My affair with Bogota

As in many love stories, love gets you when you are not really expecting it…. As you know, prior to my flight to Colombia I was so anxious and apprehensive. I was bracing myself for the “reintegration” to my Locombia and its cultural shock… I thought about the place I left a couple of years ago, the city destroyed in hands of the corruption, the traffic, the smug, the obscene inequality… these were the old memories of my city, and they pained me so much. And perhaps the city heard my cry and decided to welcome me with its old charm and renewed smiles.

The journey was rather good, a direct flight from London Heathrow to Bogota’El Dorado, 11 hours in the night. I was a bit sick but I survived and got to Bogota in the early hours of wednesday.  As I had planned I had all sort of measures to ease my arrival: coca leaves tea to adapt to the altitude, chamomile tea for my migraines, and long sessions of bedding with mum, just chatting or snoozing. I spent almost three days in such stupor while outside there was some rain. But while my adaptation progressed the sun began to shine through the amazing landscape of this city, 2600 meters closer to the stars. Bogota is located in a high tableau on the last branch of the mighty Andes, and it extends as a gigantic worm.  It is framed by gigantic blue mountains, mystic mountains of ancient times that make it really special, there are so many trees of so many colours, white magnolias, purple siete cueros, silver yarumos, dark alcaparros, nogales, and all sort of palm trees… and in the mornings the sound of birds, those impossible birds defying the devilish traffic!

it is perhaps that I come with new eyes that made me see things that even my parents take for granted. I was amazed by the amount of trees, the sun shining on the red brick against the mountains, the diversity of people, the sound of colombian spanish, so sweet, so soothing, the way in which people are kind with each other, the carelessness of lovers in the street, the way people laugh and smile for everything. And all of that in the middle of the crazy traffic, the ever present insecurity, the growing smog, the mad stories of politicians and local celebrities… the contrast is just unimaginable. I hope to make sense of all of that, because the truth is that suddenly I feel I am falling back in love… I am enthralled by the city, by its changes, by its neighborhoods full of generous gardens and plants, the amount of pedestrian streets, the picturesque popular neighborhoods and their made up colourful houses, and also the improvement of museums and cultural spaces, the richness of cultural events: an international book fair that sold out, theatre, music, opera, street circus, exhibitions, performances, bars, salsa clubs, markets, graffiti, the city is so alive!

The other night I walked with my friend Os  who walked me from his house near Parque Nacional (Central Park) to Ana Maria´s flat in downtown (circa 5 kilometers). The climate was so benign, 14-16 degrees, the blue of the sky coloured by the purple and orange sunset, the silhouettes of the buildings and the dark mountains. In the horizon a white line of cloud announced the appearance of a coquette moon, and the city on sunday was so calm, so festive, so surreal… and today my dad took me to the most amazing wetland-wood next to my parents´ house (humedal cordoba)… a treasure of birds, butterflies, aquatic beings and little paths, so unbelievable!

Yes, my friends, I am having an affair with Bogota, an affair of old loving, an affair of geography and intimacy, because, the city is not a “beautiful city” in the European tradition, it is rather shabby and crazy, and disorganised, and yet, it is charming and mine, and I am hers…

 

May 3, 2016

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