Monday, September 13, 2010

Para: Bogotá


¿Como te digo todo lo que siento, todo lo que pienso, y todo lo que he vivido en tus calles?

Yo llegué aqui a Colombia para vivir, para conocer, para empezar la otra epoca de mi vida. Cuando llegué, yo pensé en vivir en Medellín, aunque no la conocía. Pero, Bogotá, desde el primer dia, me tenías. Yo estaba encantada con todo lo que veía, los parques, la gente, las montañas a tus lados, tus obras de arte a todos lados, tus barrios, y la vida. Nunca yo había pensado que eres así, tan linda, con tanta vida.

Despues de solo unos dias, me enamoré con una de las personas que has creado. Me enamoré totalmente, y yo decidí a quedarme en tus brazos. Yo podía sentir una vida para mi en Bogotá.

Yo conseguí mi propio apartamento, y todas las cosas. Yo corré por toda la ciudad para llenar mi vida con tus cosas. Como pasa el tiempo, yo viví, yo conocí, y yo aprendí contigo. Yo tuvé la oportunidad para tener un buen trabajo, uno de los sueños. Tambien, yo busqué un doctor para curarme de mi enfermedad misteria. Yo estaba enamorada. Todo me pareció bien.

Pero, la vida tiene su manera, y la vida para mi aqui en las calles y carreras de Bogotá tiene así mismo. Cosas malas empezaron a llegar. Unas de las cosas mas feas de toda mi vida pasó aqui en Bogotá. Sabes lo que es. Yo no siento que tienes la culpa, Bogotá, nadie tiene la culpa. Pero, yo sufrí demasiado de esto. Mi relación empezó a caerse. Mi oportunidad para trabajar estaba aún muy lejos del tiempo. Y tus ladrones y criminales me atacaron tres veces en tres semanas. Yo decidí a irme a mi pais para pasar un rato, trabajar, relajarme, y pensar en mi vida. Yo pasé el mejor tiempo alla.

Durante este tiempo en EU, tambien mucho cambió. Yo sabía que ya no podía vivir en tus calles, con tu gente. Se cayó mi relacion con tu hijo, y con eso yo sentí que se cayó toda mi vida en Bogotá. Ya no estoy tan encantada con tu gente, me ha mostrado que no tiene respeto de uno al otro.

Bogotá, me has dado unas cosas muy bonitas, y muy feas. Estoy tan cansada de los cambios de la vida que me vienen siempre, ¿pero, que hago? No me puedo quedar contigo, no me has abrazado como te abracé. En la realidad, yo no sé lo que tiene mi futuro, pero por ahora, yo sé que no tiene mas de ti. Yo no quería que nos despidamos así, con mucha tristeza en mi córazon. De verdad, yo quería vivir años en tus brazos, con tu hijo, y todo más que tienes para ofrecer a alguien. Tengo que irme.

Me has cambiado Bogotá. Me has enseñado un monton. Me has mostrado otro lado de la vida. Yo sé que yo necesite años para entender lo que significas en mi vida, por que yo viví lo que viví aqui. Tambien, yo sé que no te vas. Te vas a quedar aqui en los Andes hasta el fin del mundo. Yo sé que podré volver en cualquier momento. Hasta entonces, gracias por todo Bogotá. Aunque no me diste lo que pensaba, no siento nada de odio por ti, poca tristeza, pero nada de odio.

Nos vemos Bogotá. Ciao.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Don´t worry, I haven´t been robbed, surprisingly enough. This is what my apartment looks like after the Colombianos had their way with purchasing my things.

With my decision to leave Bogotá, I find myself needing to sell all of my things that I ran all over the city to buy only a short eight months ago. However, it has turned out to be more entertaining and much faster than I could have hoped. I decided the best way to go about the quick-sale of my goods was to post advertisements in various locations around the barrio. However what ensued made these advertisements totally unnecessary.

Before obtaining my own apartment here in Bogotá, I stayed at an old hotel near to where I eventually lived. Naturally I befriended the staff, namely an old man named Jorge who is the manager. As I posted the ads, I stopped by the hotel to tell Jorge that I am leaving town and needed to sell my things. He said he would let people know, and I bid good afternoon. Five minutes later Jorge calls me and tells me that one of the young men that works at the hotel was interested in the stove I was selling. I promptly returned to the hotel to chat with a cute 18-year-old Luis(not like that, but I thought about it, I'm still thinking about it). I quoted Luis a price for the stove the gas tank and all necessary connections. Luis and Jorge said they would come over the next morning and look at the things.

As I was dreaming about Cristiano Ronaldo the next morning, my phone rang and Jorge told me that he and Luis were on their way over. Upon arrival, Luis dismanteled the stove, disconnected the gas and decided to buy my set of pots and pans, all of my dishes and utensils, and the small table and benches I also had. Sweet! Whilst Luis made a few trips back and forth to his nearby apartment, Jorge and I chatted. We discussed the price of my small fridge among other things.

When this all ended, Jorge and Luis left and a few minutes later, my neighbor Jaime knocked on the door. He wanted to come in and look at what was remaining as to advise the neighbors that the gringa is splitting town and liquidating the goods! Jaime looked around and left. Minutes later, Jorge calls, says he is on his way over because he knows someone who wants the fridge. Jorge arrives and hangs out again, during which time I give him some small gifts for helping me out. The fridge purchasers never arrived so Jorge left, promising to return. Then Jaime arrives yet again with one of my other neighbors. She is very interested in a mirror and shelf set I had, I quote her an insanely low price at which she jumps. She takes the things and returns shortly after with the $15,000 Colombian pesos($8). Another knock at the door, Jorge is back, he hands over the loot for the fridge and takes off yet again, securing the purchase and making my day.

