Spotcheck: Bogota, Colombia
This trip kind of crept up on me. I was too busy dealing with the curveballs life was continuously throwing at me, then the next thing I knew it was time to pack up and catch my flight. I am embellishing that story a bit, as I was somewhat prepared with a few loose plans and an AirBNB to rest my head for the week. Another notable aspect of my trip planning was that, about a month beforehand, I posted on facebook asking if I knew anyone in Colombia that skated and tagged someone I met at a skatepark last year in Lima, Peru. Within minutes, I had already connected with three random people on the other side of the world, welcoming me with open arms specifically because I shared one common hobby with them. The small community I am a part of is quite remarkable to say the least.
I left on Friday night and arrived Saturday early afternoon. I made it from the airport to my spot and posted up briefly. I got myself together, got some coffee and then wandered around my neighborhood to find somewhere to watch the soccer game. Now, normally I would not care, but it was Copa America and USA was playing Colombia, it made too much sense to not watch this match. I stopped at Rock-A-Bar, a small rock n roll themed dive bar. I was a bit intimidated to go to a big crowded bar on my first day, so this little hole in the wall fit me just fine. I made some friends and they encouraged me to try aguardiente, one of the most popular alcoholic drinks in Colombia. It tasted like black licorice, not my favorite, but drinkable. I took a few shots with my new friends and headed out to the next spot. I saw a flyer for a party with a halfpipe and I was sold. It was at a spot called Latino Power. There was a hardcore band performing when I got there. Later, they had two MC's perform, and people were skating the halfpipe throughout the whole shindig. It was a cool first night.
The next day I roamed around my neighborhood a bit more. Basically everything is closed on Sunday, so I kind of just got lost walking around and sightseeing. Sunday night, I once again set out to find a nice chill place to have a drink, and lo and behold, I meet two attractive Colombian women at a random bar. One had a boyfriend, but the other seemed to be quite interested in me. Coincidentally, her school was protesting and she did not have any classes that week and we ended up kicking it a few times throughout my trip. Shout out to Tatiana, she was my little Colombian bae. Honestly, she was really fun and I was happy to have met her.
As I explained previously, I did not have much of a plan, but I knew that Colombia probably had some good coffee, and I like coffee. I specifically like to find new cool coffee shops, so I set out on a mission this week to find all the hip little coffee shops in Bogota. It was Monday at this point and my first coffee shop was Bourbon Coffee Roasters. This place was awesome. The ambience was creative, it was extremely contemporary and minimal, with some up-cycling and vintage vibes and an amazing little patio. The coffee itself was awesome too. After coffee I headed to the city center to explore. That night, I was finally able to skate with some of the locals. It was super fun, they had a box in a park where they all met and just had a session. I was a bit timid at first, but warmed up to everyone eventually, as they were all super friendly. It is amazing to share a passion with someone and be able to connect with them on a whole new level when neither of you speak the same first language. I mean, granted I speak Spanish, but I was able to connect with these people on a completely different wavelength just because we skated together.
Tuesday was a brand new day, which meant a brand new coffee shop. I went to a place called Speakeasy, I cannot even front, it was whack. After my whack coffee experience, I met up with my friend from Sunday and she took me to this little plaza where all these kids meet up to socialize and drink this beverage called chicha. Chicha is made from fermented corn, it is carbonated and tastes sort of like a beer mixed with orange juice. I enjoyed drinking chicha in the plaza with homegirl, that was a fun experience. After chicha, I had a pretty lame experience at a night club. It was a club that had this night called Gringo Tuesdays, it is advertised as an international night with drinking, dancing and language exchanges. I wanted to go to meet other international folk, but it seemed like just a place for people to get shit faced, bro out, and try to get some Colombian booty, or in the local's case, to get some foreign booty.
Wednesday's coffee shop was called Cafe Cultor. Cafe Cultor's main focus was on sustainability, so that was cool, plus they had some awesome coffee. This coffee shop was pretty damn good, but it couldn't beat out Bourbon Coffee Roasters, that place was the best. The next activity on the non-existent itinerary was to go to the top of Montserrate. Montserrate is a small little mountain that looks over Bogota. I strategically took the cable car up at about 4:30, so I could see it in the daylight, see the sunset and then see the lights of the city at night. It was quite beautiful.
