Seduced by the concrete jungle

Bogotá. The sole thought of entering this mega city gave me anxiety long before I had to face it (I was born in a forest). It was gonna be just another enormous, busy city I would have to cross on my way to more appealing destinations further north. My plan was to rush through as fast as possible, to basically just spend the night and then be off early the next morning.

But that was before I met Edward. The young local doctor who opened up his nice home for me, which he shared with his equally nice and sweet mother Doris.  He saved me like 12 years of time by taking me straight to all these hidden spots and highlights, and bit by bit the city started to seduce me. For a moment I could even picture myself living there… That was a bit too weird though, and I began to speculate what kind of pharmaceutical drug(s?) Edward had put in my morning tea.

Anyway, lesson learnt – Never judge a place before giving it a chance. And the by far best way to do so is with a local pro by your side.


Catedral Primada in La Candelaria, the old part of the city


Catedral Primada, with Cerro de Monserrate (the hill) in the background

Rush hour

Rush hour in and around one of many TransMetro stations – a successful public transport system that helps keeping the already over-packed streets of Bogotá less packed.


Oscar sharing some skills


Doris, Edward’s sweet and extremely sporty mum who pulled me out of bed at 6am to go climb a mountain

View from Cerro de Monserrate

View from Cerro de Monserrate – One of the biggest urban landscapes I’ve ever seen spreading out in front of me, home to about 9 million people. That’s like the entire population of Sweden, only a wee bit more cramped together… perspective?

Urban sprawl

Sorry for falling off the edge of the Earth…

That didn’t happen though, because the Earth is round.

HOW-ever. One cool and rainy night in Quito, one bus trip, one border crossing and one stolen camera later I found myself in Popayan, Colombia.

I ended up in a lovely little hostel, run by this Spanish guy Borja, his Romanian girlfriend. It is located right at a park in the center of town, where pretty old white colonial buildings dominates the scene. As soon as the sun started to set the first day I realized I had ended up in a street food paradise. One night quickly turned into four while I enjoyed excellent Colombian coffee, got familiar with the Colombian night life together with staff and fellow travelers at the hostel, and, well, overfed myself with this super tasty street food.. etc. etc.

I find Colombians absolutely awesome. It’s the kind of people that sit down next to you on the bus and immediately starts a conversation, ask you to join their table to share a bottle of Aguardiente in the bar (a kind of local vodka) or enthusiastically try to teach you salsa, even though you’re a hopeless case. All with a big, fat smile.

Then destiny took me to Cali, the third biggest city in the country. I had now been without camera for almost a week which had turned into a pretty painful experience with so many interesting things going on around me.

The amount of DSLR cameras (and lenses) to be found in Colombia impresses no one. Neither the variety. However, I was lucky enough to find something very similar to what I had lost, even though my dear lens that was attached to it will be difficult to replace in a while. But I was happy – not much else you can be in a country so full of smiles.


(Playing around with my new buddy)

The purchase was done the very last day of 2012 (ehh yeah, I should indeed try to speed up my updates). That night I joined the New Year’s celebration at my hostel in San Antonio. The end of the year and the start of a new is really no big deal in Colombia, and most natives celebrate with a calm family dinner at home. Being a city with over a million inhabitants I had expected some pretty impressive fireworks, but… no. I’ve seen more mind-blowing fireworks in my quiet little home town deep in the forests of northern Sweden.


Watching the non-excistent fireworks in the streets of San Antonio


IMG_0119Party people

IMG_0101Anyway, in the middle of the cheering and hugging, of reasons I can’t remember, I felt like I needed to get away from the crowd for a while which brought me to a little park above the hostel. There I randomly bumped into Oscar – the Colombian artesano guy who had left the Amazon to try his luck in the big cities by selling self braided bracelets and the more dangerous possession of joggling and doing tricks in traffic lights. He only spoke a few words of English and my Spanish was still really crappy, but somehow we ended up sitting there on a park bench, communicating nonstop in a weird mix of different languages and gestures until the sun rose.

IMG_0232 IMG_0220

Oscar and his art

IMG_0203xApperantly it’s a tradition to burn furniture on New Year’s eve, a way of getting rid of old bad memories from people who died, if I got it right (no guarantee though, I was pretty tipsy after all, eh)

I now had my camera and was gonna get out of that concrete jungle the next day. Oscar admitted he was kinda sick of Cali and asked if he could tag along, destination wasn’t that important and with my mind wide open I said yes. Por que no?! So, the next day we stood there with our backpacks on our backs and out thumbs in the air once we reached the highway and eventually took off – the very first day of the brand new year.