Saturday, 5 October 2013

Colombia, te extrañamos (Colombia, we miss you – in some ways)

To coincide with St. Patrick’s Day earlier this year, we came up with a list highlighting the things we missed from Ireland (see http://bit.ly/Xgz0J6). Now that we’re back on home soil and plotting what’s turning out to be a less than straightforward return to Colombia, in weaker moments we have found ourselves thinking about certain things we long for from our previous home. Okay, it’s not a case where we can’t sleep at night because of this but the following still resonate with us all the same.
A view of the town of Zipaquirá, outside Bogotá
Chilled out times in Colombia
Amigos
Obviously this is not to say we’ve a lack of friends here at home (despite a mass exodus of people in their twenties from the west of Ireland), it’s more a point that some fine additions to our ‘buddies list’ were made in Colombia over the last two years or so. Most of these, but not all, were fellow expats and some of them have also bid adieu to the country in the last while. There are though still a few old dogs remaining – perhaps we’ll be rejoining them shortly.

The expats lapping it up at Gringo Tuesdays in Bogotá's La Villa nightclub
Good, old friends in the big city
Big city living
This may directly contradict with one from our ‘Ireland’s calling’ list, but a lively metropolis, which Bogotá can be at times, is generally a good base for young(ish), single people. Plus, as mentioned above, the lack of younger people where we currently are is a drawback on occasions. Which brings us on to...

...las chicas
Okay, we haven’t always written in a positive light about Colombian women.* However this still doesn’t take away from the fact that they are amongst some of the best looking in the world. And before anyone accuses us of being sexist or a male chauvinist, Colombian women know they are beautiful and like to be told it too. We’re thus doing our duty.

Colombian model Andrea Escobar 'hard at it' on the beach
Not bad... (courtesy of revistadonjuan.com)
A different tongue
No, this has nothing to do with the above point, we’re on about the language here. While we’re not masters of Spanish by any stretch of the imagination, we were slowly (very slowly you might say) getting better through enforced daily usage** – as an old teacher used to say, ‘if you throw enough muck at the wall some of it’s bound to stick.’ However with the lack of regular practice over the last couple of months, bits of that muck are beginning to fall away.

Fun times 'Up the hill'...
Ah, cheap beer, cheap fun
Reasonably priced beer (and other things)
One of the main reasons the Irish pub appears to be in terminal decline is down to price (for more on this read http://bit.ly/MmS5bm). A pint in the pub is at least three times more than the price you can get it for at an off-license. In Colombia however beers in the ubiquitous tienda bars (for our favourites see http://bit.ly/17yN8HH) are very often cheaper than in takeaway locations – encouraging a bit of, ahem, healthy socialising. And we like to socialise.
It’s not all about beer of course; an affordable, refreshing coffee and biscuit in the company of good friends also hits the spot. Again, something we’ve mentioned previously in Bogotá's simple pleasures http://bit.ly/Uzc3lk.

'Wrong Way' fighting with the law; wonders never cease...
Keeping the peace
Street food
Coupled with above are the cheap snacks to be found on the streets – not in the rubbish bins, but for sale from vendors. Our personal favourite is the arepa packed with meat while a stuffed empanada is also agreeable from time-to-time. Outside of these evening time ‘meals’, we’re big fans of buying our fruit from street sellers, especially so considering it generally retails at a fraction of the price compared to the supermarkets. One must be prudent with the pesos.

‘Extra’ demand
Now while we did quickly become bored and frustrated working as an extra for various TV programmes – see http://bit.ly/NrbPc3 for the reasons why – we do miss the odd call from agencies requesting our services. Perhaps it’s an ego thing? Well being egotistical is a prerequisite for those who want to make it in the acting world, right? Plus, the extras work gives us the opportunity to be on the right side of the law for a change.

Overlooking Bogotá's vast expanse
High and mighty
Altitude
As oft-detailed here, we’re fans of the high life; that is living a bit closer to the celestial stars as opposed to living it up with the so-called human versions (yes, we question their humanness). So while it’s not the highest perched capital city in the world, at 2,300 metres-above-sea-level, Bogotá is lofty nonetheless. A close-to-perfect big city in which to be naturally high we feel. Or maybe that’s just all this sea-level air messing with our thoughts? A return journey might see us right. Time to get moving so.

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*One place to start in relation to our experiences with Colombian women is The Republic of Jealousy at http://bit.ly/ZrSQaN.

**Our Spanish got so good that we were even asked to do some promotional work for the Venezuelan government http://bit.ly/1a1I1er.

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