I’ve written a few times about Colombian breakfast, especially in the country, where breakfast is done BIG…But if you’re spending only a few days in Bogota and you want to maximize your cultural experience and eat like a local (good for you!). Here’s the secret: ditch your hotel breakfast and go for a walk.
Walk around Bogota in El Centro or El Parque 93, Quinta Camacho, Zona G, Usaquen, Zona Rosa… where ever it is that you might be staying and buy a fresh juice on the corner or fruit cup to enjoy in the sunshine and try not to get by cab driver.
A truly authentic experience would include stopping by a local bakery (my favorite: Colombiano Pandebono on 95 and 15th) for piping hot pan de yuccas, pan de bonos, almohabanas, or areaps con queso (all various styles of cheese breads and the most typical Colombian thing you can eat) (yay carbs!) and enjoy one or all of them with a coffee. Remember gringos: if you order “un cafe“, they will serve you a coffee with milk (cafe con leche). If you order “un tinto“, you will get a black coffee. If you’re really feeling the vibe, go ahead and order “un avena”. It’s an oatmeal drink thats kind of like a cross between an spiced oat smoothie and horchata (but not made of rice). I promise you’ll like it! And it’s cheap! (5 mil pesos for 2 pan de yuccas and a tinto).
But maybe you’re kind of hungover and really need some solid food to start your day… in that case, I would recommend walking (or Uber-ing) your behind to the nearest Andres Carne de Res (which I’ve mentioned in this post). AndresCDR is a Colombian party institution with roots just outside the city, but has grown into various locations around Bogota (Andres DC, La Plaza de Andres, and Andres Express) for both the food and the party! The menu offers every typical dish in Colombia from regions like Antioquia to Boyaca. The breakfast menu is solid… with some standard dishes like scrambled eggs, calentado, caldo de costilla or arepas–pero wait! You said you wanted to eat super local and you had a hangover?
Skip the tourist menu and ask for: un consomme (like a caldo, although little lighter and with shredded meat and potato and cilantro), arepa de choclo (sweet, yellow corn, pancake-like and filled with cheese), and some coffee. All for about 15 mil pesos ($5)
As soon as you finish that consomme your hang over will be long gone and you’ll be ready for another day of touristing!
Yeah, I did it again. I took a three month hiatus and left this blog by the wayside. All it’s thoughts and adventure put away for a another day, nearly forgotten. In fairness, the last few months have been a wild and busy blur; feeling like both yesterday and years ago. Isn’t that weird how that happens? Thanksgiving feels like ages ago, but it was really only 2 months back.
Anyway, a lot has happened to me since I last wrote.
In October, I was on the cusp of packing everything up again and ending this journey to head back someplace I wasn’t absolutely sure I wanted to be. I found my self tangled with “what-ifs”and “I don’t knows”, like any good 20-something should experience. I also felt defeated by the thought of “giving up” before anything got started. Then I met some pretty amazing people who (whether they know it or not) convinced me to take this wild adventure I created for myself and grab it by the horns.
I began to see my new home in a different way (as reflected in my essay Change In My Pocket) and wanted to take advantage of all the opportunity it could give me.
So here I am. Colombian Passport in hand (I became a citizen in October. Funny how two weeks before I was granted dual citizenship, I had a flight outta this joint scheduled!) and ready to continue exploring and loving in Colombia!
So here’s to writing more. And being more consistent. And sharing these adventures with you so that you might be inspired to go explore life too!
Last week, I took a last minute trip to Cali to visit my cousin. After a whirlwind September, I needed a vacation from my vacation.
I spent five days basking in the sun, lulling myself to sleep more than a few times a day in a hammock and listening to good music with beautiful company. The last couple weeks I’ve been sorting through my thoughts and my life and suddenly, last week, all that seemed less and less urgent. I realized how out of the moment I had been living the last few months; disconnected even. I’ve finally found myself in the moment again. Breathing the air that I’m supposed to be breathing; seeing things for what they are and loving them.
