My Monkey.

Lately I’ve been entertaining myself by drawing. Here you have a monkey wearing a shirt. I don’t know why I enjoy drawing cartoon animals so much, but I do.  You’ll also notice my nicely manicured nails, painted “blood of the bull,” much to my grandmother’s dismay.

In other news, my Aunt Elsie is visting which makes me very happy. On Monday, we walked to the center, explored la Macarena and took a stroll down Memory Lane. We went to dinner at El Corral, and Elsie met my boyfriend, who I instructed to 1.) Eat very elegantly; 2.) Be modest; 3.) Keep the conversation flowing; 4.) Be attentive and polite; 5.) Get a haircut, and 6.) To not be nervous. I think he did pretty well. On Sunday, I ended up watching the World Cup final with my friend Courtney and two of her coworkers at a Dutch-owned tapas bar. In the U.S that sort of thing would have made the local news. All these little adventures reminded how much I like to explore. It’s so easy to get comfortable in your neighborhood or town and never actually leave and discover new things.

My beloved La Macarena neighborhood. It’s like Porto, but by the mountains, not the ocean.

Things are going pretty well right now. I have a new friend who I get along with really well, my room is shaping up very nicely, I’m drawing, writing and staying organized, and I have a boyfriend who treats me very well. When I first came back here, I planned to stay about six months, but now I’m not so sure. Life gets in the way.

I really like my new neighborhood. It’s hilly and twisty and there’s a good mix of old and new. The only complaint I have is that being so high up means extremely cold nights. It gets down to about 45 degrees and there’s no heater. Every night I have to cover myself with two blankets and a comfortor and wear socks, long pants and a sweater. And even with that, it still gets cold. My neighbors seem to be a mix of long-haired homeless guys, long-haired artist guys, short, medium and long-haired gay guys, older, white-haired “old Chapinero” couples, students with severe hairstyles and earrings and young professionals. It seems like everyone in my neighborhood owns a tiny fluffy dog. The architecture is a mix of fancy-looking brick apartment buildings, 75 year-old Tudor houses and a light sprinkling of less than attractive concrete block buildings, which, no matter how beautiful the neighborhood, are relentless in their presence. I can literally walk to the mountains (not that I ever will), and there’s an atmospheric (and absurdly overpriced) cafe just half a block from my house. The cookies at my new cafe are, like most Colombian cookies, a major disappointment and the cappaccino tastes weird, but the lighting is just right and the music not too loud. Plus, most of the customers are classy-looking older ladies who wear fancy shawls, stylish glasses and smell like perfume and coffee.

My neighborhood, according to Google.

I’ve done a bit of exploring and have discovered the following within a 10 minute walk of my apartment: An Adriatic Cafe, a pizza place with free Wi-Fi (I thought about working there but writing to the smell of baking pizza is only pleasant for about five minutes), two bakeries, a farmacy, two dry-cleaners, a university, a beauty salon, a church, a theater, and two small convenience stores. As I’ve mentioned before, the first convenience store sells Runts, Nerds and Fundip, which means I am a frequent customer despite daily diet-overhaul declarations. It’s run by two women and a teenage guy. One of the women is tall and dark with died blonde hair which always looks like it was just cepillado. Her nails are painted purple and she wears tighter pants than I do, pointy black boots, plunging necklines and lots of gold jewelry. An older woman, who I’m guessing is her mom, sometimes works the register. She has that short scare-crow type hair style that stands up straight and looks like it can’t be combed down by anything or anyone.  Then there’s a boy who looks like he’s about 16, although he’s probably 30 because everyone here seems to look younger than they actually are. I always see him around the neighborhood delivering groceries. The family lives in the apartment above the “tiendita.”The grandmother is usually yelling something down to her daughter from a little window that overlooks the store. The other convenience store is run by a Christian mother-daughter team.

That’s all I have to say for now.

Categories: Bogota, Colombia

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