Colombia Expectations and First Impressions

I almost couldn’t believe it. I was waking up and spending the first day of 2017 in Colombia’s capital city Bogota.

Firstly, I was psyched to be in Colombia.  Ever since I saw the “Romancing the Stone” movie when I was a kid (even though it was filmed in Ecuador), I wondered what it would be like to visit Colombia.

Being located in the mountains in northern South America, surrounded by jungle, it seemed almost… other-worldly.

And the country has been getting some attention in the media recently.

Anthony Bourdain in Colombia

Since 2013, Anthony Bourdain has been visiting the country with his No Reservations/ Parts Unknown documentary TV series.

He has shown a country bouncing back, well on the way to recovery, with a kind and welcoming heart and soul.

Netflix

Then in 2015, came the Netflix series – Narcos.  An excellent and mostly, somewhat accurate TV show about the life of the most notorious narco in Colombia – Pablo Escobar.

It really painted an awful picture of the country being held to ransom by cocaine-fueled terrorism in the 1980s and 1990s.

Of course, Pablo was now long gone, so I was intrigued to visit Colombia.  I wanted to see what a country was like with so few Western tourists, and to see what life would be like in Bogota at 2,600m.

Bogota, Colombia’s Renewed Capital

Bogota is the 4th highest capital city in the world, and if you are not careful, the high altitude can catch you off guard.

It has a population of just over 10,000,000 which is almost half the population of Australia all in one city.

It has limited public transport, mostly non-eco-friendly buses, and crazy traffic at times.

I was staying in Chapinero, which is wedged between the downtown and posh north part of town.  It’s a bit of an edgy location, but I liked that.

It was strange being out and about in Chapinero, Bogota on the first day of the year.

Firstly, NO-ONE was around.  I was starting to think Bogota was a ghost town.  But as it turns out most Colombians are visiting family for New Years and do not go out.

Street Art in Chapinero

One of the first things I noticed is the huge amounts of beautiful street art.  There was some not-so-nice, ugly graffiti too, but the street art was crazy wonderful.

But it truly looked like an apocalypse with the lack of people or cars anywhere.

At least there was sunshine!

I was very keen to try a coffee (you know me!) but nothing seemed to be open anywhere.

It was such a mix of buildings as well.  Modern and shiny, and old and decaying.  Some were practically walled and boarded up.  It felt really strange, like the city is clearly transitioning.

The mountain running alongside the city looked very imposing too, as the gateway for the masses of heavy and swollen clouds that would spill over the top and roll across the city on an ongoing basis.

I FINALLY found coffee. At a local chain called Oma Cafe.  It was…. drinkable, and so I eventually had my first cappuccino for 2017.

I was hoping the next coffee would be better.

As the sun set on the first peaceful day of 2017, I realised it was a pretty good start to the year.  I sensed the adventure and promise of new amazing experiences in the air.


Also published on Medium.

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