101 Reasons to love Bogota
101 Reasons to love Bogotá
2. Everyone’s an eco-Hitler. There is a ‘No Car Day’ once a year. Your flatmates will be obsessed with turning out lights.
3. People are paid to wear orange jackets and help adults cross the road.
4. There are palm trees in Calle 57. We’re at an altitude of 2,600m, somewhere in the middle of the Andes and there are palm trees in Calle 57.
5. Sometimes people sell chocolate on the buses. Sometimes they rap.
6. Random power cuts help maintain that Blitz spirit.
7. Two-hour salsa classes cost £1.75 and that includes a beer.
8. Hearing “You look beautiful” three times a day is probably good for you.
9. Britain never invaded.
10. Manicures cost £1.75. They last for two weeks.
11. Streets are numbered, not named. You don’t need an A-Z.
12. Even if your haircut takes 3.5 hours, you won’t need an appointment.
13. You can get anywhere you need on a bus and it will only cost you 47p.
14. The City Paper. It’s quality, it’s published in English and it’s free.
15. My gym has spinning every day and the best rumba class in the world.
16. You will never be more than 10 metres from your nearest street snack.
17. The sun ALWAYS shines in the morning.
18. Your friends will rock.
19. There are employees in Parque Simon Bolivar who are paid to float on wooden rafts and rake weeds from the lake.
20. It is considered acceptable to love books. Bogotá has one of the highest concentrations of libraries in Latin America. It has the nickname ‘Athens’.
21. Even the men get manicures.
22. You will never get bored of the chocolate crocantino in Crepes and Waffles.
23. Bogotanos regularly dress up their dogs.
24. Every street has a £1 ‘eggs, coffee and bread’ breakfast deal.
25. Eating your main meal at midday is good for you. It’s also cheap.
26. It is possible to buy a film on DVD the moment it reaches the cinema.
27. Candelaria is old, beautiful and has a great selection of French bakeries.
28. You will lose weight. Thank the altitude or the exercise. It won’t be the diet.
29. If you stand on the bus, someone will a) offer you their seat b) offer to hold your shopping or c) offer to pass your fare to the driver.
30. Arepas (sin queso) are better for you than bread. They also taste nicer.
31. It is perfectly normal to refuse to plan a night out.
32. You only need one friendly smile and a police officer will do anything for you, including searching for a taxi at 3am.
33. Everyone has a friendly doorman.
34. Someone will always sell you an umbrella when it’s raining.
35. Aguila is a really, really tasty beer.
36. Papaya is a) good for you and b) bloody gorgeous.
37. Smiling at strangers is considered polite.
38. You can buy extraordinarily cheap, but nice cosmetics at San Andresito.
39. The mountain is both a stunning backdrop and excellent for orientation.
40. Sometimes bomb-check officers cuddle their hard-working Labradors.
41. It is okay to visit a café for the sole purpose of using the bathroom.
42. Having a British accent is the height of cool.
43. People laugh if you catch them checking to see if you’re wearing high heels.
44. You can buy anything from the street if you know where to look.
45. It is perfectly acceptable not to disembark the bus with the other passengers, but wait another ten metres so you can stop the bus right outside your door.
46. You can choose from four different types of sugar in Juan Valdez.
47. Phone credit is cheap and available in the weirdest places.
48. Ordering a drink with lactose-free milk is considered perfectly acceptable.
49. You can buy unbelievably cute fruit and vegetable-shaped cuddly toys in Exito, as part of a healthy eating campaign. I want Broccoli.
50. Outrageously flirtatious behaviour teaches you not to blush.
51. People love, love, love exercise. Parque Simon Bolivar is so cheerfully full at weekends, even the laziest people want to jog there.
52. Children are sacred. The mini-parks all have functioning swings, slides and see-saws and are entirely free of graffiti and illicit cider drinking.
53. Other people also go to work early, so it is bearable to leave your house at 5.45am. Dawn is also mistily beautiful.
54. Choosing to drink aguardiente shots for the night is fun, sociable and cheap.
55. It is both friendly and respectful to call a random woman ‘Mami’.
56. Sometimes, you can finish work for the day at 8am.
57. Journalism is considered a highly respectable and important profession.
58. Most people actually care about politics.
59. Bogotanos are impressed at descriptions of; the NHS, the Welfare State, universal free education and reasonably-priced universities.
60. New people don’t have to be drunk to talk to you.
61. It is acceptable to drink a beer, on a stool, in your local corner shop.
62. The girl who does your nails will know more about you than your own family.
63. Bogotanos are genuinely upset and worried if say you’re going to travel somewhere alone.
64. The Gold Museum is so immense, it’s overwhelming.
65. Birthdays are a seriously big deal.
66. There are around 20 bank holidays. The city is deserted for every one.
67. Dozens of major roads are closed every Sunday morning, just so healthy people can cycle, run and walk their dogs without fear.
68. You could have a date every day if you wanted. But be careful if the cab driver asks what you are doing for lunch. It is not an innocent question.
69. ‘Hey skinny girl’ is a perfectly normal greeting.
70. Your teacher is called ‘Teacher’. Your boss is called ‘Boss’.
71. Everyone has a farm in the country. You’re welcome to visit.
72. The National Museum is filled with genuine treasures.
73. There’s no compensation culture. People actually look where they’re going.
74. Saying ‘Good Morning’ when you enter a lift is considered both normal and polite.
75. Your friends will tell you if they don’t like your hair or your clothes.
76. Parking is charged by the minute, so it’s worth walking that bit faster.
77. I once saw a man put a plank of wood across a puddle for three women in heels.
78. Off-duty soldiers feel comfortable walking around in uniform.
79. People who perform at traffic lights are genuinely talented.
80. It is okay to run a little late.
81. Elderly nuns have been seen devouring huge ice-creams in Parque 93.
82. It considered sexy to have a big backside.
83. The taxi driver will wait for you to open your front door.
84. When people say ‘Welcome to my country’ they mean it.
85. It is okay to smile at someone else’s child.
86. You can always find free Wifi when you’re on the move.
87. Coffee shops are bustling at 11am in the morning.
88. Football fans aren’t drunk, depressed or euphoric when they get on your bus after a match.
89. El Corral kicks McDonald’s ass.
90. It is normal, reasonably-priced and good for the economy to have a cleaner.
91. Even cheap aromatic tea often contains real fruit.
92. Having your clothes tailored makes you feel great.
93. The Fernando Botero Gallery is free. It also has a beautiful courtyard.
94. The lads who clean shoes are both lovely and efficient.
95. Tipping is not considered normal. Therefore, it means something.
96. Avocado is cheap, tasty and sold from a wheelbarrow.
97. Everything has its own district. Even lamps. Yes, there is a lamp district.
98. People are genuinely excited at the prospect of shepherd’s pie.
99. If you throw a party, everyone will come.
100. The customs’ officers at El Dorado airport smile. Honestly.
101. Some people say it’s possible to list 101 reasons why you love the place.
Others might say that’s a reason in itself.
A life in Colombia