Misconceptions of Bogota (and beyond) That Really Annoy Me and I’m Tired of Explaining.

“Why does Siri say it’s 59 degrees and raining in Bogota!? It’s July. Anyway, I thought I was going to a HOT country!?” 

 

Yes, you are going to a “HOT country”. However, Bogotá is a city, not a country. And while the climates vary remarkably throughout the beautiful country of Colombia, Bogotá rests above 8000 ft. elevation. The higher a place is, the cooler it is. That is basic atmosphere understanding. It is also just north of the equator, therefor the weather patterns get wonky and a stagnant-seasonless climate occurs. That is basic geography.

Another thing: Any filmmaker who based their film in “rural, jungle, palm tree filled Bogotá” should be banned from cinematography for lack of basic research. It takes one google image search to see what the city is all about. I’ll even make it easy for you: think of a sprawling NYC or Chicago nestled in the mountains.

In short: Bring a jacket. And for the love of god, please don’t try to wear shorts in the city.  (You know who you are ;-P)

“Damn, is the blow (cocaine) like really amazing or whaaaaaat?” 

Bogotá (and Colombia, for that matter) is not a drug city, despite what history may have you believe. The people do not lock themselves in their offices at 1pm Scarfacing a mountain of coke. Bumps of cocaine are not found on everyone’s keys and most people don’t have hook ups on speed dial.

Sure, like every major city with nightlife, you will find select party-goers indulging themselves in certain recreations in nightclub bathrooms and dance floors much like you would in LA or Barca or London. That doesn’t mean its universally accepted here; nor has it ever been.

Cocaine is a little taboo here, but the foreigners flock to hostels in El Centro to try and score. In my honest opinion (and you know I love a some good fun), cocaine is not worth the hassle it takes to get it. It’s shady and not very “fashionable”. Basically, it’s trashy.

On the same note, the weed here is alright. Lots of sticks and twigs. I just spent 6 years living in Colorado where the green is legal and arguably the best in the world so maybe I’m biased. I still miss enjoying my favorite strand: “WonderWoman” on a snowy night.

In short: ditch the day dreams of “doing as the locals do” (because the locals don’t do that) and drink more guaro (aguardiente). It’s more fun than cocaine.

“Omg you’re probably so tan! How far away are you from the beach??”

Far. I live far from the beach. About a 20 hour drive actually. I am pretty tan right now, but that’s a combination of last week’s trip to Miami and Colombia’s constant long weekends spent in tierra caliente. However, since it’s nearly always rainy here, plan de piscina (pool days) are kind of out. No bueno for my tan. 

Cartagena, the old city

 I’m in the mountains far away from sandy beaches and coco locos. I do, however, love the la costa (Cartagena, Baranquilla, Santa Marta, Palomino,etc etc) and would gladly accompany you to the beach! It’s a short flight (about one hour) and they are fairly affordable if you buy in advance. Check out Avianca for the best deals and flight service.  

In short: Bogotá weather is not conducive to bronze-ness, but Colombians have about 1-2 long weekends a month which allow for quick escapes to the beach via plane.

“Do you have internet in Colombia?”

Wtf. I’m not going to even going to get into this because it’s just dumb. The person who asked me this was actually chatting with me via AIM.

Another hilarious one I’ve been asked: “do they have work out classes in Colombia?” After I had just spent five minutes talking about how I love taking Zumba classes at my club’s gym… This person worked for Goldman Sachs.

In short: don’t be a fucking idiot.

“When we stay with you, are we going to be like, sleeping huts?” 

Palomino, La Guajira: alright, I actually stayed in this hut for a week. It was awesome.


When I told people I was moving to Colombia I received a couple good natured comments about fields and cows and other farm stuff. Much of the country is rural and some areas are jungly with indigenous people living off the land. Many of the people who live in rural country have a cow or horse or a few gallinas; but there are also many major cities which are nothing like the countryside.

Medellin from above.

Bogotá, Medellín, Calí, Cartagena, Bucaramanga (to name a few) are all major modern cities with high-rise buildings, cafes, museums, private schools, parks, and corportate buildings. People take Uber and drive BMWs, Volvos and Hondas. Some enjoy fancy spa days and country clubs and macro supermarkets. They talk on cell phones and use paved roads to get around. Kids are glued to their iPads just like in the U.S. and watch cartoons on Saturday.

