March 12, 2010

Finally Here

After all these years of thinking about making this trip I am in South America.  All went well, but it all went well very stressfully.  Did I ever say I hate flying?  It's not the flying part, its all the nonsense at the airport, the stupid way you have to get tickets, the body searches, be there two hours before the flight leaves etc. etc..  Avianco is a Colombian airline, they still have a lot to learn about the airline business.  The attendants were young and friendly, and they served food even though it was only a 1 hour flight.  I am sure they will catch on eventually. 

Spanish is giving me a lot of problems too.  When I entered Mexico I could not understand a word.  After nearly a month I was starting to hear what people were saying.  When I got to Nicaragua, it was back to square one.  I thought I was losing it, but it is all the different dialects.  Costa Rica was OK, Panama not too bad, but Colombia not so good.  More people speak English here in Colombia, almost everybody knows a few words, which is the first time that happened.

Bogota is not a beautiful city.  It is very large and confusing, even more so than Mexico City.  It was also replay of MC total traffic anarchy.  Motos are everywhere.  They have to wear reflective road worker type vests with their license plate numbers displayed front and back in glow in the dark letters.

I got stopped by the cops but they let me go when I did not even try to speak Spanish.  I was following a guy on bike who was leading me to some hotels.  I don't know if I was doing anything wrong, or that I did not have one of those silly vests. 

Speaking of cops, practically all of the ride bikes, and watching them snake through traffic at high speed is something to witness.  All the riders here are very good.  I don't like lane splitting with the side bags on because they are wider than the handlebars, and I have knocked them on things the odd time (not this trip), but I pretty much have to, especially when trying to keep up with the guy who will show me where the hotels are.

I did get to a hotel, 20 bux.  It is basic but OK wih secure parking and slow internet.  All the Colombians I have met are nice and very friendly.  My hotel is in the moto zone.  Moto shops are everywhere. I get myself a moto vest (Moto Pyama) with my Alberta plate numbers on it.  Even if I don't need it will make a great souvenir.  They had to sew the letters on and it took forever.  It cost 25,000 Pesos (about 15 bucks).  I have 300,000 Pesos for walking around money.  If I have not mentioned it before, from Mexico on everything is cash.  There is no debit, and only the real big chain type stores accept credit cards.  Cash machines are everywhere, so it is not a problem.  I had reverted to doing the same thing in Edmonton the last few years anyway.  When you have to reach for 'real' money it somehow helps to keep track of your spending.

So my next mission is to get the hell out of this crazy city.  I feel better about being here now that I have a hotel and have walked my neighborhood, which is seriously ugly, but full of nice friendly people and feels safe.

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