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Heather’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 24 Apr 2007

Location: Santa Fe de Bogota, Colombia

MapAloha Amigos!
How is everyone doing on this fine day? Today in Bogota we have a mix of sun and cloud, with a slight chance of showers this afternoon (that is my very own weather forecast, Heather with the weather). I can predict it quite accurately as it is pretty much the same every day. I would compare it to Vancouver, with a bit more sunshine.
For my most recent update, I give to you a story of a girl with incredible luck. She may even be the luckiest girl you all know.

A Princess arrived in Bogota with nothing but the clothes on her back, and a little daypack (-10 points for baggage loss Air Canada). This little unfortunate mishap led to a series of events which would seduce the Princess and overwhelm her with a great passion and love for the city, for all time to come. For some strange reason, the Princess felt at home and safe in this large and strange city, contrasted with horse drawn carts and Jaguars, adjacent to each other in traffic. The unselfish spirit of Colombians surprised the Princess, and her naive, unspoiled views of Colombia were made out to be even better- expectations exceeded.
A little over a month passed, of traveling to distant, isolated areas of Colombia. The indescribable sentiments of these places captivated the mind of the Princess, provoking wonder of bygone times, human struggles of the present, and a desire to know more of politics and globalization (for some random facts of the day check

Many (note I say many, not all) of the pre-formed opinions and stereotypes of the country were completely invalidated, and the Princess thought of people she knew who would never have to opportunity to know such a world. She pondered the other “dangerous” places on this planet and about destiny and how yes, she was unbelievably lucky, but also, how she was living a life more real than ever, where you live aware, not in any sort of bubble.
In Bogota, the destiny of the Princess led her to people very similar to her. Some incredible Colombians gave her insight to a lifestyle of achievements, a new and more affectionate ethnology, and gourmet cooking to tantalize her palate and happily expand her waistline. The Princess also had enough karma on reserve to rendezvous with another happy soul from the Mother country (ohh Canada). This altruistic, thoughtful Mamacita just so happened to be living in Bogota and offered the Princess a charming place to stay. It was this act of goodness which reinforced the Princess’s beliefs in serendipity, and she gladly accepted the offer of the Contessa of Chapinero.*
After some time living with the Contessa, the Princess saw and lived a more regular daily life. It was one of enriched emotion, as every single thought the Princess had was spurred on by curiosity and observance of people. The system of everyday life in Bogota seemed to be quite different than that of the Princess’s hometown, but also shared similar strife as well. Bogota has made some achievements on a global scale in terms of urban planning-for example the trans milenio bus system. The part, however, that the Princess was afraid of most though, was her slanted view of the city. She had been plopped into a gorgeous apartment complete with people who come to clean it (how bizarre…!?!?) and had never ventured out to places only seen from the window of the bus, places like Ciudad Bolivar** which would be far to dangerous for the Princess to go. In a splendid neighborhood of massive estates belonging to ambassadors and other diplomats, the Princess was immersed in another life of Colombia, still with its realities, but extremely sugarcoated. Was this luck, or was this exceptional welcome to Colombia only available to certain chosen few? The Princess thought to herself and decided that, beyond her control she had ended up here, here, with the hope that others will one day see Bogota for its realities and not its prejudices. Hope that humankind will look at the world and realize its needs, not wants, and, via concerted efforts attempt to salvage any last bit of future for civilization.

There is so much we can learn for simple observations of everyday life, but imagine observations of everyday life, somewhere else. I’m living the dream, live yours!

I (in case you can’t tell) love this place. I will post pictures of Bogota and the lifestyle of a Princess soon…I love your messages, keep ‘em coming!

*Chapinero is the district of Bogota in which the Princess resides with the Contessa
**The slums, further south in Bogota, which house the majority of the population, in living standards which people from North America would consider to be unacceptable.