Personally, I don’t live in a hut. I live in a beautiful apartment  in Bogota with a view of the mountains.  

When the city folk have had enough of all this modern tech shit, they pack up for the weekend and go out into the country for a bit. You know, to get back to their roots ;).

La Calera, outside of Bogota

In short: Like most countries, Colombia is extremely diverse. You will find everything from country living to very American-ized lifestyles.

“God, we’re not going to get kidnapped are we?” 

Nah, bruh. We good. Once upon a time, Colombia was dangerous. When I was six years old, I remember dropping my dad off at the airport here in Bogotá and seeing eight armed men with insane guns surrounding one man and escorting him to a waiting car. Whether I witnessed a kidnapping or an insane entourage of bodyguards, I’ll never know. Those days are (hopefully) long gone and Colombians and tourists can live and roam pretty freely around most of the country.

Mompox, Colombia: Where Gabriel Garcia Marquez found inspiration for “100 Years of Solitude”.
Nuquí,Colombia: Jungle Cascades off the Pacific coast

In the last 10 years I have been on more cross country road trips than I ever imagined and have seen the most beautiful places and people because of it. I’ve been to places that most Colombians have never been and never once have I felt threatened or uncomfortable while exploring them.


In short: While precautions should always be taken when traveling, I don’t believe in letting fear dictate your experience or your home. Embrace the good with the bad, the beautiful and the ugly and learn something from them. 

Palomino, La Guajira

“Colombians are soo gorgeous. I bet everyone looks like Shakira or Sofia Vergara!” 

Alright this isn’t a misconception or stereotype. This is a fact. The people here are beautiful.



Disclaimer: This post is obviously poking fun of some of ignorance I’ve seen from people about Bogotá and Colombia, however, I understand that the media depicts a lot of “untruths”. It’s my hope that through this post, and my blog as a whole, (and maybe a quick google search on your part) we can begin to debunk those misconceptions and people can start to see beyond the stereotypes and find all the beauty and experiences Colombia has to offer. They call this place the land of Magical Realism for a reason and I hope you won’t be afraid to come see for yourself! 

I say this from the heart:I love Colombia for everything that it is. From the beautiful and delicious to the scary and rough. It’s all part of what makes this new home of mine so unique. So full of character. The adventure and life experience that present itself here is once in a lifetime and I wouldn’t trade it for anything else in the world. For those of you thinking of traveling here, please come! For those who are on their way, I can’t wait to see you! 💛💙❤️

La Guajira


Misconceptions of Bogota (and beyond) That Really Annoy Me and I’m Tired of Explaining.

Long Weekends In Raquira Part 2: For the Foodies!

This post is strictly for the foodies. And those who like food pics. And those who are interested in food porn.

One thing to know about my family is that we really love to eat and drink well. Some members of my family would prefer not to eat all than to eat something prepackaged or processed. It’s a preference I am completely on board with and wish to incorporate into my life…except that I am hungry 24/7.

When we get together for family events, there is always wine, fantastic cheeses, homemade bread, homemade honey (from my aunt and uncles farm), or the best cuts of meat, farm fresh veggies and eggs, decadent desserts or, occasionally, sushi being hand rolled in the kitchen or the little cousins are mixing ingredients for a dessert. It’s always 100% delicious and full of Jaramillo love.

Grandpa BBQing
Grandpa BBQing

So, a weekend spent in Raquira with my grandpa and family is always going to be a good one. In other words: Foodie Heaven. Should you ever join us on one of these weekends, please don’t arrive with notions of a diet. Leave those in Bogota. The food is too good to pass up!

As I said, wine and cheese are always a staple in our family. So is homemade cheese (queso campesino, from the cows on the farm) and homemade bread.

I still remember waking up every morning as a child during my summer vacations at my grandparents house in Bogota to the smell of warm, fresh baked bread. I think, 18 years later, I still wake up every morning, subconsciously looking for that smell and running to the dining room for it. That’s probably why I have such an affinity to artisanal breads.

