This post is written a few hours after the last one was. Since there was no hot coffeepot inviting me to have a cuppa at the hostel, I decided to head down the hill to the most expensive hotel in town, the Hotel de la Opera, next to La Scala Opera House. I went in, made friends with the man at the desk by inquiring about their rates: $168 per night. Then, I decided to settle for breakfast in their bright yellow garden cafe, making friends with the two waiters while eating a fabulous omelet and toast, plus coffee for $5. `(I´m afraid I left my fine sunglasses there. At least, I hope so, because I haven´t found them since, though they could be lost in this backpack. )
From there, I set out on a walking tour of downtown Bogota….I have landed in the nicest part….finding a place to change my money and now a very modern internet cafe where I can, at last, luxuriate on the computer. There is only one machine at the hostel, so one must be quick.
Everyone is very nice at my Alegria´s Hostel here, but it´s cold at night and hard to sleep. I thought I was reserving a bed in a ¨three-bed dorm room¨ but I actually have four roommates, all guys, because the hostel counts the bunks as one bed. Mattresses are rawther hard and lumpy too. Doesn´t make for sound sleep, tho my roomies are very quiet.
Anyway, tomorrow, Ill catch a bus to Medellin where I have a private room already reserved in the Casa Kiwi Hostel, which sounds very good. Medellin is said to be very beautiful and it´s nine hours by bus north of Bogota. I am heading, by stages, up to Cartegena and then Santa Marta, both on the Caribbean Sea. Those cities should be warm and I can pack up all these winter clothes that I´m so very glad to have had here in Bogota. Today, however, while walking around town in my many, many layers, I was ready to strip down, as it´s now in the 70´s and sunny.
Little by little, I´m picking up the swing of travel once more…getting the familiar feel of walking interesting streets in an interesting country; struggling with my lack of language; overcoming the inertia of just wanting to curl up and roost somewhere, anywhere; and figuring out how to find the bus station and make plans to move on. My brain hasn´t quite caught up with my body yet. That takes a few days to work through the sluggishness of slow-thinking that produces. But, it will probably happen in my new town. One can hope, anyway.
Early this morning, soon after arrival, I wrote a very inspired post. However the computer must have timed out and it looks as if I lost it. Now, I am sleepy having had only a nap after my overnight flight to Bogota, so this will be dull by comparison. First, let´s see if this one will even publish before I write another long message to nowhere.
Wonderful! It did post this one, so I shall continue – sleepy brain and all.
Bogota, Colombia is wonderful and I´m making so many friends already and plans are beginning to form for my next destinations. The magic is already back and it began to happen in Houston. It´s hard to say why life changes so radically the minute I set forth, but it does. I hope that I can capture something of it in future blogs. This morning´s lost edition did. Sigh! Anyway, as I waited to board my 11:00 p.m. flight to Bogota last night, I noticed a lovely young lady as engrossed in her book as I had been in mine. I was studying faces for clues as to who the Colombians were (very attractive, patrician people), and getting excited about finally beginning this exploration of South America. Just before the boarding call, Gayle Howard of California, closed her book and held it out to me, offering to pass it along and she had enjoyed it so much.
(I´m going to save this every now and then, so come back for more if it sounds unfinished.)
Gayle and I introduced ourselves and I learned that she has been teaching junior high math in a lovely coastal Colombian town, Santa Marta, for a year and a half. She has a handsome veteranarian boyfriend and a little black lab named Mamacita, who shall never be a mom because of what the vet did to her (spaying), but she proudly carries the name. Voila! Gayle and I had pre-assigned seats across the aisle from each other and we happily continued our conversation, she encouraging me to come up that way and raving about the beaches and the national parks.
My seatmate turned out to be Elsa, a very international Colombian woman who has lived all over the world and currently divides her time between a small town north of Bogota, and Spain. She was returning from a Christmas vacation in the States, visiting her adult children. I introduced her to Gayle and the three of us truly enjoyed the flight, talking, watching a dull movie, and sleeping. As we prepared to disembark, we two ladies predicted a wedding for Gayle after seeing a picture of her hunk. Gayle has already decided that everyone attending will have to wear white linen. I was wearing my tan linen jacket, so I said I just needed a little bleach and I´d be set. By that time, I had been invited to visit Elsa´s town also, and sit on her patio watching the hundreds of colorful birds that flock to her house.
Elsa helped me navigate the airport, change money, and find the taxi stand. It was a clear dawn drive through a lovely, clean, open city, still decorated for Christmas and I studied the place as I always do when I arrive in a new town. Nicely impressed I was as we drove straight to the huge and long mountain and ascended its slope to the older Candalaria district just as the light of day filled the sky. Someone opened the bright blue door of Alegria´s Hostel and helped me in, but it was too early to acquire a bed, so I crashed on the sofa in a small but attractive sala, with the television showing Spanish cartoons, sound off, but fun to remember Pink Panther silently.
In the next few hours, I met Emmanuel, from Switzerland, Oscar from Australia, Pedro and Heidi from here, Max from Paris, Rosanna and Pablo from Buenos Aires, and many more. All share the infinite quality of the hosteler, which I am trying to analyze and bottle. In every case, there is a genuineness, clarity, sincerity, friendliness and enthusiasm…even with rather slim language connections. Many do speak English, but even so, we bully through and get the job done. So, I will leave you on that note and go to bed at 4:40 p.m. for a long nap, having worn myself out with a thorough exploration of the district I´m in. We´re on a mountain, so the downhill was easy, but ohmigosh, the uphill was a mountain climb on cobbled streets.