Nice weather for Ducks
Over the last few years in living in Bogotá (yes, it will be 3 in December!) I’ve had a bit of a skeptical attitude towards what Colombians call “winter”. As far as I could tell, “winter” just meant any time of year when it rains every day for more than a week. I’ve heard taxi drivers grumbling about what a bad “winter” we’re having as rain whips against the windscreen, and then heard people talk about “summer” again once the sun’s come out the following week.
In other words, it seemed like there could be an infinite number of winters in a year, and coming from a country where winter really bites, where you don’t just get wet but also freeze and start hibernating after it gets dark at 4pm, I’ve never been able to take the Colombian concept of winter that seriously. After all, we’re practically on the equator here and the temperature doesn’t vary much from month to month.
This year, though, something feels different. I don’t know why exactly, but I’m really feeling the “winter” this year. I’ve got all the symptoms: I’ve had a cold for months. I’ve worn a woolly hat once or twice. And I even seem to be going into hibernation mode!
A little while ago Juan and I took on what for us seemed an enormous responsibility in our relatively commitment-free lives: 10 days of dog-sitting a six-month old puppy while his owner was away in Ecuador.
The puppy in question was Doc, a very cute mix of Australian cattle dog and all sorts of other bits and bobs, including a Rhodesian Ridgeback: which explains his cool mohawk. Doc belongs to Juan’s friend Daniel, an artist who was in Guayaquil showing at an exhibition.
One of the perks of our dog-sitting assignment was that we got to move into Daniel’s lovely flat in el Parque Virrey, one of Bogotá’s most exclusive locations close to all kinds of shops and restaurants. The flat is also about a minute’s walk from the park, making it a perfect puppy-friendly location.
Photo by Fiorella Cruzalegui
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the last week has been all about football, and hasn’t it been a whirlwind adventure? In the course of one week, England’s World Cup dreams have been dashed, while Colombia’s star is rising: with two confident wins so far, they are beginning to look like a serious contender.
But for me the most interesting thing is how the events of the last week have once more highlighted the massive differences between our two cultures. I’ve never seen this more clearly than when observing the differences between our two sets of football fans. Here are the differences I’ve noticed in the last week:
As if the husband wasn’t excited enough about the upcoming World Cup, a craze has swept through Bogotá in the last month or so to add more fuel to the fire. At around about the beginning of April, colourful little stands starting springing up on the streets like mushrooms.
And this was when the phrase “Panini stickers”, or monas as they’re called here, first appeared on my radar. Since then it’s been monas here, monas there and monas everywhere, transforming grown Bogotanos into little girls and boys and stirring up the excitement around the Copa Mundial.
Last weekend we finally drove over to La Laguna de Guatavita, a beautiful blue lagoon about 2 hours outside of Bogotá, most well-known for being the birthplace of the famous Legend of El Dorado.
Being a legend, exactly what happened is all a bit hazy. However, the basic premise is that the lagoon was a sacred place for the native Muisca people, who deposited huge amounts of gold in the water as offerings during the inauguration ceremonies for chiefs of their tribe.
Last Saturday was the Día de los Amigos Poker (Poker Beer Friends Day). What does that mean? Nothing really, except a well-known Colombian brand has come up with a clever way of selling more beer by inventing a special ‘friendship’ day every March.
However, I do think the advertising campaign around it is a) quite fun and b) gives a little lesson in Colombian slang, which – being a big translation geek – is exactly the sort of thing I like!
Last Thursday was the annual ‘no car day’ (Día sin Carro) in Bogotá, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to take my shiny new bike for her first trip to work. Plenty of people seemed to have had the same idea, and I soon found myself in a convoy with other smartly-dressed bikers whizzing along Bogotá’s cycle paths, many of them probably trying it for the first time like myself.
“No car day”, as you might have guessed, is a day when private cars are banned in Bogotá, encouraging everyone to think of other ways of getting into work. I don’t like to think about how packed the buses and Transmilenios (special bendy buses with their own lanes) must have been, but it all seemed like quite a good idea from where I was sitting.