[Colombian custom lesson!] In previous posts I’ve mentioned that dinner isn’t the meal of the day in Colombia. Lunch typically is, with dinner usually being a small tapa, leftovers, or an arepa with some cheese. I think the custom stems from el almuerzo (lunch) being a long, drawn out affair on most days. Unlike American’s, Colombians refuse to take their lunch at their desk in front of a computer or paper work. Instead, you head home (or to a friend/family’s home) for a 3-course lunch: first caldo (a soup or broth), next meat or fish with rice and some kind of veggie/plantain. After that is dessert, which could be as simple as guava and cheese, a spoonful of arequipe (dulce de leche-esque), or a beautiful cake. The meal ends when your cafe tinto (black coffee) arrives to wash everything down. [Now you’re familiar with some lunch culture down here!]

Because of the aforementioned custom, dinner with my family is basically bread and cheese and some ham (unless it’s a special event), but don’t be fooled by the simplicity! We love a good, strong cheese and some imported ham with our wine. This particular late night feast as seen on my FB and Instagram was a variety of Stilton, Roquefort, Truffled sheeps milk, homemade queso campesino, bread, wine, and jamon iberico. I told you, foodie heaven.

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The following day was Sunday and Sunday’s always mean brunch, no matter where you are or who you’re with. My grandpa whipped up a salchicha and veggie scramble, accompanied by arepas, queso campesino, honey, papaya and a special reserve cava.

Everyone needed a nap after that so we dispersed to the hammocks and sat and chatted for a few hours. Right before lunch, I decided to whip up a cake for my grandpa to celebrate Father’s Day a bit early. It was a spin on the Bon Appetite ricotta cake I made for Easter, but with an added twist: Wild berry, orange, and thyme. The night before my grandpa dehydrated mandarin oranges so I used some of those for an extra kick. Recipe to come soon!

When the champagne buzz finally wore off, we started on a few tapas: slow cooked oxtail tartine on potatoes, foie gras drizzled with truffled honey (ohmagawd, I was loving every crumb of that) and a tuna and onions cooked in white wine and vinegar. Sorry, but more foodie heaven.

Eventually the cake came out of the oven and that was devoured too.

More wine and reading and naps in hammocks. And eventually a card game that lasted late into the night with my great grandmother.

The next morning (our last morning), after a long walk and some coffee, we feasted on a calentado. Calentado is essentially “leftovers” or rice, meat, maybe some beans and veggies if you have them on hand. For breakfast, an egg is thrown on top or scrambled in, but not always. It’s very classically Colombian and you can find it in most homes and even local restaurants.

We paired it with more coffee, cheese, arepas, and bread and some fresh green tomatoes (picked that day on the farm!) and indulged.

After returning from a day in town, we lunched on some excellent cuts of meat (which I never snapped a photo of) and leftover tapas. Eventually it was time for dessert!

We decided to stick with the theme from the previous day’s dessert. Before lunch, my grandpa and I made an agraz (blueberry), orange, and thyme marmalade to drizzle on top of a Normandy brie my uncle picked up on the way to Raquira. Let me just tell you: I will never buy marmalade again! My grandpa’s recipe is the only way to go and it’s SO simple!

Look at how beautiful it is:

I love being able to come together with my family, share amazing food, and make all these memories. It’s one of the reasons I love living in Colombia. 

Long Weekends In Raquira Part 2: For the Foodies!

Long Weekends in Raquira Part 1: Life in Raquira

Remember when I said every weekend was a long weekend (puente/festivo) in Colombia? I wasn’t kidding. It has more bank holiday’s than Colombian’s know what to do with! In June there are THREE (out of four… ;) ) festivos! Because a majority of Colombian’s live in the major cities, it is very common for people to leave for more rural/less hectic parts of the country on these weekends and get away. During a puente, Bogotá empties out with people leaving for their farm, or a friend’s farm, or perhaps the coast to soak up some sun.

Last weekend, I headed to Raquira in Boyacá with my family.

The department of Boyacá, Colombia has quickly become one of my favorite parts of Colombia. I first mentioned it HERE when the first part of my grandpa’s birthday cabalgata passed through it. It’s less than three hours from Bogotá and is rich in Colombian history. It’s known for beautiful climates and landscapes, as well as its famous artisans and clay pottery.

