Friday, April 12, 2013

Visiting Chang in Bogota, Colombia (Day 1)

After leaving Miami, I flew to Bogota, where I would primarily spend my time in Colombia.  However, I would only be staying for one night at first, before flying the next day to Cartagena for the weekend.  My old SFSU college roommate, Chang (a "Coreano Colombiano" = Korean-Colombian), met me at the airport and showed me around his part of Bogota, far away from the historic center.  Here's what we did.

I hadn't been to South America for two years, which might not be long in other people's books, though it is in mine.  Seeing the northernmost part of South America, and realizing it was only a three hour flight from Miami, was pretty unusual, too.

Bogota lies in the Andes, at an elevation around 8,500 ft.  It's tropical in name and latitude only.

Chang, a welcome sight.  He defies every preconceived notion of what a Colombian is supposed to look like, but when he speaks Spanish, he blends right in.  However, when we walked around town together, people assumed that I was the Spanish speaker and he was the foreigner.  Kinda ironic.

Chang's casa, in northwestern Bogota.

Chang's room, complete with a South Korean flag, Jimi Hendrix and John Coltrane posters, and a photo of the Golden Gate Bridge.  Oh, and an unmade bed.  ;-)

Chang's mom, Sophia, is one of the nicest people I've ever met.  When Chang and I were roommates, she didn't know English very well.  In the last decade, she's taken several classes from a Colombian school, and subsequently her English was at the high end of "conversational."  After posing for this photo, she went with us around the corner to the local mall, where we had dinner.

Chang was ordering, and I was a willing party to gluttony.  This is bandeja paisa, a ridiculous amount of food that's also something of a national dish (in the same sense that the bald eagle is the American national bird).  Side note = It's worth pointing out that I actually lost weight in Colombia, although it definitely started after this meal.

Can't go to Colombia without trying Juan Valdez coffee.  It's as ubiquitous as Starbucks is in the States.  Come to think of it, I didn't see too many Starbucks, if any...

The requisite group photo.

After dinner, Chang and I went with his buddy Rodrigo to one of the branches of Bogota Beer Company, a very good chain of artisanal beer.

They serve a meter tall jirafa (Spanish for "giraffe").  We didn't order one, but we admired the one across from us.

Rodrigo and Chang.  Note Chang's San Francisco Giants hat (I have memories of him crying in 2002 after Games 6 and 7 of the World Series).

The next afternoon I flew to Cartagena, where I would spend 3 nights before returning to Bogota for 5 nights.  Stay tuned.

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