Someone recently asked me what made me fall in love with Bogotá, Colombia. The question gave me pause because I immediately thought of what it would look to like to literally fall in love with a city. Scenes of me and an outline of Colombia’s capital sharing a private joke over a romantic candle-lit dinner flashed through my head. I pictured Bogotá pushing me on a swing while I open-mouthed laughed. I imagined the two of us fighting over something stupid, but not being able to go to bed mad. My hair was flawless in all of these strange scenarios.
I know what the person was getting at though, he wanted to know what was so great about Colombia that I decided to stay and build a new life here. It’s a fair question, but I don’t really have an all-encompassing answer. The truth is, it’s a series of small, seemingly unimportant occurrences that make me happy to be living in this city.
Here are 7 random reasons I love living in Bogotá, in no particular order:
Quick Access to Fruit
Saying there is a fruit stand on every corner in Bogotá is a bit of an exaggeration, but not by much. On my 15-minute walk from my bus stop to my office, I pass four stands selling freshly cut papayas, mangos, pineapples and orange juice. I buy a cup of mangos almost every day on my walk to work and it only puts me back about 65 cents or 2,000 Colombian pesos.
The Pretty Mountains
Maybe it’s just because I am from flat Florida, by the mountains surrounding and running through Bogotá still captivate me. They are breathtaking even when heavy smog covers everything except their faint outlines. My coworker once told me if the mountains are to my right, I am heading north. This tip, along with the ever-present view of these beautiful masses, bring me peace throughout the day.
Getting called ‘Mami’
I can’t explain it, but I like it when Colombians call me Mami. It could be the waiter at a restaurant or a woman selling me my daily mangos on the street who utters the pet-name, and for some reason it always makes me smile. (Note: I do not like when creepy old men whisper it to me on the way to the gym while figuratively licking their lips. Those kind of “mamis” are unappreciated.)
Whether we’re talking tinto, café con leche, or a latte from Colombia’s version of Starbucks, it delights me to know there is probably some version of coffee only a few steps away. The travel company I write for even sent me on a coffee tour so I could see and write about the whole production process. A post about that experience is coming soon.
*sigh* There’s nothing really to say here except they are my kryptonite and, in general, smell so good.
The Catholic Cross
Not to be confused with the cross displaying a half-naked, wounded Jesus. I’m talking about the act of Catholics crossing themselves. Just like being called “mami,” I’m not sure why I like the ol’ Catholic cross so much. While I don’t do it myself because I’m not Catholic, I take great joy in seeing others do it during a prayer, after a soccer player scores or when my fellow bus-riders pass a cemetery.
Soccer is Everywhere
And by everywhere, I mean everywhere. I have been playing soccer since I was 9, but my enthusiasm for the sport was really only shared by my teammates. Now that I’m in Colombia, there is enough soccer enthusiasm to go around. I’m talking about HR giving us permission to stop working early to watch Colombia play a match or a blast of car horns and cheers echoing through my apartment complex whenever someone scores.
So no, there was not one defining moment that made me “fall in love with Bogotá,” nor is the city without its shortcomings– traffic, the constant rain, the ugly buildings, but this place is my new home and I am so happy to live here.