Life in Raquira is very relaxed and tranquil. The weather is much like that of Los Angeles: warm and sunny during the day, cool and crisp at night. Unlike other climates in Colombia (which are humid and hot all day long), Raquira is very dry and lacks rain (something that worries the local farmers at times, but that they enjoy because of the beautiful blue skies it provides).

This weather leads to leisurely days swinging in hammocks, horseback riding, sipping crisp beverages, and playing in the sun.

After spending two lazy days eating and relaxing on the farm, my family decided to explore the town of Raquira for the afternoon. Like many pueblos in Colombia, there is a plaza with a church and many shops and corner stores and people bustling around selling food and artisanal goods.

There were food stalls selling every kind (and color) of chorizo, potatoes, corn, and morcilla. Other’s selling candies and guava paste or trinkets for the tourists. I felt very Anthony Bourdain wandering around the market that afternoon. You think he’d join me one weekend out here!?

My cousin’s and I walked around the shops and ate ice creams until it was time to head home.

On the way back to the farm we stopped for a quick hike to one of the most beautiful waterfalls I have ever seen.

Tucked below some trees and rocks and houses were these emerald cascades that poured into a lagoon. It was completely empty and peaceful, with just the rushing sound of the waterfall splashing. There’s a reason why Colombia is described as “magical realism”. This is why:

It’s the perfect place to hide away from everyone with a bathing suit, a bottle of wine and a picnic. I’d tell you where it is, but it’s so desolate that I don’t want to give away it away! ;) You’ll just have to come with me next time!

Long Weekends in Raquira Part 1: Life in Raquira

Wine Loving in Bogota

If you know me, you know I love myself a little wine. Okay, not a little… a lot of wine! It’s not uncommon that I have a few bottles on hand for guests, and I never let anyone drink Yellowtail or Barefoot in front of me. (Sorry to the friends who try).

In my two months living in Bogota, I’ve quickly found my favorite wine shops and which stores offer the best wine sales on which days (hint: in a pinch, head to Carulla on Friday’s or Jumbo for great deals on imported vino).

My uncle asked me last week after a discussion about my favorite local shop: “And where do you buy milk?” To which I replied: “Oh, I don’t drink milk”. He chuckled and said, “You don’t know where to buy milk but, of course, you know all the wine shops.”

In fairness, I know where to buy milk… and I just prefer almond milk. ;)

Back to wine though…

Here’s me riding home with a box of vino strapped to my bike. Successful 2-for-1 wine pick up!

Wine might not be Colombia’s greatest export (in fact, I’m pretty sure most Colombian wine isn’t very good at all…) but Colombian’s sure do love a glass or two of vino, especially from our neighbors in Chile and Argentina! Wine is very much a part of the food culture here and it’s not uncommon to enjoy a glass of sherry with lunch.

So, obviously when I hear about a wine tasting or other such event, I’m there within the hour.

Last week, my uncle and I decided to wait for Bogota’s ever-pleasant rush hour to die down after work by sharing a half bottle of wine at a nearby distributor: Vinos del Rio. It’s located on Calle 82 entre Cr. 10 y 9, just a block east of Zona T and Andino (the mall). The shop is large and spacious with community tables to sit and sample your new favorites and enjoy a small bite to eat at Gas. Tro. Teque. (lunch and dinner they offer delicious small plates to pair with your wine).

We popped in around 6pm, just before they were to begin their Thursday night wine tasting and pairing (we didn’t stay for that, but I’m definitely eager to check it out!).

The staff is extremely knowledgeable and after greeting us, immediately took us around the shop showing us everything they had on offer. We decided to share a half bottle of Carménère Reserve (at a very reasonable price). We paired it with some delicious goat cheese and bell pepper poppers and a Spanish ham tartine. But I ate them too fast and forgot to take pics!

Luckily, the handsome Spanish jamon iberico-slicing expert (Andres Arroyo) brought over a plate of my absolute favorite ham (jamon iberico) to nibble on as we finished the last of our bottle.

One of my favorite things about living in a big city like Bogota, is that you never know what’s going to happen next. One minute I was stuck in traffic on la septima (7th Ave), and the next I was sipping a glass of Chilean wine with some fantastically sliced jamon. It’s the little things like that, you know?