The last coffee shop of the trip was called Amor Perfecto. It was pretty good. I was hyped to be able to get iced coffee, as that is my usual go-to in the United States. Amor Perfecto was definitely better than Speakeasy, but not quite as good as Cafe Cultor. Thursday afternoon, I explored a different side of the city center and went to the Museo Botero. There was some amazing artwork, including works from Picasso, Dali, Miró and of course Botero as well as many more. I could have spent all day in there, but I had to dip to go skate. I met up with a few of the guys from Monday at the only skate shop in all of Colombia, Roll Machine. It was dope, we skated at this park down the street from the shop. Definitely got only good vibes from the skate crew in Bogota.
Friday was probably the biggest and most exciting day of my trip. I had linked up with one of the skaters in a town about an hour outside of Bogota, called Zipaquira, through Facebook. He invited me to come to his town to skate and stay the night, because he was going to take me to a party that night. Of course, I was down, but here's the thing, the party was on top of a mountain in the middle of the jungle. Of course I was never going to pass an opportunity like that up. So, I took a bus out to Zipaquira and met up with my new friend, Dilan. Dilan showed me around his hometown, we went to his mom's house and ate lunch with his family. Then we went to the skatepark. Afterward we went street skating all over Zipaquira. I want to mention here that we went to a disaster stair ledge and I did an outspin soul to rewind on it, but unfortunately that clip is not in my possession, therefore it is not in the video above. We were done skating, so naturally it was party time. We got dinner, then hopped on a bus that took us most of the way up this mountain. The bus dropped us off at a dirt path, that winded about a mile or two further up the mountain. I thought I was going to die after walking up it, then I realized something. I am from the midwest, where everything is flat, and I was up about 4,000 ft above sea level, drinking and partying with no actual exit if I get altitude sickness. Fortunately, that anxiety left as soon as I got acquainted with the party. It was a rave in the middle of the jungle on top of a mountain, in Colombia. I literally never expected to experience anything like that in my life. I kept telling myself I felt like Hunter S. Thompson doing a documentary for Vice. I also kept having to remind myself, that what I was experiencing was real.
My last night in Colombia came too quickly. Unfortunately, I was exhausted from partying and dancing in the jungle literally until the sun came up the day before. If you know me though, you'd know that wouldn't slow me down. With no sleep at all, I scaled down the mountain and hopped a bus back to Bogota. Took a nap, and woke up to a notification on my phone about an event in my area. Side note, I am always scoping out the nearest hip hop show or underground art event or basically anything interesting to check out. Earlier in the week, I RSVPed to an event on Facebook for that day, It was called "Beats al Patio". It was a hip hop DJ event in a little DIY art spot in my neighborhood. I peeped the scene and proceeded to dance and chop it up with a few Colombian artists. I generally just tried to enjoy my last night as much as possible. Then, the next morning I was on my way back to the good Ol' U.S. of A. to celebrate Independence Day.
This trip came at the absolute best possible time for me. I had broken up with my girlfriend, was living on a friend's couch for a few weeks, because my ex-girlfriend was a less than ideal roommate, I lost my wallet, things at work were very tumultuous and unpredictable, my rollerblades broke, I had to move into a new apartment with a week's notice and People's Gas did not turn my gas on for two full weeks after moving. These are just a few of the things I was going through. This trip not only helped me forget about those things, but also gave me purpose. At quite a few points in the past few months, I had to seriously reflect and ask what I wanted out of life and what I was doing to get there. I did not always have the answer, and that was frustrating. I realized, creating new experiences and connecting with people from different walks of life is something I am passionate about. I also found out that traveling by myself forces me into situations where I can learn more about myself and about life. I found out that I have the potential to inspire people. I realized this after an acquaintance reached out because of my snapchat story, I was so touched by his message, I screenshot it to include it in this story. It was important for me to hear that I had inspired him, because that in turn, inspired me. It inspired me to continue traveling and searching and learning and growing and developing and connecting with people, and hopefully I will eventually be able to answer those tough questions about what I want out of life. Until then, I think it is important to enjoy the moment and not always worry about what is next. Bogota was amazing, but it was really the way I experienced it and what led up to it that made it so great.