Trip Start Apr 05, 2008
12Trip End Jul 19, 2008
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A. The Cafe
I´m buzzing. Buzzing all over. Like a bee on a glorious summer's day. Or a 70s television well past its use-by date. Like the fridges of student share houses all over the world, I'm buzzing. As I look out the window, over the lime and aqua railings, of a time warp of a cafe, bells signalling the sale of gas bottles ring and dingle, and another fresh, full cup of colombian tinto coffee appears in front of me - strong, delightfully aromatic, black like the darkest of back alleys. I add sugar and sip. And then, I buzz. Like the bass on a bogan's suped-up commodore. Like high-voltage wires warning of an impending storm. Through the lime and aqua door of this traditional local cafe, seven M-16 rifles suspend themselves from seven army personnel, each further armed with the biggest, shiniest black boots in the history of the world, each soldier prohibited from smiling
B. The Fields
At my feet, the world falls away, disappearing into a sea of verdant green lush enough to swim in. The smells of the zona cafeteria swill in the air, mixing, a cocktail of tropical fruit, dirt, humidity, coffee and trout on the grill. The air is still, the scene one of silence, the only interruption the sound of a moth the size of my head seeking permission to land. Hundreds of metres on, I notice the world reappear on the other side of the valley, greener than ever, more beautiful than ever. Tinto appears before me. Another one. That's 6 today. I buzz. Like a Nokia on vibrate only. Like a cown's handshake gag, I buzz...
Chapter II - Needs salt...
'That's not salt'.
'Aha. It is.'
'It's salt. Trust me'.
'If you don't believe me, taste it'.
'Yeah. Lick it'
'Lick it? That rock?'
As a general rule, tour guides shouldn't dare you to lick rocks. Don't you reckon? Or is that just me? Especially rocks and stuff. Or the ground. They definitely shouldn't dare you to lick the ground. Ok - so she may have been right - it was salt. And, ok. I probably should have listened. But I'm still not convinced about the daring. Or even a double dare I would definitely have preferred a physical challenge...
In my defence, the Cathedral of Salt, just outside Bogota, is really quite an extraordinary sight. More than extraodrinary actually - unbelievable. It just doesn't look like salt
Chapter III - Caution...
I've heard them all. More than I care to remember actually. They go something like this:
'you're going where?'
'isn't it really dangerous there?'
'Don't they just kill everyone there?'
'watch out for drug. You know they plant them on you...?'
'You should get yourself a gun.'
'I heard a story about a guy who was there and got kidnapped and woke up without one of his kidneys...'
As much as you try not to think about Colombia's not-so-sparkling reputation, it's hard not to be slightly affected by the drum of fear that has been a constant beat for a while So itwas with some significant negligence that we somehow strayed onto a road, in the dark of night, that we had been told not to go near
Indeed, Bogota has an unfortunate reputation which has the ability to blind people. But look beyond this mask, and a culturally rich city of music, art, food and coffee comes alive, names such as Garcia-Marquez and Botero synonomous with the city. La Candeleria, the city's historic centre, is dotted with cafes, restaurants, pastelerias, bars, jewellery shops, clothes, galleries and museums - a beautiful place for day time strolls and browsing, apparently not for night time walking. We have only just started to explore Bogota but, alas, our time has elapsed. As I leave, it is clear that Bogota has a lot more to offer. Perhaps another time?
Chapter IV - The Top 5
So, to the Top 5. I am willing to admit that, at times, this blog contains some exaggeration. Hyperbole. BUt this next top 5 is not an exaggeration
5. Crazy, eclectic decoration over the entirety of this monstrous steak house. If it were done differently, it would be considered tacky. If it were done slightly differently, it would look amatuerish But it's not done differently. It's done perfectly. Stuff from everywhere and anywhere, all over the place. Bizarre but mind blowing. Really.
4. Official welcoming at your table - a random band, dressed as bandits, rockedup at our table, playing random local tunes,giving us a fake cake with candles, sparklers, firecrackers, hats, tiaras, crowns, bandanas, confetti cut like stars coming from the roof, just for our table. Bizarre. Unexpected. Brilliant.
3. Models - random models just walk around in random gear. Dressed from next to nothing to a full, purple sequend suit, they strut and pose next to your table. Why? No fucking reason. Just because
2. Windy menus - no normal paper menus here. No. Rather, they come in a metal box, the menu on a scroll inside. Want to read the expensive menu? Wind the windy thing on the side. Awesome...
1. The food - in the end, it's a steakhouse And all of its novelty would count for little if its food did not make the mark. Luckily, the food was magnificent. What did we have? Oh yes - the meat plate. A juicy kilo of beef, topped with perfect bacom almost melting on top, served with a selection of delicious, unidentifiable sauces. And then the mash? Oh. Possibly the best in the world - cheesy but not too cheesy. Creamy but not too rich. Fluffy. Perfectly fluffy. And the most ridiculous selection that a salad bar has ever seen, the pick being the marinated roast beef, olives and feta. Brilliant.
To Medellin. Do it...