we ventured out of the city to spend two nights out-of-town in Villa de Leyva, a charming, historic town in the neighboring department (cp state) of Boyacá, on the way stopped to visit the Salt Cathedral in Zipaquirá. Villa de Leyva is a relaxed, romantic getaway very much the opposite of busy Bogotá. We toured a variety of local attractions including an artist-created house made entirely from terra cotta, a field of stone phalluses and a very creepy old monastery. We stopped in Lake Guatavita en route back to Bogotá and ended at Andres in Chia.
Back in Bogotá we tried to find the best restaurants and attractions to keep everyone entertained and intrigued. A highlight was taking my sister to Café Gira and showing my family tejo. An unexpected surprise was the Botero museum which afforded a diverse collection of artists in a small, accessible space (and for free!). I think we succeeded in the aim of exploring Colombian culture, music and history.
It was immensely fulfilling to share a favorite destination with my family! Being able to play tour guide and explain (at least a little) the cultural context that I had come to learn and appreciate during my time here felt richer and more meaningful because I could advocate its attributes personally; in much the same way my sister did for me in Paris last summer. Hopefully I can rally the family to Croatia next?