After traveling to all the markets for IMAX this year, I wanted to take some time off to recharge my batteries. I absolutely love traveling! The more exotic, the more inspiring to me. Always budget-friendly, I decided to use my frequent flier miles for the trip. Amazingly enough, it used the same amount of miles to go roundtrip to Colombia or roundtrip within the USA. I chose to go to South America! Bogota is a very large city (nearly 7 million people!). At first, I thought it was going to be tropical because looking on a map its on the equator. However, it is in the Andes mountains so the weather is cool all year round – about 60 degrees every day of the year.
After I booked my ticket, I had to find a place to stay. I prefer to stay with local people if possible to make the best out of my travels. I put the word out through my friends that I was searching for a host family. My prayers were answered when one of my best friends introduced me to one of her co-workers who was from Bogota. He was kind enough to make arrangements for me to meet his sister in Bogota and even to stay with his parents in their home. The family was extremely kind. Also their 19-year-old niece lives there while she attends an architecture university. I am very thankful for their niece because the parents did not speak English at all!
I did some sort of interesting activity every day. I took a five-hour bike trip around the city, had a spa day, went to see the Salt Cathedral, visited the Gold and Botero Museums, took the Teleferico up to Monserrate, did lots of shopping, and of course I ate all the time.
Bogota fashion reminds me somewhat of New York City – lots of black clothes, lots of jeans, lots of leather jackets, lots of boots. In the old area of downtown, the walls are covered with very interesting and colorful artwork with stark imagery.
I also found one of IMAX’s Colombian customers that I had worked with at previous markets! Cristina and her husband, Juan, own a very popular boutique on a quaint and almost hidden street named Calle de los Anticuarios (street of antiques). The way that Cristina set up the store is so interesting – almost every item in her store is cream or brown colored and has a very natural and calming, almost ethereal, look. The store is well-known throughout the city as the spot for high-end wedding gifts. The day I visited her, she was making sure that her staff had properly packaged all the gifts for a wedding. The store has a signature gift wrap topped with a peacock feather.
The instant you see the gift, you know something great is inside! Interesting fact – Cristina told me that wedding guests shop off a registry list but do not bring gifts to the wedding. Instead the store delivers all the gifts to the bride’s family’s home. I asked another friend from Colombia about this, and she said they do not want to carry a big gift in their nice dresses. And most big weddings are on Friday evening.
Later that day, Cristina, Juan and I had a very nice dinner at a lively restaurant called Andres Carne de Res. Wow, anyone who has been to this area will have a story to tell you about this place!
The people I met were the kindest, most caring and friendliest people. If I ever have the chance again, I would like to go back to Colombia, and next time I will visit the tropical part of the country – the coastal city of Cartagena.