A foreigner’s guide to Colombia

This winter break, I had the unique experience of traveling to Bogotá, Colombia. What can one say about Bogotá besides the fact that it is extremely misunderstood? My own mother wrote to me “You know another two people got kidnapped today. I haven’t heard from you in a while.” I am alive and well and have returned with Botero paintings, Botero statues, Botero posters and Colombian artist Fernando Botero. There are several things about Bogotá one should know before traveling there:

1. You will not get kidnapped in Bogotá. Sure you might get jacked, but hey, don’t walk around looking foreign. The Bogótanos are a friendly people, but don’t cross bridges alone.

2. Bogota is situated 8,661 feet above sea level. It is crucial for foreigners to become accustomed to the altitude so do NOT drink the water. It is apparently so pure that anyone who drinks it will experience the wrath of their bowel movement and will be forced to skip at least two days of sightseeing or drinking until they have become accustomed to it.

3. The best sport known to man is the Colombian sport called Tejo! Tejo is a game that involves lots of beer, a heavy thingamabob that you throw at a huge chunk of clay in order to make firecrackers go off and, of course, more beer! The beer must be the Colombian beer Aguila, and note to any player: The more beer you drink, the better you become at Tejo!

4. Colombian slang words include “chevre.” Chevre means “cool.” Chevre can be used for anything (i.e. “That was SO chevre!” or “That was chevrisimo!”).

5. The food in Colombia is one of the best and most interesting I have ever tasted. The best thing I ate was the delicious Ajiaco soup, which contains everything you can imagine and nothing you have ever heard of, but is friggin’ delicious.

6. The best two foods in Bogotá in my opinion were: papas de pollo (potato chips with chicken flavor) and granadillas (a strange fruit you crack open and suck the insides out–also known as elephant snot. Tricky to sneak onto an airplane though).

So there you have it in a nutshell. Of course there are so many more things for which Bogotá is known, such as paintball and cheap cabs, but we have run out of time so you will just have to travel there and experience all the chevre stuff yourself! Adios!

Lisa Magedler is a junior majoring in creative writing. She misses Colombia and is desperately searching for granadillas in Miami. Any help would be greatly appreciated. She may be contacted at l.magedler@umiami.edu.