After a long day of traversing the upper atmosphere, I have finally arrived at my long awaited destination. Here’s the nitty gritty on how it all went down:
11-20: 6 hours of extreme heat and smelliness on the airplane to Panama City, leaving LAX at 1:15 in the morning. I was seated in the middle of a row, squished by a man who should have, in an ideal world, had two seats—hell, give the fucker a whole damn row—to himself. His gargantuan legs couldn’t fit in the small space normally allocated to the average sized human being, and thus were pressed against mine the entire time, compounded further by his annoying tendency to commence waving them from side to side. Another pleasurable trait which this man possessed was that he farted continuously throughout the flight, and due to the aforementioned air-conditioniong problems with the plane, I could smell it quite clearly as soon as he had cut it. To add to this general bombardment of the senses, the blanket which I was given for the flight also smelled extremely rank.
Anyway, so long story short, I didn’t get a wink of sleep on this night flight. Switched to another smaller, functioning-air-conditioner plane in Panama City for the next hour to Bogotá. There at the airport, I was met by my parents, who were already in the city for my Colombian cousin’s wedding. (“There was a lot of salsa dancing!” said they about the wedding.) Exhausted and jet lagged, my girlfriend and I were then led into great exhibition, by my parents, of How To Be The Most Gringo Tourist On The Planet. I don’t really care to get into all the gruesome details of the ensuing nightmare that was the debacle of my parents attempting to sort-of speak Spanish and hail a taxi. Suffice to say that they got ripped off a good solid 3 times before we even made it to the hotel.
However, the hotel is quite plush (in comparison to where we will be staying when we are on our own) with a great view of the hills and overlooking Monserrate. I’m trying to enjoy the space and privacy while I can, and endure the overbearing gringoism of my parents with as much grace and gritted teeth as I can. The benefits are that we get some free meals at some upscale restaurants that we would never have attended otherwise.
First impressions of Bogotá: much like Lima, except with lush greenery and better architecture. Although it is dirty and gas-fume-permeated like any other large Latin American city, it has a sense of cleanliness to it, which I think is due to the large amounts of rain, which washes some of the pollution away from immediate visibility. There also seems to be less obvious examples of extreme poverty in the main parts of the city. Like Lima, the women are tightly clad in jeans or pantalones, such that you wonder how the ass cheeks managed to be squeezed through the top of the pants so that they could be encased so perfectly. Also like Lima, the traffic is noisy and death defying, and Colombianos are packed like sardines into Korean mini-buses that skirt like racecars around corners.
As soon as we arrived at our hotel, we showered off the accumulated oils and farts from our skin and slept until 9 (Colombian time—only three hours ahead of West Coast time). We awoke hungry, but were still slightly trepidatious about venturing out into the darkened alien streets in our jetlagged and hapless state. We also knew that we were in the banking, business district, and that most restaurants were closed by 9. We walked out anyway, past the ubiquitous semi-automatic machine gun armed soldiers standing on the corners, and stumbled into a happy coincidence: Argentina and Colombia had a futbol match, and all self-respecting Colombianos were watching any TV available (we had passed by a congregation of people on the street watching a small TV next to a bus stop). So we found a cafe-hole-in-the-wall a block away that was still open due to the game, in which Colombianos were drinking beer and affixed avidly to 2 TV screens, which were color-warped and hazy from time and chicken cooking fumes. We ordered 2 arroz con pollo dishes, which turned out to be massive, and enjoyed our first cheap comida criolla, eating only a 1/4th of a dish each. When Colombia scored the goal over Argentina, the place went crazy. One man in a suit stood up and pumped his arms up and down at the TV and shouted effusively in short, barking spurts for a good couple of minutes. We then stumbled satiated like blood-fattened mosquitoes back to our hotel and fell asleep for the rest of the night.