Posted by: Sarah | July 4, 2008

The woes of a Barranquillero-Gringo lost in Bogota….

The “culture shock” that a good (American) friend of mine who had lived in Barranquilla for several years experienced when he left the coast and moved to the big city….

Bogota sucks!  Cold, overly organized, not only are people prompt but they expect you to be (???), there’s no music playing ANYWHERE, they can’t dance, they hardly drink, cars stay in their lanes, people cross at crosswalks and only when the green man appears, and they clear their trays at the food court, the stores have too many fucking choices, and – they’re polite – like all the fucking time – they all want something from me, right?  What do they want from me???

oh, and the part that really tickles…
They have these little boxes that keep a kind of count, then they show you on a chart how much you have to pay!

No tienda domicilio.  No fruteras.  No morning “bollo” “aguacate” “el heraldo” wake up calls.  No tack tack tack Pavlovian dog mouth watering as the butifarra man passes.

I went to get a paper notarized and first of all the whole process only too four minutes (yes, I timed it).  When it was time to give my fingerprint the clerk just handed me the inkpad.  I stared at her dumbly wondering what to do before remembering, way back when in a land far far away where normal citizens were actually trusted, no, expected to place their finger on the ink pad and roll it across the paper ALL BY THEMSELF.  I was giddy.

One afternoon after my nap (they can’t take that away from me, not yet!), I stepped out of my stratus seis pupiville apartment to go for a jog.  The air was cool even though the sun was out and I couldn’t even break a sweat.  I jogged down a street with trees on both sides before getting to a wooded park where I guy was sitting playing trumpet, another jogging further down the path.  Most surreal – OTHER PEOPLE WERE JOGGING TOO.  What a weird sensation to NOT feel like the village idiot jogging over patchwork cement that looks like it was laid over a fault line.  I sleepily smiled knowing that very soon I would jog past the lampost and back out of the wardrobe doors and awaken from my Narnia-like dream.

And through I’m not a Barranquillero I feel … “affected” by my time there, I’ll end this with a quote from a friend…

“You can take the Barranquillero out of Barranquilla, but you can’t ever take Barranquilla out of the Barranquillero.”

abrazos to all, 

My response:

Do you at least have a balcony where you can play your drums or do you have neighbors who will complain about the noise that is disrupting their nice, orderly life?  What about the fact that it’s not necessarily a given that every person’s house you walking into will have a (or several) hammock(s)?  I can guarantee that iguanas will not roam your new school campus and I think it’s pretty safe to say that you will not catch little lizards climbing up your kitchen wall.

Where are the restaurants with plastic chairs?  And when you ask for chuzo desgrenado, they have no idea what the hell you are talking about and tell you that chuzo is ONLY shish kebob.  They drink some shit called Costena, which as far as I am concerned should be called cachaco because the only cerveza costena that I know of is called Aguila.

Be careful if you go up to Parque 93 because there is a TGI Fridays, a Subway, a Hooters, AND a Baskin-Robbins.  You might just think that you were drugged and taken back to Texas.

Buena suerte amigo,

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