Little after arriving in Colombia I remember seeing a friend’s photo on Facebook, a panorama of Bogota at night with the caption “the best place I’ve ever called home.” This particular friend had already spent a year teaching in Bogota and at that moment I remember wondering if I’d leave with the same opinion (something I very much doubted at the time). It has therefore come as a great surprise to find myself so nostalgic now that I’m back in little old England, sitting in the kitchen with a cuppa while I write.
We’ve had a very love-hate relationship over the months, Bogota and I, and there’s no denying that the city has its faults. I’m sure I could list at least 50. It’s chaotic, polluted, dangerous, messy, cloudy, grey and, quite frankly, a bit ugly. The inequality is shocking – travelling from north to south makes you realise that the Bogota of the rich and the Bogota of the not-so-well-off are worlds apart – and homelessness in the city is just tragic. Yet in spite of this there is something about Bogota.
It wasn’t until the night before I left that I realised just how right my Facebook photo friend was. After a terrifying climb, Ivan and I reached the Mirador de la Roca, in Usaquén, just in time to catch the last rays of the setting sun and looking out over all those thousands of twinkling lights, beside one of the best people I know, the brilliance of Bogota and its indescribable, can’t-quite-put-your-finger-on-it charm really hit me. From up there, away from all the noise and commotion, the jigsaw stretching out below us seemed such a welcoming place, one that had adopted me, the would-be Colombiana, and swallowed me up among its other 9 million residents. Despite my reservations in the first few weeks, at that moment I felt incredibly grateful to have been one of the never ending expanse of glittering lights below, swept up in the ever changing ebb and flow of the city. In short, Bogota is a place unlike any other and one that I am honoured to have called my home.
(I will continue now with all the other places I visited in this wonderful country that, through pure procrastination, I have yet to write about).