A few weeks ago a friend was telling how much he loved his city (Bogota). He said he loves the chaos. I see what he means now. Whether it’s the street performers juggling flames at the stoplight or escaping into a local shop for a quiet glass of wine while the city whirls around you outside, no two moments are the same. There’s always something exciting to experience or taste or see. That’s one of the reasons I love Bogota. 

Wine Loving in Bogota

Photoblog: Cali, Colombia

A couple weeks ago, I escaped down south to visit my cousin in beautiful Cali, Colombia.

We spent the long weekend or puente (note: something I’ve learned about Colombia is that almost every weekend is a long weekend!) catching up after a long year of not seeing each other and enjoying the tropical climate of Cali.

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Between chatting poolside, exploring the flavors of Cali (like arepas filled with meat, plantains, cheese and topped with different salsas), salsa dancing (it’s the salsa capital of Colombia!) and cooking delicious brunches, I felt completely and utterly relaxed when I got back to Bogota.

My cousin’s house is a dream. It’s an open air house with a beautiful garden, full of every fruit tree you can imagine and the most beautiful birds in every color.

We cooked many meals from local ingredients and flavors (and when I say local, I mean like direct from her garden! Papaya, tomatoes, oranges, arepas, herbs!) 

Sunday I decided to show her how we do brunch in Boulder, Colorado: eggs and ham, chocolate-banana oatmeal pancakes, papaya and chia smoothes, coffee, mimosas with fresh squeezed OJ, and more!

What do you think? I think we did Boulder proud!

I could have stayed swinging in the hammock for the rest of my life.

Photoblog: Cali, Colombia

Learning to be Alone.

The title of this post sounds sad and lonely; but I promise you it’s not! In fact, it’s the opposite. It’s a reflection on finding peace and happiness in those moments of necessary solitude that we almost never allow ourselves.

A very wise friend/personal hero of mine has a philosophy he shared recently:

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I don’t think I could agree more with his philosophy. I realized recently that for the last 24 years, I’ve spent nearly all of my time with another person (parents, roommates, friends, boyfriends, etc) and have never really stepped back to take a good look at my reflection, completely alone and completely independent of anything/one else.

That’s what this whole move has been about for me. Spending time alone, with myself. I’m not a hermit. I still go out, meet new friends, visit with family; but I’m learning to appreciate the solitude in my new life here. The simple things like having breakfast in complete silence and being fully conscious and aware of where I am in that moment. Going on walks in my new neighborhood, spending an hour everyday writing or reading a book before bed. (All of which I did in my own life, but without the conscious effort of self reflection).

Last week I spent the 24 hours in meditation at an Ashram in nearby Villa de Lleyva. I’d never spent that much time alone in my own thoughts and it was interesting: I learned more about myself in that 24 hours than I may have in the last 24 years. It’s something about shutting off everything around you. All the noise, all the negativity, and the outside thoughts. You begin to hear yourself a little differently and you pay attention because you can’t hide from your thoughts without the outside noise.

I still have a lot of growing to do but I’m open to it. I know that learning to be alone is the best achievement so far.

(Ps- If you’d like to know more about the amazing work that BC does, check him out HERE! He’s truly a beautiful human being.)

Learning to be Alone.

Atma in Suesca, Colombia

Shortly after arriving in Colombia, I decided to spend a couple of days with my Aunt and her family at their farm in Suesca (about an hour and a half from the city). It’s a beautiful valley full of trails, rolling hills, and rock climbing. Plus, the silence of being aware from the city is refreshing.

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The farm is called Atma, which means “soul” in Hindi. It was fitting because I felt myself doing a lot of soul searching while I was there. (It was so peaceful and calm that it was impossible NOT to soul search!).

Their home is the epitome of farm to table. Much of their food is grown right there on the farm or milked from their cows, or baked in their kitchens. Lettuce, fruits, honey, eggs, cheese, ghee, bread… you name it, they probably make it.

One night, we made fresh cheese (with milk from their cows) with home grown lavender, freshly baked bread, and honey they cultivate from their Africanized beehives. It was a simple and beautiful dinner, made even more beautiful by the fact that it was made at home with lots of love. #appreciate

My days were spent riding, hiking, meditating, doing yoga, or hanging out with my cousins in a beautiful place.

Isn’t that a spectacular sunset? How do you get away?

Atma in Suesca, Colombia