Month 2 of Remote Year has me living and working in Colombia’s sprawling capital, Bogotá. The city itself is surrounded by Andean peaks and filled with urban sophistication and colonial wonder. It is the third-highest capital in South America at about 8,660 ft above sea level. Because of the altitude, the first few days here had me gasping for air even simply walking up the stairs or to the office. I have been trying to drink 2 liters of water to keep me from getting altitude sickness because several others from our cohort are feeling a bit off. Aside from living in the clouds, I’m grateful to be experiencing Colombia’s rich history, legends, and colorful cultures this month.
Bogotá has 20 localities, or districts, forming an extensive network of neighborhoods. It reminds me so much of Los Angeles with its horrible traffic, diverse looking neighborhoods, and mountainous backdrop. I am living in a nice and safe neighborhood called Chico Norte. Unfortunately, my first impressions of the city weren’t that grand. I didn’t instantaneously fall in love like I did with Mexico City. My apartment reminds me of a dorm room, and the street I live on looks and feels like a college campus. It takes me 25-45 minutes to get to the workspace, restaurants, and fitness studios so I feel a bit excluded from the rest of the group. We are also in the midst of a ton of construction which makes getting anywhere more complicated than my commute in the past. I have to constantly keep reminding myself that it is just a temporary state, and force myself to get out and explore different areas to find the inspiration my mind craves and needs. The city and the people are absolutely gorgeous so it’s easy to pull yourself out of a rut when you are surrounded by so much beauty. Our workspace this month, Work&Go, is modern and filled with a ton of natural light and vertical gardens which makes for a nice escape during hectic work days.
I am taking this month to get back into a routine. In Mexico City, I only cooked once and ate out way too much. Right away I found an organic market called Gastronomy Market close to the office. It has really fresh produce and I love obsessing over the different packaging of fancy products from country to country. The avocados here are some of the best I’ve ever had. My goal is to cook more and do meal-prep to ensure I’m getting a well-balanced diet this month. Luckily, quinoa is abundant in Colombia so I’m easily getting my superfood diet back. I found a yoga studio, Evolution Yoga, that I’ve been going regularly to keep me grounded. I also tried a barre class at Pilates ProWorks that was actually a HIIT class (barre must be lost in translation) that kicked my ass. They have regular reformer pilates that I’m used to back home that I will be frequenting. Cyglo is a fabulous spin studio equivalent to Flywheel in the US that will make you sweat. And even though all the fitness classes are in Spanish, I’m improving on vocabulary and haven’t had a problem keeping up with the rest of the class.
The food here in Colombia is much different than Mexico City. So far I’ve splurged on two dinners/nights out here at Andrés and Leo. Located outside central Bogotá in Chía, Colombia, Andrés Carne de Res is a place like I’ve never been before. It is a 2.76-square-mile restaurant that encompasses a multiple dance floors kitchens, dining rooms all filled with neon lights and kitschy antiques. The menu was basically a beautifully designed catalog that would make any designer drool. Leo was named one of the top 50 restaurants in 2015. It was a gastronomic tasting menu with the resources coming directly from Colombian geography. The head chef Leonor served us one of the courses directly making it a special evening. My go-to brunch/lunch spots have been Canasto Picnic Bistró, Masa, and Osaki.
There are so many fruits and vegetables in South America that I’m excited to incorporate into my daily diet here. My favorite has been Lulo, a fruit that looks like a yellow tomato and tastes like a combination of passionfruit, rhubarb, and lime. Another is tomate de arbol which tastes like a tomato with hints of guava and basil. And Granadilla which has a hard exterior and filled with snot-like crunchy seeds.
I’ve been forcing myself to say yes and go out more. I was feeling very introverted and overwhelmed last month and want to put myself out there from here on out and grow closer friendships with the rest of the remotes. Everyone here is so lovely and unique that I am starting to feel like I’m part of a large family, something I’ve always craved in my life. And here in Bogotá, going out means taking shots of aguardiente, an anise-flavoured liqueur, and dancing! Aguardiente not quite as good as sambuca, but I’m slowly becoming a fan. The dancing culture here is 🔥 that has me falling in love with salsa and slowly learning how to move my gringo hips! 💃🏼 Besides dancing, another favorite Colombian pastime is Tejo. A game where you literally throw a large puck at small exploding targets filled with gunpowder. I’ve played twice so far and have no clue how this game can be safe making it quite popular amongst locals.
My favorite places to explore have been La Candelaria and Usaquén. La Candelaria is the oldest neighborhood in Bogotá and what I felt to be the city’s heart and soul. The streets are filled with Spanish Colonial homes splashed with color that sit on sloping hills while green mountains stand in the background. It houses Museo Botero, Museo de Oro (you know how I love my bling), and the base of Monserrate. I spent a day getting lost in the streets, museum hopping, and eating an authentic meal at La Puerta Falsa. I also booked a bike tour to zoom around the streets and check out the graffiti and local culture. The highlight of La Candelaria is taking the cable cars up to Mount Monserrate for the sunset and then eat dinner overlooking the city.
Usaquén felt like a village in the city, so distinct is it from the rest of bustling Bogotá. On Sundays in Usaquén there’s a great flea market, selling everything from clothing to jewelry to chess sets. It’s the perfect opportunity to wander the streets and get to know the area. I recommend eating at Abasto as it was one of the best meals I’ve had here thus far. The city respects its pedestrians and cyclists, and every Sunday certain roads are closed for the Ciclovía (cycle route) and thousands of bikers, runners, and pedestrians take to the streets.
One of the weekend excursions I’ve done was a visit the Nemocon Salt Mine, which is 30 minutes from Zipaquirá. There, 80 meters underground, you walk along 1,600 meters of tunnels through which between 1816 and 1968 about 8 million tons of salt were extracted. The movie 33 was filmed there giving it a touristy/movie-set appeal, but still worth checking out!
I also went to my first Colombian soccer game – so much fun!