So I’m back from Bogotá. It was a nice relaxing vacation, consisting mostly of hanging out with my grandma, going on long walks with my sister and lots and lots of telenovela watching. It was nice to hang out with my grandma, my grandma’s old lady friends and my great aunts, as well as my Irish friend Stephen who I haven’t seen in at least three years (and who apparently still loves Colombia), and my former Caleno roommate from when I lived in el Centro right after I moved to Bogotá. Unfortunately, one week just wasn’t enough time to see all the people I would have liked to see, but now I know that next time I need at least two weeks in Colombia so I have enough time for socializing with the under 80 crowd and traveling and exploring…it definitely would have been nice to travel down the mountain to a small town in tierra caliente! But I have to say that Bogota was sunnier and warmer than it ever was when I lived there…in fact, it barely rained and I actually got sunburned! This time around, I spent a lot of time exploring the north with my sister. I would have liked to visit some of my favorite Bogota neighborhoods, including Chapinero Alto, el Centro and la Macarena, but I wasn’t able to, partly because of my short stay and partly because of my grandmother’s intense fear of Bogota south of Calle 70. Oh well, there’s always next time! When I left Bogotá in 2011 I was so ready to leave that I kind of forgot how enjoyable, fascinating and amazing Colombia can be, but this trip helped me appreciate Colombia — and Bogotá — again, and I hope I have the chance to go back in the not so distant future.
After spending a week surrounded by noise — my grandmother’s TV at full blast, the chatter of my grandmother’s friends, horns blaring, buses screeching — the silence back at my apartment was overwhelming. And I don’t just mean auditory silence…Bogota smells like diesel and cleaning products with the occasional whiff of fried food and slightly decomposing trash; Northern Virginia smells like…nothing. And it’s less colorful, less chaotic and less layered. So clean and well-planned. When I got to my apartment, the silence and aloneness was so overwhelming — and unsettling, actually — that I drove over to my parents’ house the very next morning and spent all day there hanging out with my parents, aunt and of course, Alfie. How very Colombian of me. When I got back to my apartment, it was still too silent, so I took a four-hour nap and then invited myself over to my friend Rasha’s house. But I’ve been back for a couple of days now and the tranquility of my silent old apartment is comfortable again; I’m back in my old routine…my commute to work listening to NPR, an eight-hour workday (I do get to speak Spanish all day, so that’s nice), lunch time walks in nature, YouTube workout sessions, bland, half-hearted meals (no-hearted, actually), too many episodes of House of Cards on Netflix…it’s great.
But in bold and bright celebration of my trip to Bogotá, here are some flowers/vegetation from the Bogotá Botanical Gardens…I think I was trying to channel Georgia O’Keeffe here, so lots of close ups. These are all roses, orchids or giant leaves.