End of the Year and New Year Review

Bogota Lunch Pork & tamalePreparing for the New Year did not go as planned. Ron really wanted to see the new Star Wars movie on a large screen, so Rolando searched the listings for us. Fortunately, most foreign movies are in the original language and sub-titled in Spanish.

Rolando, being the magnanimous person he is, stopped by on NYE day to drop off clean towels, but asked if we were ready to go out. He had a taxi waiting and he was planning on going in the direction of the mall where we needed to go. We joined him and then walked about 10 blocks from where he had to get out. The walk was lovely.

Once we made it to the area of the mall, we were a bit lost. There happens to be three malls in Colombia - Bogota December 2015 - January 2016 123the same area. Though we asked where the Atlantis was, we received shoulder shrugs more than once. We stopped for a lunch snack, which turned out to be quite interesting and tasty. Fearing it would be too filling, there had to be room for popcorn shortly afterwards.

As it turned out, the Atlantis was two blocks away, around the corner from the other two malls that span blocks of real estate. As luck would have it, the Hard Rock Café is in the Atlantis. We ran up to the cinema, bought our tickets and found out what time we would be out of the movie. Then we headed down to Hard Rock to see if Hard Rock Cafe Bogotathere was any chance of getting a reservation for dinner after Star Wars. The place was near empty when we walked in giving us the impression luck was on our side. Sadly, it was not. They were planning on closing at 4pm for the holiday. We were at least able to buy our pin for our collection.

Star Wars was…well it was Star Wars. After number two, I had not seen any of those that followed and really could have passed on this one if Ron had not wanted to see it. Not even the popcorn was very good. There were no alternative plans for a potentially better plan B, so there you have it.

Being so far from the apartment, we wanted to get an Uber taxi to go back. The trick is that we needed Wi-Fi to connect to Uber. On the ground floor of the Atlantis is a café that happened to have an open Wi-Fi connection. The force was with us. I connected to Uber, but the GPS could not determine our location. Finding a guard and explaining in limited Spanish what I needed, he typed in the address for me. I ordered the taxi, but once I did, the address to pick us up immediately changed to something different. This was the Uber torment once again.

According to Uber, it would take the car six minutes to reach us. The question lingering was would it really find will us or will it look for us at the location shown after the order was entered. When we walked out to the curb, we lost the Wi-Fi connection. I was not able to monitor the progress of the car. Walking back into the building, I regained the hotspot connection, but Uber logged me out. Trying again, the car was making little progress at reaching us. I cancelled the car, not knowing if we would be charged for it or not, but not really caring either.

Ordering another car, I was a little wiser this time. Rather than put in the address, I put in the Hard Rock Café. Bingo! It worked. The car arrived within six minutes. It could have been sooner, we were not sure. He had been sitting there when we decided to be brave enough to ask yet another driver if they were Uber. The first three attempts were not what you would call hospitable.

Thinking we would make it easy for the driver, we told him to take us to Museo de Oro, a major museum and close enough for us to walk from there. He had to stop four times for directions. It took us about 20 minutes longer than it should have to get back. Finally, at Bolivar Square, Ron told him to stop and let us out.

The square all cordoned off for later events in the evening, made it difficult to circumvent. By the time we returned to the apartment, the plan was to rest and then go to the place we heard was the main attraction. When it was time to head out again, neither of us felt like leaving the apartment.  Regardless of this being the summer season, due to the elevation, Bogota gets quite cold at night. Celebrating New Year’s in a humongous crowd was not my idea of fun.

New Year’s Day was interesting with the main streets closed to traffic. Some smaller cafés and restaurants were open for business, but the majority of places remained closed. Walking the street, we came across a coin toss that was efficiently set up with few props, but enough prizes to entice potential marks to shed their pesos.

What was the most incredible event was the guinea pig game. A young man had a selection of Guinea pig gambleguinea pigs all lined up. The little critters stayed side by side without running for their freedom. That in itself was remarkable. About six yards away, there were various colored bowls turned upside down. Some had an opening cut into them while others were merely an obstacle course. We at first thought this was going to be a race to see which animal could make it into a bowl first. However, we were wrong.

People place bets by putting their 100-peso coin on the bowl they think the guinea pig will go into. Once enough bets have been placed, the man takes one animal and sets him off to run. I swear the guinea pig first surveys the tops of the bowls before making a decision. With one exception, the chosen fur ball selected a bowl without any bets on it. Truly, this was hysterical.

Other entertainment was the senior citizen that danced to music for hours while collecting Coin tossdonations from pleased spectators. What stamina he has to spend that much time in constant movement. He was dancing when we went in one direction and was still going at it when we returned.

Of course, everyone has a gimmick for making some money. There was a haggard looking Santa Claus trying to sell people on having their photo taken with him. Others had their llamas out on display. For a fee, you could straddle the llama while posing for a photo. Llamas in BogotaWe had more respect for the animals than burden them with our bodies.

By 5pm, we discovered the Bogota Beer Company or BBC as they go by, was open for business. With few choices of restaurants open, we forced ourselves to have pizza and beer for dinner. The new year, 2016 is going to be a good one.

For those that missed it on Facebook, my New Year’s resolutions are as follows:

1. Spend quality time with Ron
2. Travel more – a lot more!
3. Worry less
4. Tell people who catch my errors in my writing “I was just checking to see if you were paying attention.”

If you missed the videos of the guinea pig event or the man dancing, you can see them here.

Guineas https://youtu.be/SaScvNHBYRQ

Man https://youtu.be/6Vc5mTqNIL8

After completing my Ed.D., the frustration of finding a teaching position where I was willing to live, led to Ron and I leaving the country. We intended to travel for a year before settling somewhere in MA or RI. We left the US without any credit card debt, no car payments and our house mortgage paid by renters. We had $10,000 in the bank to make our way through a year.