Tuesday, 1 December 2009

First impressions of beautiful Bogota

Hello there,
This a bit of a cheat as it's taken from my previous stibbsgoestobolivia blog. I've now gone from there to Colombia.
And very nice it is too, despite first impressions...

Colombia may have a reputation as a dangerous cocktail of drug barons, paramilitaries and guerrillas but I knew things had changed. I’d seen the adverts: who could fail to be convinced by this man’s voice? Less gruffly, Susi had told me that Bogota was now safe (relatively speaking) and awash with glamorous people dripping in Louis Vuitton.

So I was expecting something pretty spectacular. When we left the airport, with trolleys bearing the bodyweight of an elephant, it was chaotic and dark. Few places look good in the dark and this was no exception.

Our private bus left as it began to rain, the surrounding buildings had the appearance of a long-neglected building site. It was comforting to see the occasional person knocking about it, until I realized there were a lot of unseasonably dressed women around. We’d found the red light district.

Even the people outside an alternative rock club looked menacing, no mean feat in de-rigeur silly hair and tight jeans. All blokes, they stared at the ridiculous vehicle we had had to commandeer—the only vehicle large enough for our unfeasible quantity of stuff.

Past the prostitutes, we slowed and stopped in the middle of nowhere. To our right, a homeless man was shouting for help as two policemen were trying to beat him into submission so they could handcuff him. To the reluctance of our disappointed driver, who was enjoying the scuffle, I insisted we left.

A little later, we pulled up again outside a rather uninspiring block of flats. The doorman stared quizzically through the dirty window at the strangers and their extraordinarily large luggage. Little did he know he’d be helping us lug it up four flights of stairs.


(I ought to point out that things have improved immeasurably since then.)

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