In the meantime the husband of a couple whom are also neighbors of mine shows up at the door asking about the bed, Jaime is with him. I am selling the bed complete with the pillows, blankets, sheets, matress, frame, the whole package; easy for all. The man looks at the bed and I quote him the price. He, in a very Colombian manner, tells me that he will pay all cash up front so I should bring the price down a little bit for him. Duh, of course you are going to pay me all cash, up front, there is no other choice here. However the price will not come down as it´s already a great deal. He said his wife will want to see the bed and that I should stop by their little store later to have her come look. Ok. During all of this Jaime is hanging out and taking in the negociations, he asks me the price for the fridge. Already sold brother, too little, too late.

Neighbor guy and Jaime leave. Phone rings, Jorge is calling to tell me the two young men from the hotel are on their way to pick up the fridge. I wait for them and a few minutes later they knock the door. Luis and Adrian enter, cousins from the coast of Colombia, costeños with an accent nearly impossible to understand. The have arrived with a dolly to take the fridge, but ask me what else I have to sell. The cousins take a look around and decide to buy my remaining mirror, a shelf for clothing and my electrified shower head(a necessity for heating the water in a land with no water heaters). I tell them no problem, and that I will let them know when to come pick up these things as I still need them to live for my last week in Bogotá. This left me with only one table(pictured above), and my bed.

A completely crazy Welsh friend of mine who has made himself a life here in Bogotá tells me he wants my uber-cherry mattress. I tell him I want to sell the bed as a whole so he should pay me for my mattress and give me his making it possible to both sell the bed as a complete set and to lower the price. I see it all coming together. This is genius.

This morning I went to the tienda of the couple wanting the bed. They come over and look at the bed again, this time wifey comes along. I tell them I am going to swap the mattress, but that it will take a lot off of the price. They eat it up. I have sold my bed. The wife is so excited she wants to pay me now, to which the husband and I both say no. The bed is theirs, they also want my last little table, and we will talk again next week when we will exchange money for goods. No deposit necessary though it is hard to believe anything that any Colombian says. I can only hope for the best, but I also know where to find them and I have learned how to give proper Colombian guilt should they decide to back out.

Just like that. One day and the Bogotanos eat up my stuff. I guess being a friendly spanish-speaking gringa can get you more than harassement. Jorge is the best damn seller of anything I´ve ever seen and I´m convinced that once the word was out in the barrio amongst the gossipy Colombians, my stuff was as good as sold. Colombians are good for something besides coffee, emeralds and cocaine. They are also good for off-loading used goods at record speed.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Back to Bogsy-babes.

This post is more for my own self-help therapy purposes than anything.

Did three months pass just like that?! Yes, they did and I'm back in Bogotá. It is still as cloudy as I remember. I arrived without a hitch and all in my apartment has proven to have stayed put. Amazing in this land of ladrones. But I'm grateful. . .always grateful to win the battle with thieves the world over.

In the few hours I have been back I am reminded of all the little charming things that made me choose to stay in this city in the first place. The cute old ladies selling empanadas and tinto on the street, Janet at the bakery, my neighbors(all of whom have been delighted to see me again), the market, my few friends, the mountains, the broken sidewalks, the narrow streets of the old colonial neighborhood in which I live, the list could go on. I am surrounded by all of the things that are easily forgotten when one is away for so long. The noises of the streets resounding in the barrio; the street dogs, always street dogs, children everywhere, 18-year-old police everywhere(can also qualify as children), the roller skate sized taxis on every street and corner, the fruit vendors. Bogotá is special. And how could I have forgotten how cute the Colombianos are?! Seriously now, hot brown Colombians everywhere!

And I am also feeling that my heart is right in telling me that my days here are coming to an end. As smitten as I am yet again by Bogotá, I no longer see this place through the same innocent eyes as I did in my first weeks and months here. I have had enough bad experiences with street crime and with the dysfunctional Colombian society and culture as a whole. Getting older and living life sometimes sucks because it can show some really ugly things in really amazing places. Colombia has a long way to go and will likely never totally escape its violent ways. I have also had enough experiences with the Colombian people to know that I do not want to struggle on a daily basis to feel even the slightest bit accepted or understood by them. Their lack of exposure to foreigners has left the Colombian people unable to function in a healthy manner regarding tourists. The staring, the being a target for harassment or crime, the people who ask to take pictures with you or just take them anyway, the general lack of respect that Colombians have for each other and all people in general. Another stressful factor for this laid back Westerner is the obsessive madness(some call it Latino passion)with which they deal with every single daily situation. Colombians deal with all things with some degree of drama, usually totally unnecessary drama. All of this leads to a degree of dysfunction that I am chosing to no longer live with.

It's sad to me because I am very charmed by Bogotá. It's inexplicable, there is just a magic to this place through all the grime. But I have been there, done that, and I even have the Homero Valdez t-shirt to prove it.

Will I travel in Latin America again? There is no doubt in my mind that I will come back to Latin America. I will even very likely be back to Colombia and to Bogotá at some point. Traveling in a place and living in a place are worlds apart. A huge plus for me as well is my ability to speak the language, and the fact that at least I won't be confused when the Colombianos act crazy.