One of the best things about arriving in a new place is that initial sense of displacement combined with seeing everything with a wide angle lens. The effect soon wears off and the lens somewhat narrows. How wonderful would life be if we could always see each day with the same wide angle lens. After a week in Bogota the wide angle is certainly narrowing its focus – must be time to move on. But not before acknowledging the new friends made and new music and food discovered.
Having traveled the world my new found friends have rooted back in Colombia, in the lush hills outside Bogota en route to the lake Embalse San Rafael. Sitting on their verandah I am reminded of Scottish highlands, or Keralan tea plantations – sweeping views across the foothills with an ever changing localised climate bringing sporadic rain and sudden bursts of sunshine, sipping home made pisco sour (while not yet in Peru, some cultural influences are not restrained by national boundaries!). Then, within 20 minutes in the car we were soaking in (literally) a jazz festival, followed by what can only be described as a cross between a musical, cabaret, live salsa, rock and theatre – at a highly popular and “happening” place – the Gaira Cafe (where the photos in the featured image are taken – they were celebrating a Mexican themed night), owned by Carlos Vives, a well known Colombian vallenato (pronounced “bajenato”) artist in his own right.
The generosity of Columbian people is demonstrated by the time taken by a young student friend who spent the best part of her Sunday tolerating my fledgling Spanish, showing me the sites and helping me shop. People in Colombia, in my week old experience, are certainly generous with their time and warmth. She introduced me to some of Colombia’s cuisine – Frijoles Rojos Colombians (red kidney beans served with rice, avocado and arrepas – a corn based pancake and found in various guises and shapes throughout). Arrepas (with various toppings or addiciones) and empanadas (pastry filled with either cheese, chicken or beef) are staple on-the-go foods, found everywhere and cheap. At the other end, there are the gourmet restaurants in the more up market and “well healed” north Bogota. I prefer the rustic, fresco filled, Bohemian, youthful La Candelaria district.
It is easy to take in live music by just wandering around the town. Jumped into a cafe where some musicians had gathered to just jam – and made a friend in the process – jazz pianist Paul Santiago – impresario par excellence! Then this little piece of magic on the street….
The next leg of the journey will take me on a journey of exploration, discovering the history and roots of current Columbian music trends. After this I will be able to tell my Cumbia from my Champeta as Songlines’ Colombian Where The Heart Beats tour unfolds the magic of song in Bogota, Medellin and Cartagena. Until then …. or hasta luego.