They both fall into the ‘tienda bar’ category – that is cheap and cheerful, rough and ready, places to consume a few beers. Now perhaps it’s an Irish trait, but no matter where we are in the world we always like to find a place (or two) we can call our local.
|Elusive Lucio – keeping the beer flowing|
Initially here in Bogotá’s ‘La Candelaría’ district we stumbled upon the popular, fairly reasonably priced Doña Ceci’s. It fulfilled its purpose for a while, but after devoting a nice chunk of time to the place, it became a little disappointing that we remained just another number, another ‘foreigner with money’ to the rather cold, ‘tacaña’ owner (tight that is; see http://bit.ly/18eEfhd). We don’t demand a lot, but a little appreciation and recognition from time to time that we’re good customers wouldn’t go astray – what a local should, at the very least, be about. Alas with Doña Ceci, this was never forthcoming.
However, the tiendas where we now like to ‘relax’ at the weekends (and the odd weekday) score high on those points and more. Both places are such bog standard, Colombian drink holes that they don’t even have a name – at least not an obvious one that we’ve noticed. Thus we’ve had to christen them ourselves (and regularly continue to ‘wet the baby’s head’ at that).
So there’s ‘Up the hill’ due to its location which is, predictably enough, at a bit of a higher altitude than where we live, on the borders of the supposedly ‘not that safe’ barrios of Egipto and Belén in the city’s south. Then there’s ‘Nazi bar’ which, perhaps not so predictably, has nothing to do with – in any meaningful sense anyway, as far as we’re aware or concerned – the fascist movement that found its home in Germany in the 1930s and 40s. It’s been dubbed that because the very affable twenty-something year old owner, Lucio, has for some reason that we’ve yet to ask him, a faint swastika tattoo on his hand. Considering he doesn’t exactly resemble nor have the ethnic background of a typical Nazi, we like to think that the symbol for him represents one of its non-violent meanings – ‘to be good’.
In any case, actions speak louder than words (or symbols) and Lucio has only ever been a complete gentleman to us. Indeed of late he has adopted the Irish custom of the ‘lock-in’ after hours. A free ‘grande’ (that’s a 750ml bottle of beer, 'Poker' being our preferred option) on our birthday was also very much appreciated. Small things, but they make a difference. Now while ‘Nazi’s’ ‘grandes’ are a tad more expensive than our other local (3,000 pesos versus 2,500 pesos or €1.20 compared to €1 if you like – every little helps) Lucio’s friendly demeanour and appreciation to have us as patrons (how privileged he is) more than makes up for that. It also must be said he does benefit from a location advantage – he’s just a stone’s throw away from our residence.
|Fun & games 'Up the hill'; is there anybody serving though?|
As for ‘Up the hill’, while the cheaper beer may have been the initial strongest pulling point, the treatment we receive, not just from the extremely friendly Paisa** blooded owners and staff but the other Bogotáno regulars that drink there too, means that we feel bad if we don’t make a visit at least once a week.
Indeed the chief owner is almost like a mother figure to us – in a good sense that is. Not only was there free beer for our birthday, but a cake to boot. As for the other revellers that frequent the place, it’s rare we leave without getting at least one free drink landed on our table; all this from one of the city’s ‘poorer’ regions, especially so when compared to the exclusive north.
So much have these places become what you might call our ‘home from home’, the constant salsa and vallenato music that’s played in them is almost becoming likeable for us. We’ve even been known to do a spot of ‘salsa-ing’ once we’re merry enough (for a greater discussion about our Colombian dancing exploits, see http://bit.ly/S7A8eS).
All that’s missing in both places are a few prettier ‘chicas’ from time to time – perhaps the ones that generally frequent the plush north could visit, just leave the attitude and arrogance at home. We can dream, can’t we?
*'Bogotá's simple pleasures' http://bit.ly/Uzc3lk
**Paisa is the name given to a person hailing from north-west Colombia, specifically the departments of Antioquia, Caldas, Quindío and Risaralda.