Despite Colombia’s violent history, modern Bogota is energetic, artistic and wonderfully chaotic. This is a city that I've fallen in love with in the past years, after spending almost a year going back and forth for business. This city has put a vision in my heart on what most of African cities could become with the support of their local government leadership.
A culture similar to my own, I had no problem relating to the way of life in this city. Somehow, I found myself much more close to Africa than when I'm in the States. It could have been because of the beautiful weather that Bogota gets to share with its population (one stinking big season of awesomeness! Subtropical weather), or the way the crowd interact with each others in a sense that only residents can fully understand. Or, maybe it was the delicious and mouth-watering meals that I got the chance to enjoy daily, reminding me of the African-style cuisine, filled with so much aroma that one's nose can be sent to a heavenly bliss. Most strikingly was the fact that everybody seemed happy doing whatever they were involved with.
Now, I have to mention that I did stay in the best side of town, and like any other city in the world, Bogota does have its rough areas that even Colombians themselves will avoid visiting if necessary. Yet, in general, I enjoyed this place a lot and promised myself to go back with my wife for an actual vacation stay.
Things that I noticed
- A strong women workforce. From the first minutes setting foot in Bogota airport, you will notice that there are lots of women working and in charge.
- Most people in Bogota seemed fit. Lots of people walking from place to place rather than driving. After driving to Bogota, I would recommend public transportation or taking a cab. Forget LA traffic! Bogota is so jammed that they had to implement pico placa (regulations where automobiles are allowed in traffic on certain days depending on the last digits of the licence plates; odd or even).
- High elevation! Bogota is about 8,660 ft above sea level. The first day in Bogota, walking on the street felt like running on a treadmill. I was constantly out of breath. But, eventually you adapt after a couple of days.
- Seems like people are everywhere, non-stop. It makes Paris and London look like deserted island. Be ready to bump shoulders with strangers and duck through non-stop traffic. More than 6 millions inhabitants in that city.
- Welcoming people and eager to share with you their culture. Whether talking to the taxi man, the lady selling goods on the busy street, the hotel personnel, or just random people in various areas, they all showed interest and kindness. Lovely people.
- Beautiful infrastructures. mixing contemporary and old styles, preserving the beautiful Colombian culture while showcasing modernism implementation.
- Last, but surely not the least: gastronomy heaven. I have to say, I've yet to find a Colombian dish that I did not like. The food was just awesome and cooked very similar to central Africa dishes. I made sure that ate different plate every day.
All the time I spent in Colombia, I visited various cities (urban areas included) and they all shared the same characteristics. The presence of the armed forces around key infrastructures did not bother at all once I got used to their presence. Overall, I had great memories there and expect to go back for some more in the near future.