Below is a short essay I wrote while in Cali. Below the essay are photos from the Festival Sultana. Enjoy.
Change In Your Pocket.
I walked briskly down the street, catching the last of the evening light as it bathed the city in shades of purple and blue. The breeze was fresh on my face, like taking gulps of sweet water. I listened to the hum of the boulevard below me. The sounds of buses loading and unloading, honking, grinding, screetching. Far enough from the chaos I observed these sounds. City sounds. My city’s sounds. In that moment, despite the chaos, it all felt peaceful. Life was as sweet as the breeze that drenched me.
I reached into the pocket of my vest and pulled out three coins. Pesos. I thought about how, just four months before, my nightstand held small piles of dimes and quarters, waiting to go back home and be used again. Circulated back into my old life. Or how the bottom of my purse always held a spare quarter amongst loose pesos. Where did those quarters and dimes go? When did this change occur?
This must be what it feels like to call some place home; when the change in your pocket no longer seems foreign. When your dollars are replaced with pesos and you understand the weight of them within your hand.
When I made it to the end of the block, I saw the road in front of me, bustling with rush hour commuters and put the coins back in my pocket. Maybe becoming accustomed to your new life and new home is as gradual as the change in your pocket. My thoughts hovered above me, intertwining with smog and soot from the street, mingling until they diluted each other.
I was at a cross roads. I had walked down my quiet, tree-lined street; as safe and comfortable as my old life had been, until I was met with the chaos of this boulevard’s intersection. Fast, ever-changing, and uncertain: this new life of mine. The intersection of old and new, of safe and unknown. I should turn back and go home, relax after a long day, I thought. I turned onto the boulevard and kept walking into the sunset.
Early Sunday morning (like 2 am early…) I was packing and repacking my two suitcases to make sure neither was over 50 lbs (proven difficult with a wishy-washy scale). It’s a really interesting job trying to condense your life into a couple suitcases and a carry on; what makes the cut to travel with you? What stays behind? Should I take these books or this purse? It’s kind of liberating, but also really frustrating because WHAT IF you decide to go to that 70s themed party and those Lita’s you left behind would have worked perfectly with the flared pants you don’t yet own?
Somehow I figured it out and left a few pairs of shoes behind (yes, the Litas), packed the books in my overweight carry on and I was off to the airport. I’m not sure if it was the pressure and emotion of knowing I was leaving the U.S. without finite plans to return but this was hands down the most grueling travel experience I’d ever had. As it was, I was running on 3 hours of sleep from Friday night (woohoo Korean Karaoke!!) so my exhaustion level was up there and then I had an EIGHT HOUR layover in Dallas.
Thank god for the Admirals Lounge. I spent the day comfortably napping, showering, drinking vino, and watching Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
When the last leg of my flight landed in Aeropuerto Eldorado in Bogota and I went through immigration, it was 1 am and I had been traveling for nearly 24 hours! A proper bed was a welcome sight.
Monday morning I headed to the grocery store after lunch and explored a little. I’ve been in many a Colombian grocery, but this time I made a point to become familiar with it. The mountains of tropical fruits and veggies is remarkable! Many of them you can’t find in the states, and the eggs are in the dry goods section, next to the flour and corn meal. I’m already researching some local dishes to recreate!
I’m not going to lie, I haven’t done much in my first few days here except visit with lots of family but that’s because I’ve been SO sick!
I’m a big time believer in your body moving and expelling energies depending on your state of mind and physicality, and the emotional toll that such a move and change like this takes manifests itself physically through fevers and sweating. Maybe I’m shedding my old life?
Or maybe I just have a bit of altitude sickness? Either way, getting sick when living alone SUCKS. I remember I got sick one of my first weekends in the dorms back at CU and it was awful! All I wanted was my mommy, but I was 18 and I had to woman up/ask my roommates to maybe bring me a snack from the dining hall. This is my first time living completely alone and there is no mommy OR roommates to ask for help… or dining hall for that matter.
Note to self: Always pack a thermometer and some cold medicine.